The causes of homelessness and the solutions to fix them are complex. But there is a lot we can do to make a difference in our community. If you're trying to get involved, consider:


Help those experiencing homelessness fulfill their immediate needs by volunteering at a shelter. Shelter staff often need extra hands to sort through clothing and to serve meals. You may also be able to use your professional skills to help. For instance, you could help with building repairs, organize a fundraising event, or provide job training.

You can also join the Home Team during their annual PIT count, serve on a committee, or join as a member. 


Making a significant impact on homelessness requires systemic change. Make calls, send letters, and ask for meetings with local, state, and federal leaders. Workable strategies require policy change and funding. But advocacy is also about subtle changes we make to how we talk about the issue of homelessness and behave around homeless people. 

“It’s a nationwide issue,” notes Peter. “It really starts congressionally.”


“You can have the best-laid plan in the world and have the brightest minds working on the problem, but you need resources in order to carry it out,” Peter says.

Ask Erie's homeless shelters and housing authority about what material assistance they need. While monetary donations are vital, you can also donate:

  • Clothing
  • Household goods
  • Books
  • Computers
  • In-kind services

Many people debate whether or not to give money to an individual experiencing homelessness when they ask. The answer is: It's your choice. It doesn't have to be money, either. You can also donate food or drinks or ask them what they could use.

However, if we look at the data, you'll likely have a more significant impact on the homelessness crisis as a whole if you donate to shelters rather than individuals. "Donating is a good way of helping," Darrell says. "If you ever wonder where the money is going, don't be afraid to ask questions, go to the organization's website, ask for a tour… Resources will always be at the core of how much you can do."