What if we were able to give a homeless person a hand up?

What if we were able to give a homeless person a hand up?

To give or not to give? That is the question many of us ask ourselves when faced with a homeless person. 

Ranging from “Surely I would just be fuelling their drink/drug problem” to “Well, at least I’m giving them something” there are clearly divided opinions on whether the ‘little we do’ is going to be of any kind of genuine assistance, or whether it is simply going to help keep them on the streets by creating codependency and reducing motivation to “go out and get a job”.

Books like Toxic Charity and When Helping Hurts and others have addressed some of this in detail often leaving potential do gooders feeling confused and nervous about trying to help at all.

That’s where HandUp comes in as demonstrated powerfully in this article titled ‘How a homeless person moved an audience of tech workers to tears at Launch conference.’:

‘HandUp is a relatively new service that lets you donate directly to homeless individuals in your neighborhood. 100 percent of the donations go to the essentials, like food, clothing, and medical care. What stands out about HandUp is the human touch: Individuals can share their stories and ask for specific items, like dentures or a new phone.

Once they’ve signed up, HandUp members are provided with a profile card with basic biographical information, which they can hand out to potential donors.The card contains information for people to donate via a secure SMS system, and the transaction can be carried out on an iPhone.’ 

As Adam Reichart, the homeless man who shared his needs on the stage explains, ‘I have a verifiable way to tell people the truth about my needs.

Take a few minutes to read the rest of the article, watch some of the attached video clip and let us know your thoughts. Does this feel like a viable solution? Would you consider giving through such a means if it was operating where you live? 


Brett Anderson

Brett "Fish" Anderson from South Africa (the country) is passionate about seeing the church live out what it says it believe in all areas of life. He is married to the beautiful Val (tbV) and hates raiSINs with a different kind of passion.
  • http://www.mst.edu/~oertherd danieloerther

    So, first I love the creativity and applaud the effort. Awesome idea and keep them coming! Second, I don’t like it. Sounds like I’m throwing cold water, but please let me clarify. Right now, I go to church on Sunday and drop money in the basket. Some of that goes into funds that the pastors use to distribute in cases of need. This solution seems to me to be moving the pastoral relationship from the minister to yet another NGO. And I’m still just dropping money in a basket, but this time via iPhone in response to a verified card of needs. I’m humbly open to alternative ideas, and I apologize if my candid comment is offensive; that’s not my intent. There are many reasons for needs, and some have very deep origins in mental illness while others involve more temporary situations. I believe the approach suggested in this article could address some of those temporary situations, but the real needs of those who suffer poverty due to some type of mental illness are best addressed through relationships where human connections are the real value (more so than the money). We have enough pastoral accounts at churches to care for many immediate issues; but we lack the relationships with others that are necessary to live as a modern version of the early chuch; and that’s what I feel is needed. Humbly and respectfully,

  • http://www.mst.edu/~oertherd danieloerther

    And I felt the need to clarify, when I’m painting broad strokes using the term mental illness I realize that there are many diverse reasons for poverty. I know that brief blog posts aren’t a good way to tease apart subtle differences in topics, and I apologize to anyone I’ve offended through a sweeping generalization. Peace,

    • Brett Anderson

      i hear you on the mental area which is a whole different story i imagine [and don’t know too much about in terms of what is most helpful and not] BUT for me i assumed the relationship aspect is still there and absolutely needs to be but the card idea becomes more helpful than simply giving cash because of the accountability options and safeguarding from being able to buy other less helpful things – i feel that using money/cards or not a further conversation that needs to be had and constantly returned to is the one which points towards authentic, regular and ongoing relationship as the key to long-term change and transformation. But this seems like a step in the right direction in terms of creating a tool to better facilitate good relationship which is vital.