When Helping Hurts the Homeless

How to Help the Homeless Without Hurting Them

We have all been sitting at a red light when a person approaches our car asking for money or food with a sign that states, “I am homeless.” Our heart strings are pulled and we give that dollar, change, or food we may have in our car. Is this really helping them? Won’t they be in the same predicament the next day or even the next week? In fact, the situation is oftentimes worse than we can imagine, and our efforts end up doing more harm than good.

Homelessness has reduced drastically over the past several years due to the Housing First initiatives of The Way Home and Social Service Providers here in the Harris, Fort Bend, and Montgomery County areas; however, the poor and homeless are still amongst us. There are ways to help the homeless without hurting them or being counterproductive to The Mayor’s City Ordinance against panhandling.

Three Ways to Help the Homeless:


The Salvation Army, along with other local homeless agencies, provide food, shelter, laundry services, and access to mainstream benefits such as healthcare and permanent supportive housing. Without your monetary donations and support these agencies lack the resources to serve those in need.

Click here to help individuals and families out of homelessness and into housing: http://salvationarmyhouston.org/donate-now/


Write your local and state representatives and ask them what they are doing to reduce homelessness in the community. BE A VOICE FOR THE INVISIBLE!

Click here to find out who your local representatives are: http://www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us/Home.aspx


When you encounter a homeless person, let them know that The Salvation Army has a shelter for men, women and families in and near Downtown Houston. The Salvation Army also has a shelter in Montgomery County. You can also visit the Coalition for the Homeless Houston’s website to learn more about other homeless agencies you can refer people to.

You may say what if they don’t use it, but once you have extended the helpful information, the responsibility is no longer yours to bear.

Click here to learn more about The Salvation Army’s homeless shelters: http://www.salvationarmyhouston.org/homeless/

Our objective is to provide homeless persons with a HAND UP not a HAND OUT, to meet their basic needs so that they can develop to their full potential and become productive members of society again.


About the author:

Loretta Ray is currently the Lead Case Management Specialist at the Harbor Light Center and Red Shield Lodge. Her career with The Salvation Army began back in 2009 at Sally’s House as a Receptionist, eventually moving up the ranks at Sally’s House to Statistician in 2011 and Caseworker Specialist in 2013. Concurrently, Ray obtained an Associate’s Degree in Counseling and Human Service Technology in 2012, a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology in 2014 and is currently working toward a Master of Social Work.

Ray also has a personal connection to The Salvation Army, having stayed at Sally’s House women’s shelter from August 2006 to March 2007.