The United States, while being considered a wealthy country in comparison to many others in the world, faces a growing need for assistance for the homeless. As the economy forces more and more people to give up their homes to live in their vehicles or on the street, resources to provide assistance are being stretched to the limit, with the number of people requiring temporary shelter far outstripping the number of beds available. Many organizations do their best to provide assistance for those requiring temporary shelter, a hot meal and other services.
The National Coalition for the Homeless – The NCH is a network of people nationwide who have either been homeless or are currently homeless, community and faith-based service providers, activists, and other community-minded individuals with a single aim to eradicate homelessness and providing immediate assistance to those currently homeless, as well as protecting their civil rights. The NCH was formed over 30 years ago to get both local and state organizations to work together to help the homeless get access to affordable housing. The NCH welcomes input and participation from those who have experienced homelessness firsthand.
Volunteers of America – The aim of Volunteers of America is to put an end to homelessness through helping those already homeless as well as offering services that prevent people from becoming homeless. The organization works to help people facing eviction, provide emergency assistance and help with transitional housing until able to get them into more permanent and affordable housing. Once the organization offers assistance they follow through until the homeless person(s) are able to become self-sufficient again. The organization is aware that providing housing is not enough to end homelessness, so endeavor to provide a wide range of supportive services also, and is responsible for helping over 2 million homeless people every year.
Catholic Charities U.S.A. – The organization believes that every person has the right to safe, affordable housing, and that having a home is essential to their well-being and health, in order for them to lead a productive life. The organization helps both the homeless and those facing the probability of becoming homeless, through assistance with rent/mortgage payments, utility payments, shelter in a crisis, temporary, transitional, supportive and permanent housing for anyone who is in need including seniors, young persons, disabled and the mentally ill. The organization is also able to put people in touch with others who can help them avoid eviction due to the inability to meet their mortgage or rent obligations, providing counseling and information to help with purchasing a home, financing options and foreclosure prevention.
StandUp for Kids – The mission of the organization is to put an end to youth homelessness. Since 1990 they have been working to provide assistance for young people up to the age of 25 in major cities across the nation. The people who work for the organization are volunteers and work to build a rapport with kids who are living on the street and/or have nowhere to go home to. They also work with young parents. They have four core programs: Street Outreach, Outreach Centers, Mentoring, and Apartment Support. One of the reasons the organization is different to other similar services is that it works with youth through to their 25th birthday whereas most others only provide assistance up to the age of 18.
HELP U.S.A. – This organization was found in 1986 on the premise that every person in the United States deserves safe, stable housing. HELP runs programs in homelessness prevention, offers emergency and transitional housing/shelter, and builds and offers permanent rental properties. HELP believes that the most effective way to eradicate homelessness is to provide services that prevent people from becoming homeless before it happens, as it is more humane and is cheaper than the cost of helping someone after they have become homeless. For those already homeless the organization provides transitional housing until they are able to get the person into more permanent accommodations. They provide services for both children and adults.
Local Churches and Volunteer-based Agencies – In almost every town and city across America there are churches and other non-profit organizations that operate on the charity and volunteering of community members who wish to help those who find themselves homeless. Most of these churches and organizations operate on very limited funds but do their best to provide food, clothing and health checks. Many run “soup kitchens” that will provide at least one nutritious meal a week, ensuring that the homeless have at least one decent meal available to them. Others are able to provide several meals a week, canned goods, warm clothing and basic necessities such as brushes, toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap etc. While many of these organizations are faith-based the homeless are welcome to avail themselves of the services offered regardless of their faith.