Concerned About Someone Who is Homeless?

You’re randomly approached by a homeless person:

Living on the street is dangerous.  Often the homeless ask for money, but providing them with funds doesn’t address the real immediate need, shelter & food.  Directing them to a homeless shelter reminds them of this and enables them to become involved in the long term assistance programs that many shelters offer.  Make yourself knowledgeable of the homeless shelters in your area and whether they offer meals to those not housed there.   Consider carrying some single-use bus passes and a paper with the phone numbers and addresses of the homeless shelters in your area to give to those who approach you.  In doing so, you’re providing them with transportation to shelter, food and caring staff trained to assist them.  

Some Guidelines

  • When approached by a homeless person, state that their needs might be better met by going to a shelter. There could be times, especially when the weather is bad, when shelters may be full.  Often the homeless may tell you the shelters are full just to deflect your suggestion, whether or not they are full.   In either case, encourage the homeless person to keep checking back with the shelter and, if the shelter provides meals to those not staying there, they can at least get nutritious meals there and meet staff who are better equipped to assist them.  Some homeless dog owners are hesitant to use the shelters as pets are not allowed.
  • Do not offer transportation. Allowing a stranger (homeless or not) into your vehicle can be dangerous.  Consider carrying, and giving them, a single use bus pass so they can get to the shelter.
  • Don’t offer to let them stay at your place for the same reason you should not provide a ride.
  • If you want to help provide food, don’t give cash. Either carry some individual snack packs (no hard food items like nuts as many homeless people have dental problems), or a gift card to a fast food restaurant to give them.  You could also purchase a meal for the person.
  • Once at a homeless shelter, the individual will be able to work with staff trained to assist them towards the goal of being housed.

You’re encountering the same homeless person who is unwilling to go to a shelter:

Flood specializes in helping the homeless, a population that often has health concerns, physical disabilities, substance abuse, mental illness and other difficult circumstances that often prevent them from being able to secure the assistance they need on their own from other organizations.  Flood provides this help, and is the county expert and lead in Kern county in the area of street outreach.  Flood has trained Street Outreach Workers combing the riverbed and other areas the homeless frequent to make contact and build meaningful, trusting relationships over time with those they meet.  Such relationships are the basis from which Flood staff are able to assist the person on the path towards health, housing and integration back into society.

  • Ask the person if they would mind you contacting Flood Ministries on their behalf
    • If they are agreeable, get their
      • First and last name
        • The street name they go by, if any
      • Cell phone number if they have one
    • Note the location where the person sleeps and/or where they frequently spend their time
  • Call Flood at 661 323 5663 and provide the following information
    • Person’s name
    • physical description
    • Cell phone number, if they have one
    • Their location – description needs to be complete enough for our Street Outreach Worker to find it

Flood’s Street Outreach Workers will be notified and will follow up to assess needs, vulnerability and how to best serve the client.