5 Inspiring Initiatives Helping People on the Streets

Organizations that are doing their part to empower and create more opportunities for the homeless

Jul 15, 2014

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In every major city or community around the world, it is commonplace to find people living on the streets. While for some it may be a temporary situation, living without a place to call home is not an ideal situation for anyone. In an effort to make a difference, please get to know these five incredible organizations that are working towards empowering and creating more opportunities for those without a roof over their heads.

1. THE EMPOWERMENT PLAN

WHAT: A specially-designed coat for those living on the streets that doubles as a sleeping bag.
MORE DETAILS: Founder Veronika Scott had a homework assignment: create a design to fill a need. Scott creatively embarked on designing a coat for the homeless that is both water and wind resistant, and doubles as a sleeping bag. Taking the idea a step further, the Detroit-based nonprofit employees and trains homeless women to produce the coats for those in need.

Screenshot of The Empowerment Plan

2. THE STREET STORE

WHAT: The world's first free pop-up clothing store for the poor.
MORE DETAILS: Started in Cape Town, anyone can donate clothes and shoes to a "store" on the street which is constructed out of posters. The makeshift shop invites people on the streets to help themselves to the merchandise for free. The brilliant concept can be implemented anywhere around the world.

Screenshot of The Street Store

3. LAVA MAE

WHAT: Mobile water and sanitation buses that allow homeless people to bathe and clean themselves with dignity.
MORE DETAILS: Started by Doniece Sandoval and other private citizens, Lava Mae has outfitted donated buses with showers and toilets and private changing areas to accommodate the homeless. The sanitation initiative aims to minimize diseases and sicknesses that accumulate due to lack of cleanliness as well as give people on the streets the privacy they deserve. Lava Mae is also working on making their mobile buses as sustainable as possible with solar power and incinerator toilets which don’t require water.

Screenshot of Lava Mae

4. HANDUP

WHAT: A direct giving platform for local homeless people.
MORE DETAILS: The San Francisco-based start up created a website which allows anyone to directly contribute to people in need. Homeless people are featured in member profiles which contain a short biography explaining what basic services they require. 100% of donations are redeemed for basic needs like food, medical care and clothing through HandUp’s partner organizations.

Screenshot of HandUp

5. THE JOY OF SOX

WHAT: A nonprofit that donates socks to homeless shelters across the United States and in Afghanistan.
MORE DETAILS: When Tom Costello Jr. found out that socks are rarely donated to charity, he came up with the idea to focus solely on providing socks for those living on the streets. The simple garment not only warms up and protects tired feet, but also prevents ailments and medical problems.

Screenshot of The Joy of Sox