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Helping the Homeless: There’s No Better Noble Cause – Exploring the Intersection between Philanthropy and Business

Homelessness is defined by homelesshub.ca as “an extreme form of poverty characterized by the instability of housing and the inadequacy of income, health care supports and social supports.”

There are essentially three criteria that are covered in this definition: 

  • Rough sleepers or people who live and sleep on the streets
  • Shelter dwellers or people who are temporarily displaced and are living in emergency shelters or hostels
  • Individuals and families who are under-housed or considered at risk of homelessness

The latest statistics quoted by Wikipedia.com estimate that there are 150 million homeless people across the globe. Secondly, Habitat for Humanity estimated in 2015 that there are more than 1.6 billion people worldwide who live in what is known as “inadequate shelter.” 

An additional challenge facing the homeless living in the northern hemisphere is that the summer is over and the cold, winter weather is moving in. During the winter months, finding adequate shelter becomes even a more significant challenge to face and solve. 

The good news is that there are charitable organizations or NPOs like Yadezra.net, whose aim and mission is to help the homeless find shelter. However, these organizations need financial support from business organizations. 

Consequently, the salient point of this article is to describe the importance of financially supporting charitable organizations who work with homeless people, finding them short-term and long-term accommodation, or assisting them to stay in their existing homes. 

COVID-19: A post-modern cause of homelessness

The SARS-CoV-2 virus has rampaged its way across the world, resulting in the instant shutdown of the global economy, infecting just under 40 million people and causing almost 1.111 million fatalities. 

The pandemic is also responsible for driving the global economy into the worst recession it has faced since the 1930s Great Depression. It is far worse than the 2008 global recession. 

Note: Questions might be asked about the reason for citing statistics pertinent to the USA and not the whole world. The concise response to these questions is that these statistics are readily available, and the easiest to find in the public domain. Consequently, they are mentioned as a representation of the global population.

2020 figures show that there are now about 30 million unemployed people in the USA. 2019 unemployment figures showed that only 3.6% of the US population or 5.9 million people were not gainfully employed. These unemployment numbers rose between 2019 and 2020 by 24.1 million people, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is perhaps also worth noting that the current unemployment levels were last seen during the Great Depression.

Clearly, the United States, and the world, is facing a major challenge in fighting and eradicating the virus and its socio-economic consequences. 

The correlation between unemployment and homelessness

Unfortunately, unemployment numbers versus homelessness figures demonstrate that there is a direct correlation between unemployment and homelessness. A Columbia University professor conducted an analysis determining the relationship between unemployment and homelessness. The results of this study found that USA homelessness figures could grow as much as 45% in 2020.

Homeless people have not only lost access to adequate shelter for themselves and their families; they also do not have access to food, warm clothing, and medical care. While warm clothing and proper shelter might not seem as relevant to homeless people, especially rough sleepers, during the warm summer months, they become mostly applicable during the cold winter months. As an aside, this study found that the current economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic is intensifying the current public health crisis amongst the homeless.

The role business plays in assisting charities in providing accommodation for the homeless

Therefore, the question that begs is, how do homeless people get help finding a place to stay, warm clothes, medical care, and enough food to eat? 

This role is primarily filled by any number of registered non-profits (NPOs) and charitable organizations. However, in order to fulfill their mandates, they need financial support from corporate institutions. 

As an aside, or perhaps a sweetener to donating money to these charities and NPOs, companies and individuals can claim a tax deduction on these donations when submitting their annual tax returns to the US Inland Revenue Service (IRS). The maximum deductible amount has been temporarily increased as part of the Coronavirus Tax Relief and Economic Impact bill. It is assumed that once the pandemic is over, the tax-deductible levels will revert to their original levels. However, no indication of this has been made.

Final thoughts

As stated in this article’s title, helping the homeless indeed is a noble cause. However, NPOs and charitable organizations cannot help the socio-economically disadvantaged people without substantial help from the corporate sector. The counterbalance to this statement is that multinational organizations need the charitable organization or philanthropic platform to fulfill their upliftment mandates. Therefore, the intersection between philanthropy and business is the point where these two sides of the equation meet to do good and to help clothe, feed, and house the homeless.

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