Homelessness in Nebraska

Joe Hofmann

Cardboard signs, scraggly beards and tattered clothes—we’ve all seen a homeless person before. Though they may not fit that description, you can usually make an educated guess about a homeless person when you see them.

Consider this: about 8 percent of Lincoln’s population is homeless. If you do the math, that equals about 20,000 people, which is actually quite low for most major cities. Homelessness is an issue that affects many, but there are ways you can help out.

Some Union College students past and present have taken it upon themselves to find homeless people in Lincoln so that they can talk to them and provide some form of comfort. This may be through offering meals, a fresh pair of socks or even a prayer. These self-motivated students really lead the pack and are the ones at the forefront for change in the homeless community. However, this can be a dangerous thing to do and it is not advised to go alone in case someone gets unruly.

Another way is to look for a homeless shelter or outreach center. Lincoln has one called the Matt Talbot Kitchen & Outreach. You can volunteer for quite a few jobs such as helping serve food, handing out personal hygiene items or even answering phone calls. Omaha also has an Open Door Mission and really tries to help families out during the holidays with meals, coats and even toys for kids.

Volunteering at a homeless shelter is a great way to get out in your community and make a difference. It’s also a great way to farm for service hours that are required for some majors here on campus. You may just be one person but can make a big impact to a homeless person you have provided a service to.

Joe is a senior studying nursing and pre-allied health.