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Essential Checklist for People Experiencing Homelessness

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A businessman talking to a homeless man sitting on a sidewalk

Homelessness can make each moment a challenge, whether it’s finding a place to sleep, eating, or managing various hygienic needs.

But help is always available.

Communities like ours are working hard to ensure everyone has access to their basic needs, and we rely on the help of donations and volunteers to realize our goals. We’re grateful for the thousands of hours our volunteers have contributed and the millions of pounds of food we’ve collected through donations, as every little bit can change a life. 

Today, we will cover what basic needs are essential to meet while experiencing homelessness and what our community, neighbours, and families can do to help.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with homelessness, contact us today. We’re here to provide support in every way we can.

What Are Basic Needs?

Basic needs are the essential items and amenities a person needs to survive.

What constitutes a basic need has changed over the years, and definitions vary between countries and researchers. However, basic needs typically include:

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

Some of these essential items are provided as part of our marketplace or Regeneration Thrift Store, while others may be included in our list of amenities.

Urgently Needed Items

At Regeneration Outreach Community, we accept thousands of donations every month. And the more donations we receive, the more people we can help support.

Of course, there are certain items constantly in demand. Not only can these donations help feed and clothe people facing homelessness, they also stock the shelves of our marketplace and Regeneration Thrift Store.

Take a look at some of our urgently needed items and find out how you can help support our community.


  • Pants and shorts
  • Shoes and boots
  • Brand new underwear (Depends underwear also welcome)
  • Shirts and sweatshirts
  • Coats and jackets
  • Winter gloves
  • Toques and scarves
  • Baby clothes


  • Canned veggies and fruits
  • Canned meats
  • Canned soups
  • Jarred or canned pasta sauce
  • Dry pasta
  • Rice
  • Peanut butter
  • Cereal
  • Macaroni and cheese
  • Non-perishable baby food


  • Toothbrushes
  • Toothpaste
  • Dental floss
  • Body soap and shampoos
  • Sunscreen
  • Women’s hygiene products
  • Deodorant
  • Shaving cream and razors
  • Sanitation wipes
  • Toilet paper and paper towel
  • Baby wipes and diapers

Other In-Demand Items

  • Sleeping bags
  • Blankets
  • Towels
  • Laundry detergent
  • Pillows
  • Small appliances (coffee-makers, toasters, blenders, etc.)
  • Tools and home equipment

We may also accept furniture and electronic devices on occasion, but these must be clean, unbroken, and in good working condition. We won’t accept items with scratches, cracks, or missing pieces.

A young woman volunteer helping an older homeless woman pick out new clothes

Access to Amenities

While many of the items listed above are extremely helpful, they’re only a step towards meeting everyone’s basic needs.

Access to amenities is essential for many people struggling with homelessness but very difficult to achieve. That is why many communities like ours also provide numerous amenities that can be used throughout our program hours, free of charge.


Some communities offer shower facilities during operation hours, including soaps, shampoos, and towels.

Showering regularly reduces the risk of contracting skin infections and developing conditions like dermatitis and eczema. To help keep skin healthy and clean, we recommend showering once every day or 2.

Barbers & Salons

Another essential part of maintaining hygiene is having access to hair cutting services. 

Long hair can be difficult to take care of and can often become oily and tangled if it doesn’t get washed and groomed regularly. Because people who are experiencing homelessness may not get many opportunities to clean their hair, communities can help keep hair short and clean with the help of hair cutting services.


Just like showering, doing laundry is essential for cleaning away dirt and bacteria that can live on old clothes. If these clothes aren’t washed regularly, it can increase the risk of developing issues like scabies, respiratory infections, acne, and rashes.

Regeneration Outreach Community offers laundry services during our regular operation hours, and we even provide laundry soap and dryer sheets.

Internet, Phones, & Other Technologies

While not typically needed to survive, internet access and communication technologies are becoming more important as job recruiters and support programs go online. While traditional access to these opportunities is still available, people may have a better chance of improving their situation by accessing the internet.

Many communities, ours included, offer internet access as part of our commitment to helping people find a way off the street.

Social Programs

A huge part of what makes communities like ours so impactful is the list of social programs and workshops we have available. These programs are designed to help people take an active role in improving their lives, teaching them valuable skills like:

  • Cooking
  • Managing anger and anxiety
  • Bettering their health
  • Managing their finances
  • Coping with grief

You Can Make a Difference

Homelessness is difficult, but help from people like you makes it easier to bring people off the street and into a life of warmth, comfort, and security. With your donations and volunteer time, we can provide the continued support members of our community need each and every day.If you’re wondering how you can help, please visit our Volunteer page or look at our Donations page to browse our urgently needed items. Please donate your items at our Regeneration Marketplace at 253 Queen Street East.

Written by Dan Gibson

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