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: To end and prevent homelessness while ensuring the immediate needs of those experiencing homelessness are met and their civil rights are respected and protected.
We envision a world where everyone has a safe, decent, accessible and affordable home.
NCH affirms the following Guiding Principles/Values:
- We can end and prevent homelessness.
- People who are currently experiencing or have experienced homelessness must be leaders in all the work of NCH and in the movement to end homelessness.
- NCH believes in the dignity of all people: housing, healthy food, quality health care, education and livable incomes are basic human rights.
- It is morally, ethically, and legally wrong to discriminate against and criminalize people struggling to meet their basic needs.
- Public policy makers and elected officials at all levels must be held accountable to end the systemic and structural causes of homelessness.
- Structural racism and discrimination are root causes of homelessness and violates human dignity.
- Collaboration between NCH and its diverse stakeholders, is critical in directing NCH’s work.
When modern homelessness first emerged in the late 1970s, hundreds of thousands of homeless were forced to fend for themselves with little emergency assistance from governments and communities. The roots of the National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH) begin 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.
For more than 30 years, NCH has been a leader on the forefront of emerging issues relating to poverty and homelessness. NCH was the first national advocacy organization to involve homeless/formerly homeless people in leadership positions, take on the issues of the educational needs/rights of homeless children and veteran homelessness, first to convene a national homelessness conference, and the first to have a website. NCH staff has helped to draft federal, state and local legislation, like the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act of 1987. The organization has long advocated for addressing the root causes of homelessness, including the lack of affordable housing, through policy advocacy (supporting efforts like the Bringing America Home Act), grassroots organizing (building a national movement led by people who have been un-housed), and public education (dispelling negative stereotypes and preserving civil rights of people experiencing homelessness).
Throughout NCH’s history, homeless led advocacy has worked to create lasting local solutions to the national problem of homelessness.
NCH's board is diverse ethnically and geographically. Members include service providers, academics, and organizers; at least one quarter of the board are homeless/formerly homeless men and women; all are advocates.
|Barbara Anderson, Treasurer
Haven House Services
Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless
COSAC Foundation, Inc
Sacramento Regional Coalition to End Homelessness
Nashua Soup Kitchen & Shelter, Inc
|Dr. Rajni Shankar-Brown, Secretary
Stetson University, Department of Education
Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless
House the Homeless, Inc.
|Sue Watlov Phillips, President
Metropolitan Interfaith Council on Affordable Housing
St. Paul, MN
|Ruth Ann White
National Center for Housing and Child Welfare
College Park, MD
Brian Davis, Director of Grassroots Organizing
Brian Davis graduated from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio and began his social justice career volunteering to edit the Homeless Grapevine street newspaper out of the offices of the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless. Soon a program management position opened at the Coalition for the Homeless and Davis spent the next 23 years managing the local advocacy organization as executive director. He built the organization from a one person shop to a 22 person organization with a legal assistance program, a housing program, a community voice mail system, the street newspaper and community outreach. Brian served on the NCH Board for 14 years, and joined staff in 2021.
Donald Whitehead, Executive Director
Donald Hugh Whitehead Jr. is recognized as a leading expert on homelessness, having served as the Executive Director of the Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless, Assistant Director at St. Vincent de Paul of Baltimore, Program Director at Ohio Valley Goodwill, Grant Manager at Goodwill of Greater Washington and Director of Communications at Greenpeace Ohio. Donald served two terms as President of the Board of Directors for the National Coalition for the Homeless, two terms on the Board of Directors for Faces and Voices of Recovery and two terms on the Georgetown Center for Cultural Competency.
Doreatha Washington, Office Manager
After many years in administration, Doreatha became connected to NCH through a training placement in 2013, and was hired in 2016. Doreatha provides daily interaction with at-risk and homeless callers, giving her a more concerned heart for the overall assistance and advocacy to end homelessness. It gives her great joy being a good Listener and Encourager!
Kelvin Lassiter, Policy Analyst
Kelvin was raised in a middle class family in the suburbs of Washington, DC. Life challenged him early, lack of communication within the family, and home foreclosure. The death of his mother sent Kelvin into a very dark space fueling and uncovering drug addiction. After nearly three years of homelessness, it along with legal trouble had taken it's toll. Just when Kelvin considered giving up, a minister entered his life that believed in him and decided to help him. There is no shortage of praise when Kelvin speaks about Reverend J.C. Melvin. He worked with Kelvin and shaped his focus to becoming a productive man in society. Now being rightfully restored, Kelvin embraced several meaningful relationships that shaped the direction of his recovery. In 2009, Kelvin began his homeless advocacy with the National Coalition for the Homeless. Also in 2009, he wrote and self-published two self help books. Kelvin and his wife of 15 years currently reside in Washington, DC.
Megan Hustings, Deputy Director
Megan came to NCH as an AmeriCorps*VISTA volunteer in 2006. After her year of service she was hired as Development Director, moving on to be the Director of Operations before stepping into the director role. She has moved NCH into the 21st century, spearheading social media and website development, as well as membership development and base building activities. Megan grew up in Kansas, playing card games with nuns and visiting family in Wales. She graduated from Grinnell College in Iowa and moved to Baltimore. She has worked for a variety of anti-poverty efforts since childhood. In previous employment, Megan provided case management and life-skills training for individuals with developmental disabilities, and managed electronic journal and database subscriptions for university libraries. She enjoys spending time with her daughters and crafting.
Steve Thomas, Public Education Coordinator
A native Washingtonian, Steve enlisted in the Air Force at 21, traveling around the world before returning home in 1984. After returning, Steve continued traveling working as a truck driver. Throughout this time he struggled with addiction, and eventually lost his home. Steve ended up back in Downtown DC where, “as I walked down Pennsylvania Avenue, I saw people on every single bench, and then it hit me: ‘They’re homeless, and I am too.’” One day a volunteer doctor working on a Homeless Care and Outreach Van asked Steve, “Would you allow me to help you?” Steve said yes. He moved into transitional housing, where he met a member of NCH Speakers’ Bureau. Steve has spoken with NCH ever since. He took over managing the Faces of Homelessness Speakers’ Bureau and other public education programs at the start of 2017.
Tyler Richardson, Executive Assistance and Membership Coordinator
We are proud to be members of the Coalition on Human Needs, Coalition for Housing and Community Development Funding (CHCDF), the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and many other working groups on issues relating to poverty, housing and homelessness.