Help put an end to homelessness

01 LA homeless

Story highlights

  • A government report says more than half a million people in U.S. are homeless on any given night
  • Several states, cities have declared a state of emergency for homelessness
  • Many organizations have created solutions to help end, prevent homelessness in unique ways

(CNN)Temperatures are dropping across the country and many homeless people are struggling to find a warm, safe place to stay.

The figures are alarming: According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, on any given night in January more than 500,000 people could be on the streets.
Cities in several states from New York to Hawaii have declared states of emergency to set aside money to tackle homelessness. But many charitable organizations have already been implementing solutions for the homeless problem and you can help them make an impact.
    The National Coalition for the Homeless targets communities with a high number of homeless people. These "outreach runs" involve groups of volunteers who provide food, clothing and toiletries while engaging the homeless community in conversation.
    The United Way empowers homeless people through programs that help get them on stable financial ground. These include job training, credit counseling and a program called "Street to Home," which helps get people off the streets and into housing.
    You may recognize the name "Covenant House" from the group's national "Sleep Out" movement, in which fundraisers sleep outside to raise awareness about homeless youth. According to the most recent U.S. Department of Education count, nearly 2.5 million children experienced homelessness in 2013. Covenant House provides a safe haven for at-risk and homeless teens, and the group has teamed up with the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia to give young homeless people coping mechanisms to deal with the stress of their situation, including meditation and tai chi.
    Standup for Kids doesn't just provide donated items to young homeless people. It also hosts various social events such as movie nights, picnics and birthday parties to encourage teens, and it provides a backpack filled with food and clothing for homeless school children to help them over weekends. The organization also offers job referral services, mentoring, and educational services.
    The Salvation Army provides temporary housing, food and overnight lodging for families and individuals who are experiencing homelessness or destitution.
    These are just a few of the organizations working to end homelessness. But many smaller groups in your community may also be doing good work. Reach out and make an impact.