National Coalition for the Homeless
||This article needs additional citations for verification. (December 2011)|
The National Coalition for the Homeless is a national network of people who are currently experiencing or who have experienced homelessness, activists and advocates, community-based and faith-based service providers, and others committed to a single mission. That mission is to end homelessness.
The roots of NCH began in 1981 when the founder, Robert Hayes, filed a lawsuit on behalf of a man experiencing homelessness in New York City. The lawsuit was settled out of court, and people experiencing homelessness won the right to shelter in New York City. The Coalition for the Homeless in New York City formed as one of the early community-based coalitions. With the development of other local and statewide homeless coalitions, the National Coalition for the Homeless was formed in 1982 and incorporated in 1984, and was recognized as a tax-exempt, not for profit organization under the 501(c) (3) internal revenue code in 1988.
Since the establishment of NCH, many other cities in the United States have created organizations which are members of the network, such as Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle and Houston. There are also statewide coalitions, like those in Massachusetts and Colorado, and organizations focusing on the region. The local factions of Coalition for the Homeless often rely on volunteers to help with the programs assisting those who are homeless and at risk of being homeless.
NCH is committed to creating the systemic and attitudinal changes necessary to prevent and end homelessness. Simultaneously, NCH works to meet the immediate needs of people who are currently experiencing homelessness or who are at risk of doing so. One of the guiding principles of NCH is to include people experiencing homelessness in all aspects of its work. NCH works to empower communities and those experiencing homelessness to advocate for positive change, while acting as a national voice for these local advocates. NCH's focus is on advocacy work in four policy areas: affordable housing, comprehensive health care, livable incomes, and the preservation of civil rights. To achieve these goals, NCH utilizes six major strategies: policy advocacy, litigation, public education, community organization, research, and technical assistance.
NCH projects include: National Homeless Persons Memorial Day (since 1990 on December 21 each year, the longest night of the year) in an effort to honor all the men, women and children who have died while homeless, Hate Crimes and Violence on Main Street USA reports, Criminalization of Homelessness reports, Co-sponsors National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, the week before Thanksgiving. There are also local projects which seek to make the issue of homelessness more visible to the public, such as the One Night Count, conducted by the Coalition of the Homeless in the Seattle area.
NCH Historical Highlights
- McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act signed into law, 1987
- National Housing Trust Fund signed into law, 2008
- You Don't Need a Home to Vote Program registered over 25,000 homeless and low income voters since inception
NCH Program Areas
Bring America Home Campaign
This national, broad-based initiative is dedicated to the goal of ending homelessness. The Campaign utilizes the principles and action of public education and grassroots organizing to increase support for progressive policies and legislation. It is founded on the values that all people need affordable housing, livable incomes, health care, education, and protection of their civil rights.
NCH has remained the substantive voice in the federal legislative process for people who are experiencing homelessness. NCH's policy advocacy works diligently to ensure that mainstream resources and opportunities are available to families and individuals who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. Specific goals include: housing that is affordable to the lowest income Americans, comprehensive, accessible health care and other support services, livable incomes and civil rights protections.
NCH's technical assistance activities include: consultation on a variety of issues in response to specific requests, and trainings at state and regional conferences on how to organize and advocate around issues of affordable housing, living incomes, access to health care and the protection of the civil rights of homeless persons.
NCH educates the public about causes of, and solutions to, homelessness.
Faces of Homeless Speakers’ Bureau and Homeless Empowerment Project
This program is made up of people who are or have been homeless and works to educate the public about homelessness and what can be done to end it. In addition, the Homeless Empowerment Project works to empower those homeless participants to advocate on their own behalf through the Faces of Homelessness Speakers’ Bureau, workshops, trainings and community involvement. The Faces of Homelessness Speakers' Bureau averages over 300 presentations each year. In 2008, the Faces of Homelessness Speakers’ Bureau spoke to 340 groups, over 17,000 audience members from 40, traveling to 19 states, and has expanded to 12 new locations across the state of Florida. The goal of the Speakers' Bureau is to put a human face to homelessness, to break the stereotypes and misconceptions people have about homelessness and educate people on how they can get involved in their community to help end homelessness.
Homeless Challenge Project
This new program challenges candidates for public office, incumbents, and public officials to give up their everyday privileges and spend a short period of time on the streets or in a shelter to experience homelessness in their community. These Homeless Challenge participants come away with a greater understanding of what it means to be homeless in the United States and what they can do to promote policies that will end homelessness. This program also serves college age youth and other community members who want to experience first hand the trials of being homeless a popular experience for college students on alternative breaks.
NCH Website and Publications
The NCH website includes detailed policy analyses, fact sheets, publications, directories, action alerts, and a calendar of events. Monthly newsletters are distributed to thousands of subscribers nationwide. NCH also publishes numerous reports addressing a wide range of topics related to homelessness
NCH takes as a first principle of practice that persons who are or have been homeless must be actively involved in the resolution of homelessness.
National Homeless Civil Rights Organizing Project (NHCROP)
The civil rights of people experiencing homelessness are continually violated, whether it be by hate crimes/violence committed against them, or by unjust laws making it illegal to be homeless. NCH is concerned about this illegal disenfranchisement of people experiencing homelessness, and NHCROP exists to protect the civil rights of people in homeless situations. Every year since 1999, NCH has published a report on hate crimes committed on the homeless called Hate, Violence, and Death on Main Street USA: A Report on Hate Crimes And Violence Against People Experiencing Homelessness.. Every two years, NCH also publishes a report on the criminalization of homelessness called A Dream Denied: The Criminalization of Homelessness in U.S. Cities. In July 2009 in collaboration with The National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, NCH released a report titled Homes not Handcuffs: The Criminalization of Homelessness in U.S. Cities.
You Don’t Need a Home to Vote Campaign
This campaign seeks to protect and promote the right of homeless people to vote. Since 1992, NCH and its partners have registered thousands of homeless people nationwide. NCH continues to update their Voting Rights Manual, encouraging local service organizations to register voters as a part of intake services, hold get out the vote campaigns and candidate forums, promote voter information sessions, and participate in National Low Income Voter Registration drives each election year.
Every year, NCH publishes factsheets on topics ranging from "Federal Policies" and "Who is Homeless" to "Rural Homelessness" and "What You Can Do." NCH also publishes an annual report on Hate Crimes against the homeless, and every two years a report about the Criminalization of Homelessness. NCH continues to be on the forefrunt of emerging issues relating to homelessness, releasing research reports on the Foreclosre Crisis, Feeding Restrictions, Couch Hopping, and Homeless Deaths. In addition to these publications, NCH provides technical assistance through annually published manuals on Voting Rights, and Organizing a Homeless Persons Memorial Day.
Actions against anti-homeless bigotry
The NCH has campaigned vocally against what it calls video exploitation of homeless people. The group stated that the Bumfights videos disseminate hate against the homeless and dehumanize them. Calling the video series, they campaigned for retailers to stop carrying the DVDs. The group has since campaigned against similar amateur "bumfight"-like videos on video sharing websites such as YouTube and against Shefights.net, a woman-focused bumfight video website.
- National Coalition for the Homeless, "American Nightmare: A Decade of Homelessness in the United States", December 1989
National and Local Organizations
This is a partial list of the many local Coalition for the Homeless branches in the United States.
- Central Florida Coalition for the Homeless
- Chicago Coalition for the Homeless
- Colorado Coalition for the Homeless
- Florida Coalition for the Homeless
- Houston Coalition for the Homeless
- Louisville Coalition for the Homeless
- Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless
- Michigan Coalition for the Homeless
- Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless
- New York Coalition for the Homeless
- Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless
- San Diego Coalition for the Homeless
- Coalition on Homelessness, San Francisco
- Seattle Coalition for the Homeless
- Washington, DC Coalition for the Homeless
- Washington State Coalition for the Homeless
- Yakima County Coalition for the Homeless