Helping the Homeless in the Cold

What Can You Do?

The recent cold temperatures that the “Polar Vortex” brought to New Jersey and much of the rest of the country brought with it a heightened concern about the homeless who spend their days and nights out in the elements.

Recently Forbes contributor Den Diamond, whose day job is with the Advisory Board Company, was motivated to find how what he could to help after passing homeless individuals prepared for a night of sleeping outside in his home of Washington D.C.

In his thoughtful “investigation,” Diamond found both immediate and long term ways to provide assistance including:

  • If you encounter a homeless person outside in the cold weather who may already have refused shelter and needs “immediate relief,” calling a local Hypothermia Hotline (if available) or 211,
  • Providing more permanent assistance by connecting the homeless to housing and services that can provide either the temporary or more long-term assistance they need (and the homeless outreach teams responding to the hotlines above know how to do this), and
  • Making a more permanent impact. Diamond’s colleague Graham McLaughlin who directs the corporate social responsibility program says that, “‘Without making a long-term commitment to support someone, it’s hard to do much more,’ he said. ‘Play the long game,’ agrees Harold Pollack, a professor at the University of Chicago and one of the nation’s experts on poverty and public health. ‘Contribute to a good organization that works with severely poor people in your area.’”

While we hope that the homeless who live on the street, under bridges, in encampments in the woods and in their cars will not have to face the recent frigid temperatures again, now is the time to think about how we can all support more permanent solutions to homelessness and “play the long game.”

If you are interested in supporting an organization focused on ending homelessness in New Jersey, Monarch Housing Associates is one of the nonprofits working in New Jersey to find a long-term solution.

Click here Diamond’s full article.

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