It’s a Hand Up, Not a Handout: Fighting Hunger and Homelessness in the US

Over 500,000 Americans are homeless tonight. Over 42 million will go hungry. The good news? There are people out there helping individuals of every background and level of need re-gain stable, self-sufficient lives.  And there are even more who want to help.

Feed your family or pay your rent? It’s an impossible question, yet it’s one that
thousands of Americans are forced to face each day.

In the United States today, 549,000 people are homeless on a typical night, and 42 million are at risk of suffering from hunger- staggering numbers by any account.

While many people don’t hesitate to help out when they meet someone in need, homelessness and hunger are not going to be solved by one night in a shelter or one free meal. Long-term solutions need to focus on developing a healthy, stable, and self-sufficient lifestyle.

To combat homelessness and hunger,  many organizations (including Endeavors) utilize a comprehensive, individualized approach and tailors its programs and services to meet the needs of specific populations.  Here are the five most common reasons for homelessness- and how you can help.

1. Homelessness and Disabilities

More than 40% of the homeless population in this country lives with a disability. The links between homelessness and disabilities are well-documented, and the combination can create a seemingly inescapable cycle of homelessness and unemployment.

How can I help?

People with disabilities make up 3.2% of the nation’s workforce in ages 16-64, yet only 28% of organizations have disability hiring goals. At work, disabled individuals will often try to hide their disability because they don’t want to be held back professionally. You can help by talking to your HR department about how they ensure inclusive hiring practices and disability accommodations in the workplace. If you’re a business owner yourself, evaluate your hiring, training, and retention structures to see if you can improve your personnel diversity.

How does Endeavors help?

Endeavors runs a program in Fayetteville, North Carolina that provides training and support for low-income men with disabilities. We call it the Enfield House. While the program admission process preferences Veterans, it is open to anyone needing assistance. With individualized case management, the Enfield House provides safe housing and focuses on helping clients increase self-sufficiency and personal income through education and job skills training.

For referrals/admissions to Enfield Housing, please contact the Housing Coordinator at: 910-672-6166 x244 [email protected]

2. Homelessness and Mental Health

mental health and homelessness

Escaping homelessness can be a Sisyphean challenge of trying and trying but never succeeding. When combined with mental health issues, that challenge feels even heavier. According to the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation, the most common types of mental illness among the homeless population include affective disorders such as depression and bipolar disorders, schizophrenia, and anxiety and substance abuse disorders.

How can I help?

Fight the stigma against homelessness and mental illness. Remind your friends and family that mental illness and substance abuse disorders are just that: illnesses and disorders. Consider volunteering with a shelter or organization that provides supports for homeless individuals or individuals with mental illness, and bring a friend (The US Department of Housing and Urban Development has a ton of great resources for volunteering)! The more you learn and share about these issues, the faster real change will be made.

How does Endeavors help?

In Texas, the state with the fourth-highest homeless population, the Fairweather Lodge focuses on providing safe and supportive housing. Case managers then connect clients with high-quality counselors and, if needed, enroll them in skills training for work attainment. The goals? Safe, self-sufficient, and successful.
Located in San Antonio, the project accepts individuals who are able to meet certain criteria, and work with them to develop a sustainable, safe, and self-sufficient lifestyle. For referrals/admissions to the Fairweather Lodge, contact the Lodge Coordinator at: 210-208-5700 [email protected]

In Cumberland County, North Carolina, community agencies have been working to support the homeless population through permanent supportive housing. Endeavors contributes to that initiative through its Bonanza Project, a housing program that supports both individuals and families living with chronic illnesses, disabilities, or mental health issues.

For referrals/admissions to the Bonanza Project, please contact the Housing Coordinator at: 910-302-7650 [email protected]

3. Veteran Homelessness

veteran homelessness help

Over 9% of adults experiencing homelessness are Veterans of the U.S. military. This means that on any given night, over 40,000 Veterans are sleeping under a bridge, in a tunnel, or on a bench that will provide even a small semblance of protection. To put it bluntly: that is not okay.

How can I help?

There are so many ways you can support homeless Veterans. Donate what you can (personal items, clothing, food, cash) to an emergency shelter. If you have counseling or legal experience, volunteer to support veterans in transition. Serve as a mentor for a Veteran in need of job or life skills training, employment placement, or mental health counseling. You can even donate to Veterans through Endeavors (just contact our development team at [email protected] or 210-431-6466).

How does Endeavors help?

In Texas and North Carolina, Endeavors has rehoused or prevented homelessness for over 5,000 Veterans and their families to date. At the Reveille Retreat in Fayetteville, North Carolina, specifically, Endeavors offers assistance to Veteran women and their children. The number one priority? Providing a safe, stable, and healthy place for women and their children. Then, the Retreat supports the client with everything from developing parenting skills to symptom management. Meanwhile, the client’s children are supported with individualized educational assistance and the emotional stability of a safe family-oriented space. For referrals/admissions to Reveille Retreat, please contact the Housing Coordinator at:

910-672-6166 x244

[email protected]

4. Chronic Homelessness

chronic help for homeless

According to recently released statistics, 24% of homeless individuals experience patterns of chronic homelessness. Temporary housing is not the answer.

How can I help?

Donate or volunteer with a local family shelter, women’s shelter, or clinic that supports homeless individuals. An hour once a week spent hanging out with kiddos in need or serving meals to women fleeing domestic violence is an hour more than well spent.

How does Endeavors help?

At the Fairweather Family Lodge in San Antonio, Texas, Endeavors has built a program specifically designed to stabilize chronically homeless women with disabilities and their children. This beautiful family-style campus is a far cry from a shelter. It’s a true home.

With trainings on everything from parenting skills to finances to conflict resolution, as well as symptom management and job skills development, the Fairweather Family Lodge helps women regain their independence and start building their income. A huge part of the program is job referral and placement. Meanwhile, the Lodge offers educational support for the children.

Currently, the Fairweather Family Lodge receives all referrals for admission from Coordinated Entry through the South Alamo Regional Alliance for the Homeless.

5. Hunger

Hunger and homelessness are inherently intertwined, but there are far too many people with a warm bed but no food. While so many of us take for granted opening the pantry to find more snacks than we need, 14.3 million households – not individuals – had limited or uncertain access to enough food in 2018.

How can I help?

From canned food drives to making monthly donations, there are tons of ways to help fight hunger in America. The United Way of San Antonio has opportunities to help out in their food pantry and many organizations, like Volunteer Florida need volunteers to deliver meals to homebound residents.

But sometimes making a difference is just keeping your eyes open. For example, if your child says they’re sharing their lunch with a student who doesn’t have a lunch every day, alert your school’s administration so they can coordinate supports and ensure every child is eating healthy meals each day.

How does Endeavors help?

In addition to providing housing services, Endeavors also partners with other organizations to help ensure adults and children in need receive the health and safety services necessary to improve their quality of life.

For instance, Endeavors assists Adult Protective Services case managers by providing a number of services, including purchasing and delivery food for clients who can’t leave their homes. Additionally, Endeavors is a current and experienced Texas Department of Family and Protective Services contract holder. In the past five years, our team has worked with DFPS in 65 counties across the state, ensuring that children placed with foster or adoptive families enjoy the safe and nurturing home they deserve.

Between the stigma against homelessness and the innate stubbornness of human pride, there’s an understandable hesitation to ask for help. But here’s the thing: it’s a hand up, not a handout. If you or someone you know is in need of services to prevent or solve homelessness or hunger, contact one of our offices near you to find out how our team can help.

Endeavors is passionate about serving vulnerable people in crisis, improving their quality of life in innovative, personal ways. Click here to connect with someone from our team and learn more about the many ways Endeavors® can help!  

In addition to providing housing for homeless women and children, we also provide Disaster Case Management and Emergency Services.  Additionally, we help connect military families to clinics, provide emergency staffing services, create long-term recovery plans, and far more.

To learn more, check out endeavors.org or donate today.