6 Important Groups Working to Help America's Homeless

Homelessness is an issue that affects hundreds of thousands of people in the United States. Not having a permanent place to live can be devastating, but luckily there are plenty of hardworking organizations like the ones listed here that provide housing to those on the streets, advocate for their rights, and help them get the resources they need to get back on their feet. This video was made with Ezvid Wikimaker.

6 Important Groups Working to Help America's Homeless

Organization Main Office Location
Heartland Alliance Chicago, IL
Council of Large Public Housing Authorities Washington, DC
Global FoodBanking Network Chicago, IL
National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty Washington, DC
National Health Care for the Homeless Council Nashville, TN
Mercy Housing Denver, Colorado

8 Great Documentaries About Homelessness

  1. If You Got It Give It (2018)
  2. Under the Bridge (2015)
  3. It Was a Wonderful Life (1993)
  4. Dark Days (2000)
  5. On the Edge of the World (2013)
  6. Sleeping Rough (2018)
  7. Down and Out in America (1986)
  8. The Dark Side of the Moon (2019)

What Happens When Homelessness Is Criminalized

In Depth

Homelessness remains a particularly difficult-to-solve problem in the United States, despite being one of the wealthiest nations on Earth. Often a multi-faceted issue, with connections to education, employment, and mental and physical health, access to housing is increasingly being viewed as a human right by those at the forefront of the struggle. If you are interested in learning more about this topic, then here are, in no particular order, six groups working to help America's homeless.

At #1 is Heartland Alliance, founded in 1888 in Chicago with the help of the well-known activist Jane Addams. Since then, the organization has continued its work with vulnerable populations, and today it offers a wide range of social services to those who are homeless or in poverty. It has also expanded its reach considerably, now serving people throughout the Midwest and in twenty countries around the globe. Heartland Alliance works with more than half a million people annually.

Beyond providing housing, health care, jobs, and justice services, the group also works to shape state and national policy in order to end poverty. Examples of supported initiatives include raising the minimum wage in Illinois to fifteen dollars per hour and providing medical, food, and financial assistance to foreign-born survivors of human trafficking. Those who wish to learn more about Heartland Alliance or offer support should visit its website, where information about volunteering opportunities and "fact sheets" on health care, human rights, and immigrant and refugee issues can be found.

Examples of supported initiatives include raising the minimum wage in Illinois to fifteen dollars per hour and providing medical, food, and financial assistance to foreign-born survivors of human trafficking.

In the #2 spot is the Council of Large Public Housing Authorities, a non-profit based in Washington, D.C., that uses advocacy, research, and education to improve public and affordable housing throughout the United States. As authorities that administer more than 1,200 combined units and vouchers, C.L.P.H.A. members collectively manage forty percent of the nation's public housing programs and can be found in places from Alaska to Puerto Rico.

Additionally, C.L.P.H.A. works to promote reform that is focused on outcomes instead of process and that ensures program funding and flexibility. Specific campaigns such as The "Housing Is" Initiative, for instance, seeks to align the diverse efforts of housing, education, and health organizations to benefit low-income people by promoting data-sharing and cross-sector training. If you're interested in supporting C.L.P.H.A., consider becoming a sponsor of one of its events or subscribing to its newsletter, featuring the latest member and industry news.

Coming in at #3 is the Global FoodBanking Network, founded in 2006 with reach in over thirty countries, including the United States. With its main office in Chicago, GFN links a variety of organizations across the globe that together save more than one billion pounds of food annually, which feeds around nine million people. Its primary goal is to end world hunger, and it has a specific focus on logistics, with the belief that hunger is often a result of food waste. GFN has teamed up with numerous partners, including General Mills and Bank of America, which has enabled the group to collaborate with existing food banks and to identify locations where they are needed.

With its main office in Chicago, GFN links a variety of organizations across the globe that together save more than one billion pounds of food annually, which feeds around nine million people.

With over one in four people experiencing malnourishment around the world, GFN approaches the formidable challenge of hunger through a variety of ways, including hosting international leadership institutes and sponsoring specific reports, like "Waste Not, Want Not," which positions food banks as a green solution to hunger and issues specific governmental recommendations. Those who are interested in supporting GFN can make an online donation or can get informed by signing up for its newsletter or following its social media accounts.

At #4 is the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty. With its main office in Washington, D.C., the nonprofit, founded in 1989 by Maria Foscarinis, has a national reach, operating programs that serve more than 3.5 million homeless people in the United States. Largely a team of attorneys with specialties ranging from education to domestic violence, NLCHP is the country's only national legal group dedicated to preventing and ending homelessness.

Supporting the idea that a place to live should be guaranteed, the organization divides its efforts into three main issue areas: housing, civil, and youth rights. NLCHP uses its staff of lawyers in combination with pro bono attorneys to accomplish many tasks. These include creating homes from unused government property and fighting for an end to the criminalization of homelessness through its "Housing Not Handcuffs" campaign. For those who want to get involved, NLCHP offers numerous opportunities, including volunteering and internship positions and an annual forum that brings together advocates, government officials, and past and current homeless people.

For those who want to get involved, NLCHP offers numerous opportunities, including volunteering and internship positions and an annual forum that brings together advocates, government officials, and past and current homeless people.

At #5 is the National Health Care for the Homeless Council, which since 1986 has worked at the intersection of health care and homelessness to improve access to the former and eliminate the latter. Boasting over 200 organizational members, the National HCH Council takes a multi-faceted approach to these complex issues, focusing on training professionals, researching and sharing best practices, and amplifying the voices of those who have experienced homelessness.

The group's website provides an abundance of resources for people working in the field. The National HCH Council has created a series of networks to connect professionals, including ones for clinicians, researchers, and respite care providers. Both providers and people experiencing homelessness who have been impacted by policy issues are invited to share their stories too. If you are interested in supporting the council, consider signing up for "Mobilizer," an action alert centered on public policy, or educating yourself about its key issues, like single-payer health care, via its website.

At #6 is Mercy Housing. Tracing its roots to the early 1980s, the group was founded with the help of Sister Timothy Marie O'Roark, who convinced her fellow Sisters of Mercy in Omaha, Nebraska, to fund an organization dedicated to creating inexpensive places to live. Over the ensuing decades, it has grown from providing an initial 310 units of affordable housing to impacting over 48,000 households, with regional offices from California to Georgia. Today its mission is as important as ever, with only thirty-one affordable units available for every one hundred extremely low-income renters in the United States.

Tracing its roots to the early 1980s, the group was founded with the help of Sister Timothy Marie O'Roark, who convinced her fellow Sisters of Mercy in Omaha, Nebraska, to fund an organization dedicated to creating inexpensive places to live.

Sponsored by eight communities of Catholic Sisters, Mercy Housing strives to make a difference through a combination of program-enriched accommodation, extended support for its residents, and a commitment to community development, offering loans to projects that create housing for low-income individuals. The organization engages in advocacy, working to establish legislation and regulation that aligns with its well-defined public policy priorities, like improving federal support for Community Development Financial Institutions. Those who want to show their support can select the group as their designated charity while shopping on Amazon, or even donate a used car.