Congregations and religious organizations can live out our mission and offer hope to those in distress by responding to the immediate needs of those who are homeless or hungry, as many already do. But we can also be a voice for public policies that help to prevent hunger and homelessness and that create the programs necessary to end hunger and homelessness in our time. By combining direct service with advocacy, we can lift up those in need today, even as we create the foundations for a more just and compassionate community tomorrow.
The creation of a just and compassionate state requires more of us than charity. It also requires advocacy—participation in civic life to promote public policies that will prevent and end hunger, homelessness and poverty. This page includes:
Religious congregations and faith-based nonprofit organizations play an important role in responding to hunger and homelessness in our midst. Some congregations take on a project they run themselves, while others join together with other congregations in their region to combine forces and coordinate their response. Some choose to help by supporting or working in partnership with a faith-based or secular nonprofit agency that is already responding to hunger and homelessness in their community. Once a congregation has decided to respond, then the decision about how to respond is equally important. Here are some different approaches to choose from and some resources for reflection, worship and action.
Bread for the World is a collective Christian voice urging our nation's decision makers to end hunger at home and abroad. Their many programs include the ever-popular “offering of letters” approach to involving congregations in advocacy on behalf of the poor and hungry. Find out more.
Episcopal Church USA Domestic Poverty/Jubilee Ministries.
The National Council of Churches Poverty Initiative has a website with lots of good resources.
Presbyterian Church USA report, “From Homelessness to Hope” and Homelessness and Affordable Housing Sunday Resource Packet.
The Union of Reform Judaism web-page on economic justice and poverty has a lot of excellent resources on hunger, homelessness and poverty.
U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development website on homelessness.
U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) website.
“Opening Doors” is the title of the U.S. Strategic Plan to End Homelessness. The HEARTH Act, enacted by Congress in May 2009, mandated that the USICH produce a "national strategic plan" to end homelessness. Beginning in January 2010, USICH held regional stakeholder meetings, organized federal working groups focused on specific populations, solicited public comment through an interactive website, and engaged experts from across the country to develop an action plan to solve homelessness for veterans, adults, families, youth and children. The result of that mandate and engagement of all stakeholders is Opening Doors. It was presented to Congress and the President on June 22, 2010.
Oregon Department of Housing and Community Services website.
Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH) - CSH helps communities create permanent housing with services to prevent and end homelessness. CSH is a leading resource for those working to provide permanent housing combined with supportive services that meet the complex needs of many homeless individuals and families—especially those dealing with addictions, mental illness and other challenges that often contribute to chronic homelessness. You can learn more about CSH.
National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth (NAEHCY) describes itself as “the voice and social conscience for the education of children and youth experiencing homelessness.” NAEHCY accomplishes this through advocacy, partnerships and education. Visit their website.
National Center on Family Homelessness (NCFH) claims to be the only national organization dedicated solely to helping homeless families. They conduct state-of-the-art research, develop and share innovative solutions, and create public awareness about the special needs of homeless families. Their mission is to end family homelessness in America. Find out more. The Campaign to End Child Homelessness is a project of the NCFH, but has a dedicated website.
National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH) is a national network of people committed to a single mission—to end homelessness. The National Coalition for the Homeless works to create the systemic and attitudinal changes necessary to prevent and end homelessness. At the same time, NCH works to meet the immediate needs of people who are currently experiencing homelessness or who are at risk of doing so. NCH stresses that individuals who are currently homeless or formerly homeless must be actively engaged in the organization and its work. Toward this end, the NCH engages in public education, policy advocacy, and grassroots organizing for housing justice, economic justice, health care justice, and civil rights. Learn more.
National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty (NLCHP) has some great materials on the causes of homelessness and a corresponding section on solutions to homelessness. They have been leaders in efforts to recognize a human right to housing in the United States and have worked actively against the “criminalization of homelessness.” Find out more.
National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) is dedicated solely to achieving socially just public policy that assures people with the lowest incomes in the United States have affordable and decent homes. To accomplish this mission, the NLIHC works (1) to preserve existing federally-assisted homes and housing resources; (2) to expand the supply of low income housing; and (3) to establish housing stability as the primary purpose of federal low income housing policy. Find out more about the NLIHC.
National Alliance to End Homelessness (NAEH) is a nonprofit, non-partisan, organization committed to preventing and ending homelessness in the United States. NAEH works to improve policy, build capacity, and educate opinion leaders. Find out more.
Ten Year Plans to End Homelessness. Faith leaders and activists have been participating in cooperation with nonprofit leaders and government officials on the development of Ten Year Plans to End Homelessness at the local, state and national levels. Ten-year plans can be a useful tool for identifying priorities and mobilizing community resources to prevent, reduce and ultimately end homelessness.