Nebraska Winters are Dangerous for Our Unhoused Neighbors
This weekend brings subzero temperatures, which can be dangerous and even deadly for those living without warm shelter.
Commit to engaging in mutual aid to protect unhoused people in our city by creating and distributing care kits, checking in on unhoused folks in your neighborhood, and teaming up with or donating to local groups doing this work.
Make a Care Kit
Care kits are great to keep ready in your car for if you happen across a person who might need it. When handing out care kits, it’s important to keep in mind that just assuming someone wants what you’re offering is a paternalistic point of view. Remember to come from a place of solidarity, not charity.
When talking with unhoused people, ask them if they’d like a care kit, as well as asking them if there’s anything else that you can do for them.
Care Kit Ideas
Here’s a list of some great items to keep in care packages regardless of the weather, with some winter specific items highlighted for this upcoming cold front:
Warm hats, gloves, socks and other clothing items*
Face masks and hand sanitizer
Snacks (non-perishable, easy to eat foods such as pop top canned goods, crackers, water, juice, tea bags, apple sauce, fruit, beef jerky, etc.)
Cash and/or gift cards to nearby gas stations, stores, etc.
Deodorant, soap, and other personal hygiene items
Other items that can be useful to distribute to unhoused folks or donate to organizations that serve those experiencing houselessness, beyond a small care package:
First aid kits
Prepaid cell phones
Consider including a small card in your care kits/distribution complete with phone numbers and other information of ways unhoused folks can access different services or support.
We’ve created a small printable card to include that you can find here, or you can make your own with some of these phone numbers:
Your personal number, if you’re willing to provide folks with support
The numbers for Omaha Street Medics
The locations and phone numbers of Omaha’s warming centers
The phone numbers and locations of local shelters and food banks
Do You Have Funds?
If you have the means to donate cash, consider donating to Omaha Street Medics to help them with their supplies and hot food distributions, as well as other local organizations. Consider supporting Omaha Tenants United as well, to help those facing evictions and ensure that people have safe homes for the winter.
We encourage everyone to get to know their unhoused neighbors and speak to them about their needs and the ways you can support them.
If you have the means, consider offering more long-term support, such as:
Paying for an overnight hotel stay on cold nights
Purchasing a gym membership for someone to have a consistent place to shower
Purchasing a prepaid cell phone or cell phone minutes
And any other support someone may ask for
Show up for your community, and remember, we keep each other safe.