Helping The Homeless-A Comprehensive Collection of Resources

Homelessness seems an insurmountable problem. It knows no race, religion, age, mental or physical boundary. There are about 672,000 families with children, elderly, single adults, youth, and veterans without a place a place to call home in the United States on any given night. Homelessness is a national crisis, affecting not only the largest of cities, but the suburbs, smaller towns, and rural areas. The problem is as complex as it is unique to each individual or family situation; whether the homelessness is due to economics, substance abuse, disability, or mental health.

The Homeless Problem

Lack of adequate and supportive housing is one of the major reasons for homelessness. President Barack Obama has allocated $1.5 billion in stimulus funds to aid in prevention of homelessness and to help those already homeless to quickly be housed. Federal funding continues to focus on providing temporary shelter and food to those who have become homeless through choice, economics, addiction, mental or physical health issues. However, the stimulus money is designed to allay the problem before it becomes a problem for a family about to be evicted due to job loss or an individual who is homeless because there is no support, education, or seemingly, a way out.

Chronic Homelessness: Those 10 percent of homeless who stay in the homeless system an average of 280 days each stay eating up nearly half the system's resources.

Changing the Face of Homelessness: Who are the homeless and how the homeless are acting to rectify their situation one event, one action, at a time.

Factors Contributing to Homelessness: Declining wages, domestic violence, natural disaster, and substance abuse are a few of the many reasons people become homeless.

Homelessness Resource Center: A professional provider website with information for the general public on homelessness from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Impact of Unemployment on Homelessness: This 2009 fact sheet examines the relationship between unemployment, underemployment and low wages and homelessness.

Homeless Statistics

Over 100 million people in the world are defined as homeless. Finding affordable housing coupled with a simultaneous rise in poverty over a quarter of a century has made homelessness in the United States more prevalent. In the past few years, the economic downturn and subsequent run on foreclosures has contributed to a significant increase in homelessness. With little or no increase in shelters in both the urban and rural areas of the United States, these population extremes are facing the greatest rises in homeless people.

Research Guides: Many links to statistics on homelessness compiled by the University of Michigan.

Recent Fact Sheets: Statistics on homelessness as recent as late 2009.

U.S. Homelessness in 1995: A brief foray into the reasons for homelessness in 1995 that includes statistical data regarding gender, employment, and overall homelessness.

The Homeless World Cup: Homeless people from around the world play football, known in the U.S. as soccer, and over three-quarters find a home afterward.

National Low-Income Housing Coalition: Press kit includes database by state and tables of expensive housing jurisdictions and types of housing.

Homeless Veterans

Our national heroes are coming home to homelessness or the risk of being homeless. Nearly one-third of America's homeless adults are veterans. About 95 percent of homeless vets are male, five percent female. Most are single from urban areas, many suffer from mental illness, drug abuse, or other disorder. Over half of all veterans are of Hispanic descent. Poverty, lack of adequate housing and support networks make around 1.5 million veterans of wars from Korea to Iraq at substantial risk for homelessness.

National Coalition for Homeless Veterans: Background and statistics on at-risk and homeless veterans.

No Man Should Fall Behind: Easy-to-read statistics and other information on homeless veterans and why they are in danger.

Job Education for Homeless Veterans: "Serving those who served." Helping our homeless heroes become self-sufficient again.

General VA Benefit Overview: Guide covers education, compensation, pension, vocational rehabilitation, home loans, survivor's benefits, and life insurance.

Homeless Veterans Assistance: An overview of benefits from the military to aid homeless veterans.

Homeless Health

Illness associated with poverty is ultimately associated with homelessness: AIDS, dental problems, substance abuse, tuberculosis, nutrition problems, mental illness, even parasitic infections due to lack of shelter. Most homeless do not have health insurance. Medicaid has picked up the tab in the past, but its many policy changes has all but eliminated the program for many homeless persons. One out of seven children under 15 receive help by homeless health care projects around the U.S. and 40 percent receiving care are women.

Homeless Basics: The National Health Care for the Homeless Council statistics about homeless health projects around the nation.

Issues in Homeless Health: Seminar overview with charts regarding homeless health issues.

Homelessness and Health: Alcoholism and mental illness are two major health issues facing the homeless.

What is Tuberculosis?: Tuberculosis (TB) is making a comeback in the United States and the homeless are at risk. Read about what TB is and how to get tested for it.

Health and Human Services Guidelines: Protecting the health of all, especially those who have difficulty helping themselves in regard to health.

Street Newspapers

Street newspapers address issues related to the homeless and the poverty which envelopes them. The homeless are the vendors. They sell each paper for a nominal price, about a buck. The vendor pays for his papers upfront, then keeps the remaining 60-80 percent of the profit. This self-sufficiency often gets the homeless vendor back into permanent housing and back up on his feet.

North American Street Newspaper Association: Nonprofit regional support for the International Network of Street Papers consisting of 110 papers in over 40 countries.

Street News Service: The best stories published in street newspapers.

Streetwise Magazine: Same as the street newspaper, just in a magazine format.

Streetvibes: See how this Cincinnati street newspaper is set up to help alleviate the extreme poverty of homelessness.

Reasons to Publish a Street Paper: Why Columbus, Ohio decided to publish its street newspaper.

Homeless Law

Homelessness is federally defined by law as a person "who does not have a regular, fixed, and adequate nighttime residence" or someone who lives in a temporary shelter for the homeless or someone living in a temporary residence while waiting to be institutionalized. If they are sleeping in a place not fit for human beings they are considered homeless. If eviction is imminent, meaning one week from today, you are considered homeless. Or if you are getting discharged from jail, a mental institution, or other facility where you've lived more that a month (30 days) and have nowhere to go, no money, no support or resources, you are considered homeless. There are laws in place to help the homeless including the McKinney-Vento Act of 1987.

National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty: Its mission is to "prevent and end homelessness by serving as the legal arm of the nationwide movement to end homelessness."

What is Considered Homeless: The McKinney Act of 1987 federal definition of homelessness.

REACH: NYU's Research, Education, and Advocacy to Combat Homelessness student organization serving homeless communities.

Poverty Law: Resources for University of Michigan law students and others to expand on their knowledge and service projects regarding those in poverty.

Social Security and the Homeless: Full text of the new social security regulations for the homeless.

Homeless Children

Children under the age of 18 make up 1.37 million of the total homeless population in the United States. That is over a third of the 3.5 million plus who experience homelessness in any given year. Children the world over live and work the streets of most large cities in countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo, India, and Vietnam. Most are at risk of desolation, murder, prostitution, and extreme hunger and health issues.

Homeless Children's Bill: USC students draft a bill that will keep homeless children from being separated from their parents.

McKinney-Vento Act: Enacted to provide education for homeless students across America.

Homeless Legislation: Regulations regarding education for homeless children and youth, including grant information for states and localities.

UNICEF Street Children: How does UNICEF define street children.

Street Children: The Human Rights Watch section on street children from around the world.

Shelters & Programs

Finding shelter for homeless people is a national problem. The solutions are local. Because no one agency on the national, state, or local level can alleviate homelessness on its own, most must work together and collaborate on finding long and short-term solutions. Most operate on federal funding, but rely on volunteers and faith-based service.

HUD Help: How to find help through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development whether you are a homeless veteran or an assistance provider.

Interagency Council on Homelessness: A national gateway organization that collaborates with many different levels of agencies focused on homelessness on the national, state, and local levels.

National Resource Directory: Portal for wounded, ill, and injured veterans and their families.

Disability and Homelessness: Informative links for disabled homeless persons.

America's Heroes at Work: A Department of Labor project aimed at reintegrating veterans who have traumatic brain injury or post-traumatic stress disorder into the workforce.

Housing Map: Interactive map to help you find housing help for the homeless in your state.

National Housing Institute: National organization publishing Shelterforce Magazine and disseminates information in areas including: affordable housing, equality, and neighborhood change.

Covenant House: This national outreach program takes it to the streets to give the homeless food, blankets, and compassion.

The Nine Line: Talk to someone now, don't take it to the streets, don't hurt yourself. Call 1-800-999-9999, Covenant House's long time help line. Confidential.

Emergency Food and Shelter: The United Way program was created in 1983 to aid local human health and social service agencies nationwide.


The issue of homelessness is multidisciplinary. The issues may represent a national outcry, but they are far from personal. Each homeless person represents a unique story and must be treated in a unique way as every person, every veteran's, every family situation is different. These links represent some of the other aspects of homelessness: the art, the hope, the stories, and the compassion.

Hunger and Homelessness Task Force: Featured resources include the .pdf on the 25-city report on U.S. Homelessness by

Homeless Doesn't Mean Criminal: Two views of homelessness in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Homeless Museum of Art: The most unsettled art museum in the U.S. provides for homeless artists.

Scared of the Kids: The organized homeless children of the Brazilian streets.

Life on the Streets: Stories that give the reader insight into what it means to be homeless.

Stories About Homeless Children: The National Center for Family Homelessness story page. Also read the national findings on family homelessness.

HELP USA: Over a quarter of a million people provided with homes, jobs, and services since 1986.

Domestic Violence Fact Sheet: The relationship between domestic violence and homelessness.

Homeless Issues and Programs: Resources for the study of homelessness and its housing and hunger issues, among many, many more.

The Shelter Network: The description of San Francisco's hand up to the homeless.