How to Write a Letter for the Homeless
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Many individuals try to help homeless people by giving them money, but this often doesn't solve the larger issues surrounding homelessness in communities. There are different ways to help homeless individuals, including writing a letter to help spread the message about homeless issues.
If you write a letter about homelessness locally, statewide or nationally, address the letter to a government official or agency or organisation that assists homeless individuals, describing in your letter the major problems homeless people face.
Write a letter using a formal letter format, with basic parts such as a greeting, salutation, dateline, subject line, closing and recipient and sender contact information to structure your letter. Use standard font sizes and correct grammar and spelling to give your letter a professional appearance. Within the body of your letter, talk about why you are writing for homeless people. State your expertise or experience working with homeless people and talk about any homeless organisations you are affiliated with to add credibility to your letter.
- Many individuals try to help homeless people by giving them money, but this often doesn't solve the larger issues surrounding homelessness in communities.
- Within the body of your letter, talk about why you are writing for homeless people.
Focus on one or a few issues affecting homeless people at a local, statewide or national level to keep your letter brief and powerful. Talk about specific issues, such as how there isn't enough space in homeless shelters in your community, how a certain bill could help homeless people or how many homeless people are gravitating toward a certain city, to make your letter more interesting to the reader. If you talk about broader issues, a politician or organisation will be less likely to be able to take action, as it can be difficult to solve a problem such as violence between homeless people.
- Focus on one or a few issues affecting homeless people at a local, statewide or national level to keep your letter brief and powerful.
- Talk about specific issues, such as how there isn't enough space in homeless shelters in your community, how a certain bill could help homeless people or how many homeless people are gravitating toward a certain city, to make your letter more interesting to the reader.
Use statewide, local or national statistics to help argue your case for one or more homeless issues. Gather statistics from reputable organisations, such as the National Coalition for the Homeless. Put only the most powerful and relevant statistics within your letter, making sure not to bog your letter down with data and potentially losing your reader.
Bring in stories of homeless people within your community to personalise your letter. Talk about the people's experiences and history within the introduction or body of the letter, tying their stories into larger issues. Try to be honest about the individuals' lives, including details about drug use, prostitution, jail time or other experiences.
Include how much money you need, how you will use the money and why your effort is important if you are writing a grant letter to receive funds to help homeless individuals. Focus on major efforts that you will implement and communicate your passion for helping homeless people deal with a certain problem, such as a lack of access to health care, to have a better chance at getting a grant. Also talk about your organisation and its purpose, your method for helping homeless people, the populations you will be serving and your method for measuring your success within a grant letter.
- National Coalition for the Homeless; Who is Homeless; July 2009
- National Trails Training Partnership; Write More Effective Letters; Del Albright; March 2007
- University of California Berkeley College of Letters and Science; Grant-Writing Resources; July 2011
- Usingenglish.com; Formal Letter Writing; June 2011
- Maintain an authoritative voice within your letter to make it more of a call to action and to ensure that your reader will take what you say seriously. Send your letter by e-mail, if possible, to be environmentally-friendly and have your letter reach your recipient faster. Keep your letter brief, to about a page or so.
- Don't expect one letter to a person or organisation to immediately solve the issue of homelessness in your community, state or country. It will take multiple efforts over time to help homeless individuals at a local, state or national level.
Laura Latzko is a freelance writer based in Phoenix, Ariz. She has reported for the "Columbia Missourian," "Columbia Daily Tribune," "Downtown Express" and "Washington Times." She holds a Master of Arts in journalism from the University of Missouri.