ABH Maryland

How You Can Best Respond to Homelessness in The Community


How You Can Best Respond to Homelessness in The Community

  • Mental Health

It’s no secret that the world is a challenging place to live. Apart from the continuous effects of the Covid-19 pandemic settling in, the cost of living has soared, with record-high inflation and astronomical housing prices. If you live in any metropolitan area, chances are that you’ve seen an increase in homelessness around you. While it’s an issue that can be tricky to navigate, in this blog, we have put together ideas for responding to homelessness in your community and how you can combat it at the local level.

It’s important to note that experiencing homelessness is rarely a choice, but rather the result of a person faIt’s important to note that experiencing homelessness is rarely a choice but rather the result of a person facing many obstacles, including mental health struggles, a lack of resources, and often a lack of support system. In addition, more than half of Americans experiencing homelessness were previously incarcerated. It can be easy to make negative assumptions about those experiencing homelessness, but the more we understand and empathize with homelessness in our communities, the greater the chance we can come together to find solutions.

Understanding the Cycle of Homelessness 

Criminalization of Survival Behaviors: Those experiencing homelessness are more likely to be criminalized for normal behaviors like sleeping and going to the bathroom simply because there is nowhere for them to go. 

Difficulty Exiting the Justice System: Exiting the justice system becomes difficult due to a lack of affordable housing.

Restrictions on Obtaining Housing: When you have a criminal record, it becomes challenging to gain access to housing. 

Increased Risk of Supervision Violations: When you don’t have access to housing or transportation, it becomes nearly impossible to meet expectations for supervision (like drug and alcohol tests), leading to supervision violations.

Here’s What You Can Do to Combat Homelessness Locally

While homelessness needs to be a community effort that involves political leaders, law enforcement, and policymakers, there are still steps you can take as a community member. 

Community-led outreach tends to involve clinicians, case workers, and other health professionals and their engagement with people experiencing homelessness in the community, like street outreach. With the right team of professionals, street outreach can be a great way to connect those battling homelessness with the right resources and services available to them. 

Some communities form community responder teams comprising social workers, emergency medical personnel, and peer support specialists to shift responsibility away from law enforcement. For people experiencing homelessness, interacting with law enforcement can be a very negative experience, unfortunately. Looking into the creation of one of these community responder teams could be an excellent step for your community in helping those experiencing homelessness.

Other ways to combat homelessness in your community can include the following:

Remember that those experiencing homelessness are humans, too. It can feel more common to ignore those you pass on the street. But as long as you feel safe, it can be day-changing to acknowledge someone struggling with respect and dignity. Never underestimate the power of seeing someone as an equal. 

Make care packages. A great activity to do during the holidays is to create a care package for those experiencing homelessness. Consider the essentials someone may need – an energy bar, a bottle of water, a toothbrush, gloves, and lip balm. You can also write a list of resources available to them nearby, so they know their options. 

Organize a drive. Getting families together to organize a drive is another great way to combat homelessness in your community. Have a clear mission, recruit a team, choose what you’re collecting, choose a location and organization to donate to, and promote on social media. People want to help out, so making it easy for them to do so can go a long way. 

Contact Us Today

Responding to homelessness is challenging, but these tips can help you navigate the issue and improve your community. Here at Advanced Behavioral Health, we care about doing our part to create positive communities for all to live in, especially those who struggle with mental health. If we can help you, your family, or someone close to you, reach out to us by visiting our website or calling us at 301-345-1022. Our team of experts provides a range of services, including youth mentoring, clinical-based services, and off-site counseling. Get in touch with us today! 

When you think of the well-being of a child, you first think of basic needs: food, water, and shelter. Once these needs are met, however, it’s crucial for a child to have emotional and social wellness as well. In this article, we will explore the impact social wellness has on the overall health of a child and great ways for children to garner social support in their lives.

It comes as no surprise that as human beings, we all need connection with others, no matter what stage of life we are in. In fact, having social support is a social determinant of health (SDOH) that significantly impacts the health of an individual. After spending the last few years in and out of isolation due to the Covid-19 outbreak, social support is more important now than ever before. Having social support means having family members and friends you can talk to and seek advice from when life feels challenging and overwhelming. Knowing you’re not alone in your life journey, especially as a child, creates a sense of belonging and empowerment throughout one’s life.

4 Types of Social Support

Emotional Support. This type of support lets you know that people care about you and have empathy for your experiences. Emotional support often looks like people checking in on you to let you know they’re thinking of you, and that they are there if you need anything. As a parent, make sure your child knows you can be a sounding board for them. If you have family members who can also show up for your children in this way, even better!

Practical Help. This type of support is when people give you something tangible or offer a service to help you out. This could be in the form of money, making food when you are sick, or helping to pack when moving. Having family and friends show up in this way shows your child what it looks like to be present for people you love.

Sharing Points of View. This type of support can often come in the form of affirmations and encouragement. For example, pointing out your child’s strengths to them and reminding them they can do anything they put their mind to. It can also look like sharing another perspective if they are being hard on themselves. For example, if they are angry with themselves after receiving a bad grade on a test, you can help them see it as a learning experience and a way for them to grow.

Sharing Information. This type of support is when someone shares what they’ve learned from their own life experiences. For example, if another parent has a child who struggles with socializing, they can share some tips and tricks they’ve learned to help their child find and create social support.

The Importance of Social Groups and Extended Support

Children who are connected to their family, friends, and people in their community have opportunities to learn how to speak, share, and get along with others. When your child feels connected to people in your neighborhood, it often allows them to feel physically safe which can alleviate stress and worry. Simply riding bikes, going on walks, and saying hello to neighbors with your kids can create this sense of security for them.

In addition to engaging with your neighbors, getting involved in local organizations can also create social support for your child. Signing up for a sports team, musical theater, art class or summer camp are all great ways to help your child meet new friends and learn important social skills that can carry them through their lives.

Tips for Helping Kids Make Community Connections:

Spend time outside in your neighborhood playing on the playground, going to a local farmer’s market, or scheduling a playdate with neighborhood kids.

Show your kids that connection is a two-way street. If your neighbors or friends go out of town, offer to get their mail, or water their plants and take your child with you when you go. This will show your child how you show up for people you care about.

Make sure you make time for socializing with friends as well. Your child looks to you first and foremost for how they should act and live their own life.

Encourage your child to step out of their comfort zone and do something they may be scared to do. As a parent, it’s your job to push them into something social for their own well-being at times.