What Should I Do If...

We get a lot of questions around ways to help others. Here are some ideas to consider as you make these personal decisions.


What Should I Do If
What Should I Do If

…I would like to be able to give people useful information about where to get help?

You are welcome to download and print our Street Outreach trifold, or you can order copies of our Minneapolis or St. Paul Handbook of the Streets.

New in 2019: Our Street Outreach trifolds are also available in Spanish, Somali, and Hmong.

...I see someone who appears to be homeless and is in immediate distress?

Call 911. Sometimes people call our Street Outreach line when they see someone in distress, but our Street Outreach team is not an emergency response team.

...I know of a location where someone is sheltering outside?

We appreciate knowing about locations in which people experiencing homelessness are sheltering, and value support from community members. Leaving a message with our outreach community number at 612-879-7624 is the best way to provide this information. We take each report seriously and do our best to engage with individuals. For reasons of privacy, we are unable to share with you if/when we connect with the person(s) in the location you have identified. 

It's important to remember that we are facing an emergency in our community driven by systemic issues like an affordable housing shortage, the wealth gap, stagnant wages, and legacies of racist policies and practices. Currently, there are more than 700 individuals who are living in places unfit for human habitation while shelters are at or near capacity. These 700+ individuals simply have nowhere to go. Please consider encouraging your elected officials to address homelessness in a compassionate and timely manner that reflects the reality and urgency of this humanitarian crisis. Of course, donating to local organizations addressing homelessness is always appreciated and needed.

...someone who appears to be homeless asks me for money?

We really like the answer the Coalition for the Homeless gives for this question, so we want to share it with you:

"Each of us must make our own decisions about whom to help and how, and just because someone is asking for food or money doesn’t necessarily mean he or she is homeless. But it’s safe to assume that person would not be asking for help if help was not needed."

If you do not feel comfortable handing someone money or food, you can ask if they already have the Handbook of the Streets or the Street Outreach Trifold.

For other perspectives from local leaders, check out this Star Tribune article or this blog post from Guild Incorporated.

...someone close to me is experiencing homelessness?

We know this is a taxing situation for many people. It's okay to let someone stay with you (given that  you're comfortable with it and not putting your own housing situation in jeopardy), and it's just as okay to say that you can't provide that support. Feel free to share our "Get Help" page with your loved one and let them know about resources that are available.

…I see the same people at the same intersections every day and they don’t seem interested in being connected to resources?

Some people avoid shelter because of one or more of the "Three P's" that they cannot necessarily take with them into an emergency shelter space: partners, pets, and/or possessions. Others may have had negative experiences in a shelter and are not interested in returning. Everyone is different, and it is important to never make assumptions about a person.

It can be disheartening to see the same people every day, but know that if they are “regulars” in Minneapolis, they are likely on our Street Outreach team’s radar. Know that our trained team is working to build relationships and rapport to encourage people who are eligible for help to make use of those resources.

It's also important to remember that we do not have enough affordable housing or shelter in the Twin Cities to accommodate everyone who needs them. Of the 843-893 shelter beds available for single adults in Hennepin County, most are filled on most nights50% of adults experiencing homelessness in Minnesota are on a waiting list for subsidized housing, and have been on a waiting list for an average of 12 months. In the summer of 2019, more than 45,000 applications were submitted for just 7,500 spots on Twin Cities waiting lists, and 70 percent of applicants identified as people of color or Indigenous.

We invite you to learn more about these issues on our Understanding Homelessness page.

...I want to learn more about homelessness and those experiencing it in Minnesota?

Visit our "Learn and Advocate" tab. We invite you to experience A Day in the Life, or join our Advocacy in ACTion Network.

Homelessness Ends With You.

Learn more about homelessness in Minnesota.
Send a note to your legislator to advocate for systems change.
You can make a difference.


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