That time I had an AK-47 pointed in my face

Every once in a while, I take a day off from writing about homelessness to tell a completely unrelated story… This is one of those days… I had just crossed the border from Ghana into Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) in West Africa. I paid my fare to take a “bush taxi” to the capital city, […]

“I turn 35 next month and intend to grow old.”

A few weeks ago, I talked about how no one chooses to be homeless. I got the following email in reply that was simply beautiful in its raw honesty. I’m sharing Rebecca’s full email unedited with her permission. Peace, Ryan Dear Ryan, This one resonated with me.  I will still tell people that after college, […]

Some homeless people are six months old.

Recently, I was going through a report of people that had just moved out of the shelter where I work. One person in particular struck me: A six-month-old baby who just moved out with his mother. He became homeless AND rehoused all before he was six months old. He won’t even remember having been homeless. […]

WLS Interview with Steve Cochran

Former Executive director at Hesed House Ryan Dowd joins the Steve Cochran Show to talk about how people become homeless, the 4 different types of homelessness he sees come through the Hesed House, and he explains why outlawing homelessness is inefficient. Visit WLS Website

My staff is freaking out after an incident.

Dear Ryan, I am a manager at a food pantry. One of our clients (who has an intellectual disability) had an outburst. She physically rushed at one of our staff. Fortunately, she stopped short of physically assaulting the staff member. Barely. The staff member involved is very shaken. The rest of the staff is freaking […]

Christmas Eve in a Homeless Shelter

The following story is from my book “A Homeless Christmas Story”To see the illustrated version and hear it read by Actor Emilio Estevez, go to the URL doesn’t work, type it into your browser) Winter’s crisp darkness settled over the large, brick homeless shelter. Chicago winds whooshed snow across a frozen parking lot. Christmas […]

How to Help at the Holidays

Hi! We recently put together a “naughty” and “nice” list for how you can best help during the holidays. watch video + download guide Please share the video on your social media to let others know how they can help! Have a great week! Ryan

Airplanes and frightened customers/volunteers.

I’m writing this email on an airplane from Chicago to Nashville. A few minutes ago, we hit some “rough air.” I fly a lot, so turbulence doesn’t bother me. This wasn’t mere turbulence. It felt like the plane was dropping out of the sky. Here is what happened inside me: My Amygdala, the part of […]

I went to see Yoda.

My mentor is the nun who founded the homeless shelter I have worked at more than half of my life. Sister Rose Marie recently moved to Iowa. A few months ago, I went out there to get the next installment of her wisdom.  I felt a bit like Luke Skywalker flying to the Dagobah System […]