5 ways to support people without homes in Birmingham as temperatures drop

Birmingham skykine
An estimated 900 people are without homes in Birmingham. Photo via Libby Foster for Bham Now

In 2020, the Continuum of Care Program reported to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development there were 3,351 people without homes in Alabama. As temperatures begin to drop, being without a home becomes more dangerous. Keep reading to find ways to support our neighbors in need.

1. Drop off toilet tents

the tent of a person without a home
Toilets can be set up in tents such as the one pictured. Photo via One Roof: Uniting Central Alabama to End Homelessness’ Facebook

One of the primary issues those without homes face is finding locations to relieve themselves. One way to combat this issue is to create and drop off toilet tents. To build a toilet tent, purchase black plastic buckets, snap-on toilet seats, black trash bags and small tents. Assemble the toilets and drop them off at local transient camps. This idea was popularized by Seattle tech worker Mark Lloyd.

2. Host a care package drive

a care package
Care packages can include a wide variety of items. Photo via Bham Now

During the colder months, our street neighbors need warmth more than ever. A great way to accumulate items to donate is a hygiene drive. Next time you host a game day at your house, ask your family and friends to bring canned goods, blankets, jackets and hygiene items such as feminine products, soap and toilet paper to be donated. Afterward, drop the collected items off at transient camps or local shelters such as Pathways Home’s Day Center, Firehouse Shelter and First Light Shelter.

3. Give meals

Birmingham
Birmingham is all about supporting each other. Photo via Nathan Watson for Bham Now

Everyone needs a hot meal. When meal prepping or cooking breakfast in the morning, prepare an extra plate. On your daily commute drop off meals to transient camps, citizens around the city or prepare large meals to give shelters. If cooking isn’t your forte, donate packaged goods and nonperishables to local shelters.

5. Donate rides

boutwell auditorium
Offering rides to warming centers such as Boutwell Auditorium can save lives. Photo via Tira Davis for Bham Now

During the coldest nights of the year, Boutwell Auditorium operates as a warming center. To help those stuck in the cold, offer rides to Boutwell Auditorium so our street neighbors have somewhere warm to spend the night. A great way to do this would be to create a carpool with friends. On the coldest nights, drive around town offering rides to the warming center, shelters or other safe locations.

5. Other donations

The Way Station for young people without homes
Ground has broken on The Way Station. Photo via Jacob Blankenship for Bham Now

Last month, ground broke on Birmingham’s first shelter dedicated to youth without homes, The Way Station. The Way Station will be located at the corner of 3rd Ave and 7th St North and is seeking donations for their Capital Campaign with the Way Station Brick Campaign. To purchase a brick and permanently be a supporter of the Way Station, visit their website. Bricks will be laid as the circular entrance for the Way Station for all to see.

Be A Blessing is also accepting donations. You may have heard of Be A Blessing last year when they purchased a mobile shower trailer for use by Birmingham’s people without homes. Currently, Be A Blessing is seeking donation of a truck to transport the trailer around the city. If you have a truck to donate, contact BeABlessingBirmingham@gmail.com. Gifts in kind can be dropped off at multiple locations around Birmingham.

Do you have more suggestions to help our neighbors without homes? Send them to us @BhamNow.

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Katiana Banks

Marvel-loving, cardio-hating senior at UAB. ✨

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