6 Organizations Dedicated to Helping the Homeless in California

There are people in our own communities going without the basic necessities of food and shelter, and there isn't a single solution that will fix these complicated problems. The following groups have taken it upon themselves to pursue several courses of action to help those struggling in California with food, employment, and housing so they can get back on their feet. This video was made with Ezvid Wikimaker.

6 Groups Fighting Homelessness in California

Organization Headquarters Focus
Building Opportunities for Self-Sufficiency Berkeley Provides emergency shelter, health services, career training, and affordable housing solutions in Alameda County
Food on Foot Los Angeles Distributes food & clothes and offers life-skills education, full-time employment, and permanent housing
Bay Area Council San Francisco Engages business and civic leaders to develop and implement strategic solutions to the area's most critical challenges in areas such as education, health care, the right to shelter, sustainable home development, public transportation, and inclusive economic programs
People Assisting The Homeless Has 25 locations across 4 major regions Works with individuals, families, and veterans to prevent eviction, provides short-term rental assistance, builds and operates affordable residences, and offers mental health & substance abuse counseling
Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County Irvine Distributes nutritious meals and groceries throughout the community, with special initiatives aimed at helping children and seniors
Solutions for Change Vista Works with families to find permanent solutions to the cycle of homelessness through skills training, employment opportunities, counseling, and parenting classes

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In Depth

As both the nation's most populous state and one of its most expensive to live in, California is all-too accustomed to the challenge of homelessness. Fortunately, there are a number of organizations dedicated to quelling the problem by fighting for those in need. Providing financial assistance, access to affordable housing, family services, and other forms of social and economic support, the ones included on this list work to ensure that nobody has to live without a roof over their head or food in their stomach. From San Diego to the Bay Area, here are, in no particular order, six groups committed to helping homeless people throughout the Golden State.

Arriving at #1 is Building Opportunities for Self-Sufficiency. Founded in 1971, BOSS operates with the goal of helping low-income, homeless, and special-needs individuals attain safety and financial independence. Supporting people across Alameda County, it initiates programs that provide emergency shelter, transitional and permanent housing, leadership development, health services, and much more. While addressing and combating the systemic factors that create poverty, the organization works one-on-one with individuals and families to ensure that they can move into their own homes, earn a stable income, and achieve enduring wellness in all aspects of life.

Among BOSS's many valuable resources is its Housing Navigation Team, which provides assessments, advocacy, and application assistance to enable people to find secure, affordable housing as fast as possible. To facilitate the home-transitioning and stabilization processes, further support is given through case management and connections to rental subsidies. Also important are the Career Training and Employment Center in Oakland, which helps people procure living-wage jobs, and the Reclaiming Our Communities program, an initiative that aims to curb violence in the city's high-risk areas. Aid BOSS's year-round needs by donating goods such as blankets and toiletries.

To facilitate the home-transitioning and stabilization processes, further support is given through case management and connections to rental subsidies.

For #2 we have Food on Foot, which assists homeless and low-income people in Los Angeles by supplying them with nutritious meals, amenities, education, employment, and housing. It carries out its mission through two core programs: Sunday Meals, which distributes food and clothing each Sunday, and Work for Food, which provides homeless clients with life skills training and other resources that allow them to leave the streets and become economically independent. The organization reports that 85% of the people for whom it finds jobs retain their position one year later.

As part of the Work for Food program, clients receive assistance through interview training, money and crisis management, group therapy, and community service opportunities. While enrolled, they are also given meals, bus passes, a cell phone, and work clothes, as well as a full-time job and a furnished apartment. Upon completion, participants have the money and tools they need to be self-sufficient, confident members of society. There are a plethora of ways to support Food on Foot's efforts, including by becoming a Sunday Meals volunteer or donating online. You can also join the $98 Club, which helps fund those in the Work for Food program.

At #3 is the Bay Area Council. Focused on the social, economic, and environmental welfare of the region, BAC engages business and civic leaders in efforts to make the Bay Area the most inclusive, sustainable, and competitive place to live. Through strategic partnerships with a range of private and public entities, it orchestrates policy advocacy and research initiatives to develop structural solutions for the future. Among the Council's priority issues are housing and homelessness, both of which it aims to improve through the advancement of legislative reform and the cultivation of local and state coalitions.

Focused on the social, economic, and environmental welfare of the region, BAC engages business and civic leaders in efforts to make the Bay Area the most inclusive, sustainable, and competitive place to live.

Integral to the Council's operations are its Homelessness Task Force, which unites leaders from the private sector to help influence policies, and its relationship with Bay Area Caucus members who belong to the legislature. To bolster housing conditions, BAC pushes for wide-scale zoning reform, the reduction of per-unit construction costs, and the removal of prohibitive financial barriers. The Casita Coalition, meanwhile, is a major statewide initiative that advocates for the development of sustainable forms of small housing. Get involved with the Council by joining as a non-profit or corporate member.

For #4 we get People Assisting the Homeless, which strives to eradicate homelessness by creating affordable housing and providing support services to people across the state. With twenty-five locations in four regions, PATH helps needy individuals and families find permanent homes, and offers them case management, job training, medical care, and other resources meant to facilitate their economic self-sufficiency and long-term wellbeing. Thanks to its continuous efforts, the organization helps an average of twenty-three people across more than 140 cities move in to homes each week.

Accommodating individuals, families, and veterans who are impoverished or homeless, PATH's services include employment programs, outreach, home navigation, and eviction prevention. Other resources include rapid re-housing, which involves short term rental assistance and case management, and interim housing, which provides transitional lodging and recuperative care. The PATH Ventures division, meanwhile, extends the organization's mission by building and operating affordable rental homes throughout California, and offers on-site services such as mental health and substance abuse counseling. To do your part, consider assembling a care kit for the group's clients.

Other resources include rapid re-housing, which involves short term rental assistance and case management, and interim housing, which provides transitional lodging and recuperative care.

Landing at #5 is Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County, a member of the nationwide Feeding America network that seeks to put an end to hunger in OC communities. Through hundreds of non-profit partners and programs, it distributes fresh, nutritious food to over 250,000 under-resourced families, children, and seniors per month. Maintaining a strong, wide-reaching civic presence, the group gives to places such as schools, pantries, shelters, and Boys and Girls Clubs, and works to foster fundraising, volunteering, education, and advocacy within the community.

Designed to stem childhood hunger, Second Harvest's Kids Cafe Program provides meals to 2,700 children every day after school in underserved neighborhoods throughout the county. Equally essential is the School Pantry Program, which involves both a mobile pantry and permanent mini-marts that contain fresh groceries for impoverished and homeless families. To feed low-income seniors, the organization offers free food options at various community centers and senior apartments. You can help Second Harvest combat hunger in a multitude of ways, some of which include starting a food drive, donating money or groceries, or becoming an events or distribution center volunteer.

Finally, for #6 we come to Solutions for Change. Comprised of three core areas encompassing leadership development, social enterprise, and community engagement, this organization strives to create comprehensive, systemic, and permanent solutions to family homelessness in the San Diego area. Aiming to address the root causes of the problem and break the cycle that perpetuates them, it supplies families with the skills and resources they need to positively transform both their lives and those of future generations. According to the group, it has solved homelessness for nearly 1,000 families and over 2,000 children.

According to the group, it has solved homelessness for nearly 1,000 families and over 2,000 children.

At the foundation of the organization is Solutions University, a residential leadership program that equips parents with transformational tools over a 1,000-day educational experience. The program offers career training, youth opportunities, and life skills development, as well as resources such as affordable housing, healthcare, and counseling. Building on this is the group's Enterprise division, which entails real estate development and an innovative farm that grows and sells sustainable food products. Finally, the organization uses its Community wing to forge productive civic partnerships. Make a difference by sending a gift to Solutions for Change online.