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10 Essential Items People Experiencing Homelessness Need

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four wooden cubes depicting images representing the basic needs of food shelter clothing and access to healthcare

Homelessness can make daily living challenging. Everyday activities such as eating, maintaining basic hygiene, or finding a place to sleep can become difficult. Fortunately, there is help available. Finding a dedicated team and care program is essential. 

But what are some items that are essential for people experiencing homelessness? Let’s look at some basic needs people experiencing homeless may need, including 10 essential items that can help.

Fulfilling Basic Needs

One of the challenging aspects of homelessness is limited access to basic needs, which are the essential items and amenities people need to survive. 

Basic needs have changed over the years, but today, basic needs usually include

  • Food
  • Water
  • Shelter
  • Clothing
  • Access to healthcare

These essential items and amenities can be provided through a dedicated care program designed to help people struggling with homelessness. 

10 Essential Items to Help the Homeless

In Canada, 35,000 people are dealing with homelessness on any given night. They have to focus on ensuring they have the means to get through the day.

Some causes of homelessness can include: 

  • Inadequate housing
  • Poverty
  • Divorce and family disputes
  • Unemployment
  • Addiction to drugs and alcohol
  • Physical and violent abuse

You may be wondering how to help and what items can help the homeless, whether you’re looking to help or doing research of your own. Let’s explore 10 essential items that can help.

#1 Clean Clothing

People experiencing homelessness will usually not have access to enough clean clothing. A care program can allow access to personal hygiene needs such as hot showers that include soap, shampoo, and clean towels. 

A care program can also provide access to donated clothes to replace worn and dirty clothing to help improve circumstances.

#2 Sunscreen

Sunscreen may be a surprise addition to this list, but it’s essential. While all homeless people aren’t spending all their time outside, they can still spend hours outside throughout the day. In warmer climates, time out in the sun can add up and result in sunburning. 

Sunscreen can be an underrated essential item when it comes to health. 

#3 Non-Perishable Food & Supplies

Non-perishable food items such as dried food can help homeless people add some variety to their meals. These food items are also easier to carry and last longer, so they have access to different meals on different days. 

#4 Winter Accessories

Just as warm climates can prompt the need for sunscreen, winter may be just around the corner, and winter accessories can provide much-needed warmth and comfort. 

Items such as gloves, scarves, and hats can help against the harsh winter weather. A great way to help is to donate some winter accessories you no longer use to your local care program

#5 Socks and Underwear

Socks and underwear can fall under clean clothing but are significant enough to warrant their own place in this list. Clean socks and underwear are essential to maintaining healthy bodies and can help in all climates. 

#6 Personal Care Products

Personal hygiene is a significant barrier for homeless people, and limited access to personal hygiene products can sometimes result in health problems

Personal care products can include items such as:

  • Toothpaste and toothbrushes
  • Soap and shampoo
  • Menstrual care products
  • First-aid supplies
  • Hand sanitizer
an assortment of personal care items hand sanitizer toothbrush soap and shampoo

#7 Identification

We can take our piece of identification for granted and not realize how essential they are to daily living. 

People experiencing homelessness may lack a reliable piece of identification, and that can create additional problems such as an inability to apply for jobs or social programs. An ID clinic at the local care program can help homeless people access essential pieces of identification. 

#8 Sleeping Bags

While not all homeless people have to spend their time outdoors, some have no choice. A sleeping bag can be an irreplaceable item for homeless people who have to live outside for extended periods. 

A sleeping bag can help people stay warm and sleep comfortably in less-than-ideal environments and situations. 

#9 First-Aid Kits

We all need access to first aid options in everyday life. This need is no different for someone experiencing homelessness. Accidents happen, and anything can happen throughout the day, so a first aid kit can become an essential item to have access to.

#10 Backpacks

Backpacks can be a convenient way to store all sorts of smaller items and carry them throughout the day. Backpacks in good shape are a constant need. They can help provide a form of organization and peace of mind knowing where specific items are. 

Helping Out

Whether you’re looking to help out people experiencing homelessness or doing your own research, these are some items that can have an impact and help people experiencing homelessness through their daily lives.

Contact your local care program for more information and see how you can help today.

Written by Dan Gibson

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