Homeless Self-Help and Empowerment Projects
Published by the National Coalition for the Homeless, July 2009
NCH offers the following opportunities for people who have experienced homelessness to join us in ending and preventing homelessness:
LOCAL COMMUNITY ORGANIZING
You can not only help organize homeless self-help and empowerment projects nationally through the National Coalition but in your local community as well. Some examples of this have been seen around the country. For example, in St. Louis EcoUrban Homes, a company that is building homes where normally traditional contractors build. This company plans to put up 30 to 40 green homes per year and has a certification for having environmentally friendly features. Also they have an idea to work on rebuilding homes that only take a small amount of time to set up and move people into. These homes are hard for normal contractors to get into because they are so narrow. Both of these ideas will help provide more affordable housing for the population in St. Louis (St Louis Business Journal). This can help house many that are homeless within the city. Not enough affordable housing is one reason why some people become homeless. This is just one example of how a local company/ organization can help their homeless population and get them back on their feet. Many cities have homeless empowerment project offices and you can help by calling your local office and asking how you can help in your community.
COMMUNITY ORGANIZING OPPORTUNITIES
- Become a Volunteer Community Organizer for NCH
NCH seeks to ensure that our work is shaped and supported by people who are experiencing homelessness. In order to make sure that all viewpoints are heard, it is important that we are in touch with as many people on the local level as possible. To get involved with organizing efforts in your community, contact Michael Stoops at (202) 462-4822 or email@example.com.
- Conduct a Homeless Voter Registration Campaign
People experiencing homelessness must become involved in electing public officials who will represent their concerns. NCH sponsors the "YouDon’t Need a Home to Vote" nonpartisan voter registration/education/get-out-the-vote campaign each federal election cycle. To obtain our voting rights registration manual and poster or to learn how to advocate for a homeless voting rights written policy or law in your state, contact Michael Stoops at (202) 462-4822 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit http://www.nationalhomeless.org/getinvolved/projects/vote/index.html.
- Join the National Homeless Civil Rights Organizing Project
NCH’s National Homeless Civil Rights Organizing Project (NHCROP) addresses the growing trend of homelessness being criminalized as well as the rise in hate crimes and violence against people experiencing homelessness. NHCROP’s nine regional field sites are working to stop these problems through documentation, community organizing, policy advocacy, and litigation. To reach the field site nearest you or to become a civil rights advocate in your area, contact Michael Stoops at (202) 462-4822 or email@example.com, or visit http://www.nationalhomeless.org/getinvolved/projects/nhcrop.html.
POLICY ADVOCACY/ LOBBYING OPPORTUNITIES
- Join an NCH Policy Work Group
NCH has established work groups for civil rights/grassroots organizing and policy to provide direction to the NCH staff and board of directors on public policy issues. To receive regular mailings or become a participant in the monthly, toll-free conference calls of one of our policy workgroups, call (202) 462-4822 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Respond to NCH Legislative Action Alerts
NCH Legislative Action Alerts provide updates about activities in Congress affecting homelessness. When an alert comes out, it will tell you what you can do to influence policies that are made on a national level. To receive NCH Legislative Action Alerts, become an NCH member. To join, contact NCH at (202) 462-4822 or email@example.com, or visit http://www.nationalhomeless.org/about_us/membership.html.
PUBLIC EDUCATION OPPORTUNITIES
- Join or Form a Speakers Bureau
Through NCH’s "Faces of Homelessness"panel presentations, people who have experienced homelessness personalize the issue for audiences who may never have spoken to a person who has experienced homelessness. Speakers Bureau presentations also dispel stereotypes about people who experience homelessness and inspire community responses. People who speak on "Faces of Homelessness" panels also gain valuable skills and experience. To organize or participate in a "Faces of Homelessness" panel in your community or to set up your own Speakers Bureau, contact the Speakers Bureau Coordinator, Michael Stoops, at (202) 462-4822 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit http://www.nationalhomeless.org/faces/index.html.
- Start or Contribute to a Street Newspaper
Street newspapers educate the general public about homelessness and create an outlet for people experiencing homelessness to have their articles, editorials, letters to the editor, cartoons, photos, artwork, and poetry published while providing them with employment opportunities as vendors and writers. To locate the street newspaper nearest you or for assistance in establishing a newspaper in your community, contact Michael Stoops at (202) 462-4822 or email@example.com.
- Participate in National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week
Each year, the National Coalition for the Homeless and the National Student Campaign against Hunger and Homelessness co-sponsor an awareness week during the first full week before Thanksgiving to remind people of the problem of homelessness and to talk about how it can be solved. Awareness weeks are organized in more than 500 campuses and communities nationwide. For more information or to order an organizing guide, contact Michael Stoops at (202) 462-4822 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Recognize National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day
Every year, on or around the first day of winter (December 21), nearly 100 communities nationwide hold local memorial services to remember people who have died homeless during that year. To find out if your community already sponsors such an event or for help in organizing one, contact Michael Stoops at (202) 462-4822 or email@example.com, or visit http://www.nationalhomeless.org/projects/memorial/index.html.
BECOME A MEMBER OF NCH
- Join the National Coalition for the Homeless
If you become a member of NCH, you will receive our quarterly newsletter, Safety Network, monthly policy updates, a 50% discount on NCH publications and merchandise, and timely legislative action alerts. NCH offers low or no cost memberships to low-income people and those who are currently homeless or who have experienced homelessness. To join, contact NCH at (202) 462-4822 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit http://www.nationalhomeless.org/about_us/membership.html.
- Join your Local or Statewide Homeless/Housing Coalition
There are nearly 300 local and statewide homeless/housing coalitions in all 50 states, including Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. To find the local or state homeless coalition nearest you, contact NCH at (202) 462-4822 or email@example.com, or visit http://www.nationalhomeless.org/directories/index.html.