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Homeless Challenge Project

  • Hamline University

    If you have never experienced homelessness, you might have thought, “I can’t imagine living like that.” But at the National Coalition for the Homeless we ask you to put that thought into reality. Through the challenge you will be put into the dire situation that homeless individuals face everyday. NCH hopes that you will gain both an understanding and recognition of the homeless community, and a level of awareness will be obtained at the end of your experience.

  • UIUC Outside

    Since 2000, the National Coalition for the Homeless has organized homeless challenges for schools and organizations from across the country. Thousands of people (primarily college students) have spent 48 hours living homeless on the streets of the Nation’s Capital.

    The Homeless Challenge serves as an educational program that focuses on developing personal awareness about the realities of homelessness. The core objectives of the Challenge are:

    • Familiarize and sensitize participants with the realities and hardships of homelessness 
    • Gain firsthand knowledge of the growing crisis of homelessness 
    • See the world through the eyes of a homeless person and get to know people who are currently experiencing homelessness 
    • Become aware of community attitudes toward people who are experiencing homelessness 
    • Become familiar with the social services network and methods of everyday survival

    Afterwards, the panelists will offer ways for people to get involved, from volunteering at shelters to influencing legislation.

    What the Homeless Challenge is not:

    • An opportunity for housed individuals to masquerade as homeless persons or be "tourists" looking at homeless people.
    • A full representation of homelessness (most participants have a home to return to after the Challenge). 
    • A chance to conduct research or pursue journalistic endeavors. 
    • An "undercover" mission to find out what is really going on in the streets of the city.
  • Xavier University

    The Homeless Challenge is open to any individual or group, including corporate executives, who are willing to empty their wallets and spend time on the streets as a person who is homeless for up to 48 hours.

    If you are interested in accepting the challenge:

    1. Download and read the Homeless Challenge Manual
    2. Fill out Homeless Challenge Participant Event Form, making sure to include your preferred dates and number of participants, and then send to Please keep in mind that the Homeless Challenge Project is aimed at adult participants. If you'd like to schedule a daytime-only Homeless Challenge for younger individuals and others, please instead fill out this form.
    3. Complete and sign the waiver form

    Once we receive your event form, we will confirm with you that the dates work.

    For more information, please contact us at 202.462.4822 or


Need Help?

Find information and resources if
  • You or your family is currently homeless
  • You or your family is in danger of becoming homeless


Find more information on topics ranging from Criminalization to How to Get Involved:
  • Reports
  • Manuals
  • Factsheets

Take Action

Be a part of the solution:
  • Donate
  • Organize
  • Advocate
  • Volunteer
  • Request a Speaker


National Coalition for the Homeless | 2201 P St NW, Washington, DC 20037 | (202) 462-4822 | info [at] nationalhomeless [dot] org
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