I’ve written about homelessness before. But in case you missed it/just need a refresher, let me drop some quick facts on you. According to the United Nations, there are at least 100 million homeless in the world today. In America, the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty currently estimates that more than 3.5 million people in America will experience homelessness in a year. Breaking that down, the most recent report from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, stated that in 2016, over half a million people (549,928 to be exact) were homeless on any given night.
According to the report, on a single night in 2016, an estimated:
- 194,746 people in families, including children, experienced homelessness
- 358,422 single adults experienced homelessness
- 77,486 people with disabling conditions experienced chronic homelessness
- Nearly 40,000 veterans experienced homelessness
Reasons for homelessness vary, but the main reason people become homeless is because they cannot find housing they can afford. Other factors can include a chronic health condition, domestic violence and systemic inequality.
It is also expensive. It takes its toll on the economy, the environment, health care and the criminal justice system. On a March 2012 appearance on the Daily Show, former U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Shaun Donovan stated, “At the end of the day, between shelters and emergency rooms and jails, it costs about $40,000 a year for a homeless person to be on the streets.” And that was in 2012, I’m guessing the costs to the taxpayer haven’t gone down since then.
And while homelessness is expensive and often viewed as an inconvenience for a lot of people that see it, just imagine what it is like for those experiencing it. That is why (you may have guessed this was going) today we’re talking about a few more of the good companies out there doing their part to help.
Vita Shoes is a shoe company that creates high-quality sneakers for an affordable price, and gives some of the profits to homeless shelters and communities in need in the U.S. The company was started by college student Daniel Abaraoha, after he grew up serving those less fortunate (he went on various mission trips and served at multiple homeless shelters), but never felt it was doing enough. A lifetime lover of sneakers, Daniel decided to combine his passion for designing sneakers with the desire to help meet the needs of the poor in his community and beyond.
Vita gives 10% of the retail price of each item sold to a project benefitting a shelter or community in need. Last January, Vita gave over $1000 worth of food, supplies, and materials to a homeless shelter in Dallas. And currently they are working with a homeless shelter in L.A. called Casa Libre that supports undocumented youth in their community. Daniel hopes to put on a sneaker show there and develop a mentoring program.
But the good stuff doesn’t stop there. Vita’s sneakers are actually affordable. Daniel was appalled after he found out how little it actually costs to produce a sneaker, and became committed to making a high quality sneaker that was also affordable. Their first round of sneakers, the Vita One’s are already available. But the better news is that the company is releasing their second sneaker, the Vita 2, in August. The Vita 2 maintains the athletic-casual look of the Vita One’s, but is made from mainly recycled and organic materials. Bonus! P.S. Use Coupon Code VITA10 and you can get 10% off of your pre-order of the Vita 2’s.
When Bombas founder learned that socks are the #1 most requested clothing item at homeless shelters, they started a company to help solve the problem. For every pair of socks they sell, they donate a pair to someone in need.
But to be able to donate a lot of socks, the folks at Bombas knew they would have to make a great sock — the best sock, actually. They spent two years on research and development to create their dream sock — fixing things they didn’t like about conventional socks, and inventing innovative features to improve comfort. And it seemed to have worked — Bombas was able to donate a million pairs of socks in just 2 1/2 years (something they had thought would take 10 years, BTW).
Bombas workers with more than 600 giving partners — shelters, non-profits, charities, and individuals dedicated to helping the homeless, in-need or at-risk communities — to get socks on the feet of those who need them most.
What’s even cooler? Bombas doesn’t donate the exact same socks they sell to homeless shelters. They worked closely with their giving partners to engineer a sock to specifically meet the needs of people who don’t have the luxury of a clean pair of socks every day. The socks they donate have anti-microbial treatment that prevents the growth of fungus so they don’t need to be washed so frequently; they make them in darker colors so they don’t show wear as easily; and they have reinforced seams for greater durability and a longer lifespan.
Central City Coffee
Central City Coffee is a Portland based coffee company that lives by the motto, “Drink well. Do good.” And just for the record, that’s really a motto I can get behind.
Central City Coffee is a social innovation Fund (SIF) program that sources, roasts and sells craft-roasted coffee with the mission of providing comprehensive solutions to ending homelessness and achieving self sufficiency. The company does this in three ways:
- Showcasing Central City Concern (a 501(c)3 non-profit organization) and their mission of providing comprehensive solutions to ending homelessness and achieving self-sufficiency.
- Teaching transferable employment skills and offer life changing experiences.
- Generating revenue to support Central City Concern’s employment services, which helps formerly homeless individuals find and retain ‘employment.
Homeless Toronto was started by a small group of young Toronto based artists and designers who have all been personally affected by homelessness at some point in their lives. The company, which has a line of tees, sweatshirts, sweatpants and a few home goods is about creating great products, being different and giving back.
Knowing firsthand, the struggle of homelessness, the group knew how much even the smallest contribution could help, they also wanted to help people feel good about the clothing they were buying, knowing it would have a positive ripple effect. That’s why 40% of their proceeds every month go to helping the homeless in Toronto — whether that be food, water, new clothing, blankets, donations to shelters or giving back to the community, or anything else that is needed.
With a goal to allow everyone to feel good about the clothing they are buying, knowing that they have purchased uniquely made clothing / goods and a rippling effect of a helping hand.
Looking for more ways to help the homeless? Check out Just Give’s 35 Ways to Help the Homeless, which includes things as simple as respecting them as individuals and responding to kindness, to more getting more involved and joining Habitat for Humanity or pushing for state homelessness prevention programs.