Stand Together: Your Voice Matters in the Fight for the Rights of People Experiencing Homelessness

A Call to Unity in Johnson v. Grants Pass

In the face of ongoing challenges, the resilience of our community—particularly those with lived experience of homelessness—continues to inspire and drive change. One such pivotal moment of change is upon us, as the Supreme Court prepares to hear a case that could significantly impact the rights of homeless individuals across the nation: Johnson v. Grants Pass.

This landmark case centers on the rights of homeless individuals in Grants Pass, Oregon, challenging ordinances that penalize life-sustaining activities in public spaces. At its heart, Johnson v. Grants Pass isn’t just about one town; it’s a reflection of the broader struggle for dignity, respect, and the right to exist in public spaces without fear of harassment or punishment.

The Issue at Hand

For too long, our brothers and sisters without homes have faced legal and societal barriers that criminalize their existence. Sleeping, eating, and performing other necessary life activities in public spaces—their last resort—are met with penalties rather than support. Johnson v. Grants Pass brings these injustices to the forefront, challenging us all to reconsider how we treat the most vulnerable among us.

Your Voice is Your Power

This case is a rallying cry for all who believe in justice and human rights. It’s a reminder that together, we can challenge the status quo and advocate for policies that uplift rather than oppress. Your voice is critical in this fight.

Call to Action

Your involvement signifies more than just your support; it embodies hope, unity, and the unwavering belief that change is possible. Let’s stand together for justice, for dignity, and for the rights of all individuals to live freely and without fear.

Here’s how you can stand in solidarity:

  1. Sign the Petition: Add your name to the growing list of individuals calling for an end to the criminalization of homelessness. Each signature sends a strong message to policymakers about the public’s demand for compassionate and humane treatment of all individuals, regardless of their housing status.
  2. Join us for the Housing Not Handcuffs Rally on April 22, 2024, at the Supreme Court: Mark your calendars and make your presence felt. This rally isn’t just about making noise; it’s about showing the strength of our community and the depth of our commitment to change.
  3. Join with communities across the country in holding coordinated actions on April 22nd! Click here to let us know about your local event, or to learn more about what might be happening in your community. Check out our Organizing Skill Share guide for action inspiration and guidance. 

We know that laws are passed and enforced locally. Your City Council, Mayor, and police are the ones implementing anti-homeless policies (such as sweeps) now. So, local actions are really important, in addition to actions in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.

A small group of people can have a BIG impact! Together, we can demonstrate the collective power of individuals united for a common cause.

The Journey Ahead

The path to justice is long and fraught with challenges, but it’s a journey worth taking. Johnson v. Grants Pass is more than a legal battle; it’s a moral one. It’s about affirming the right of every individual to live with dignity and without fear. As we stand on the brink of this historic moment, let’s come together to support those who have been marginalized and to show that humanity and compassion can prevail over indifference and injustice.

Together, We Can Make a Difference

To learn more about Johnson v. Grants Pass and stay informed on the latest developments, here are several avenues you can explore:

  • Official Johnson v Grants Pass Case site
  • NCH info on Criminalization
  • National Homelessness Law Center and the Housing Not Handcuffs Campaign
  • National Alliance to End Homelessness
  • Supreme Court’s Official Website: The United States Supreme Court’s official website offers access to court documents, including briefs, oral arguments, and opinions related to the case. This is a primary source for accurate and up-to-date information.
  • Congressional leaders have unveiled the FY24 THUD spending bill, earmarking significant funding for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) programs focused on affordable housing and homelessness. The bill allocates $70 billion to HUD, marking an $8.3 billion increase from the FY23 levels. This funding boost is seen as a major achievement for the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC)’s national HoUSed campaign, advocates nationwide, and congressional supporters such as Senators Brian Schatz and Cindy Hyde-Smith, along with Representatives Tom Cole and Mike Quigley.

Key Highlights of the FY24 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Spending Bill (excerpted from the National Low Income Housing Coalition – Full link https://nlihc.org/resource/despite-tight-topline-funding-advocates-and-key-congressional-champions-secure-increased)

Noteworthy Funding Details:

– The Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program receives a substantial increase, funded at $32.4 billion, allowing for the renewal of all existing rental assistance contracts and expanding assistance to 3,000 additional households.

– Homeless Assistance Grants see a $418 million increase, totaling $4.05 billion.

– The Public Housing Capital and Operating Funds receive modest increases, with the Capital Fund at $3.41 billion and the Operating Fund at $5.5 billion.

– The Native American Housing Block Grant is boosted by $324 million, reaching $1.1 billion.

– Despite some programs facing cuts, such as the HOME Investment Partnerships Program and the Choice Neighborhoods, significant resources are allocated across various housing and homelessness initiatives.

 

Analysis of Specific Programs:

– Tenant-Based Rental Assistance is set at $32.4 billion, aiming to renew all existing contracts and expand support.

– Public Housing funding includes slight increases for capital and operating funds, with a total of $3.4 billion for the capital account.

– The bill also emphasizes homelessness programs, allocating $4.05 billion for Homeless Assistance Grants, indicating a focused effort to address the homelessness crisis.

Overall Impact:

The FY24 spending bill represents a significant step towards addressing affordable housing and homelessness challenges in the U.S. While it marks progress, NLIHC and its allies continue to advocate for sustained and comprehensive investment in housing assistance to meet the growing needs of Americans facing housing insecurity.

NLIHC Budget Chart FY2024

 

Written by: NCH Policy Lead, Michele Williams ; Edited by Kenia Mazariegos

Photo by Lara Jameson

We are deeply concerned about the recent findings presented in the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR). The report reveals a disturbing 12% overall increase in the number of individuals experiencing homelessness across the nation from 2022 to 2023. This data highlights the pressing need for immediate action to ensure the protection of the human right to housing.

According to AHAR report findings, the number of people experiencing homelessness is the highest since the reporting began in 2007, painting a bleak picture of the current housing crisis. These stark developments are a somber reminder of the inaction and lack of prioritization when it comes to addressing the root causes of homelessness in our country.

We firmly believe that housing is a fundamental human right and cannot overlook the fact that these findings reflect an urgent need for more comprehensive and proactive measures to combat the growing crisis of homelessness in our communities.

As the AHAR report underlines the gravity of the situation, we at NCH urge all stakeholders including government agencies, policymakers, and community leaders to collaborate and redouble their efforts to proactively address homelessness. We call for the immediate allocation of resources and the implementation of long-term solutions that prioritize access to safe and affordable housing for all.

To underscore the need for swift access to housing, communities across the country will commemorate Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day this week (December 21), remembering thousands of neighbors, family members and friends who have passed away prematurely due to lack of permanent and safe housing.

 Today, join the National Coalition for the Homeless, the National Health Care for the Homeless Council, and the National Consumer Advisory Board to remember the lives of those we have lost this year and continue our fight to end homelessness. NHCHC CEO Bobby Watts and NCH Executive Director Donald Whitehead will speak, along with Reverend Dr. Elizabeth Theoharis from the Poor People’s CampaignWarren Magee, NCAB Steering Committee member and Chair of the Consumer Advisory Board at Boston Health Care for the Homeless; Dr. Catherine Crosland, Director of Homeless Outreach Development at Unity Health Care in Washington, D.C.; and Madalyn KarbanBhavana Akula, and Ishaan Akula from NCH’s National Youth Division, Bring America Home NOW.The program will also feature art by artist and advocate Tammy De Grouchy Grubbs and an original spoken word performance from Charlotte A. Garner, Regional Representative, NCAB Board Steering Committee, Chair of the Ellen Dailey Advocacy Committee, and Chair of the Healthcare for the Homeless Houston Change Committee. If your community is hosting a memorial, please register your event here.
On this day, we come together as a community to mourn and remember those we have lost due to homelessness. It is a solemn occasion that reminds us of the dire consequences posed by the lack of stable, secure housing for our most vulnerable neighbors.

Together, let us reaffirm our commitment to upholding the right to housing and work towards a future where homelessness is eradicated, and every individual has a place to call home.
Join us for HPMD

The National Coalition For The Homeless is releasing a vital informative report called Design Against Humanity, highlighting the many ways that Hostile Architecture is used to prevent full use of public space, especially by certain members of our communities. 

We have witnessed many examples of hostile architecture in the five cities visited so far on the Local Power Tour – Los Angeles, Sacramento, Seattle, Miami and Atlanta. Most all the cities placed boulders throughout underpasses or in front of city buildings, have benches with bars in the middle, and/or use eco blocks to prevent RVs from stopping and parking.  

Seattle had the most aggressive usage of some of these methods. There were eco blocks in industrial areas installed by the local businesses to ensure no RVs or cars could park near or in front of their businesses. There were fenced off areas surrounding underpasses and anywhere people could possibly stop and rest.  

Los Angeles uses loud music in their metro stations and, after a recent sweep in Hollywood, planters of various sizes were installed to avoid the return of long term residents, their tents and belongings.  

Miami has double fencing surrounding their underpasses to prevent people from seeking shelter from the extreme heat and rainstorms. Atlanta has employed similar tactics installing boulders under the highways as well.  

The use of these forms of hostile architecture often result in forcing the unhoused to go into hiding and relocate, often far away from any social services.  It all reads like a slow migration to push the unhoused farther and farther out of site and further from permanent housing. But many of these efforts also make public spaces unwelcome to people who have disabilities, families, and older persons. 

Many people are not aware of, or do not notice, hostile architecture. Once we understand the examples, we start to see just how much our cities have made public space unwelcoming. This report will help educate and aid our communities and elected officials in understanding the struggles of the people displaced around their cities, where the architecture is often designed to work against them.  

  • Written by Mary Cellini, who leads an NCH Field Office from her organization Housing is Human Right, a project of the Aids Health Foundation. 

Washington, D.C. — In a profoundly disappointing ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court today decided that it is constitutional to arrest or fine homeless individuals for using survival items like blankets or pillows in public spaces when no alternative shelter is available.

“Arresting or fining people for trying to survive is expensive, counterproductive, and cruel,” said Jesse Rabinowitz, campaign and communications director at the National Homelessness Law Center (NHLC). “This inhumane ruling, which contradicts the values of nearly three-quarters of Americans, will make homelessness worse in Grants Pass and nationwide. Cities are now even more empowered to neglect proven housing-based solutions and to arrest or fine those with no choice but to sleep outdoors. While we are disappointed, we are not surprised that this Supreme Court ruled against the interests of our poorest neighbors.”

The Supreme Court decision has set a dangerous precedent, allowing cities to continue to criminalize homelessness instead of addressing the root causes of the issue. People experiencing homelessness should not be punished for their circumstances; all levels of the government have a responsibility to protect the most vulnerable members of society.

Donald H. Whitehead, Jr., executive director of the National Coalition for the Homeless states, “How a society treats its most vulnerable members reflects its values, priorities, and commitment to social justice. Criminalization has consequences. This decision will result in higher costs, more suffering, and death. We are deeply saddened by the Supreme Court’s supreme injustice.”

In Justice Sotomayor’s dissent, the justice states that the ruling, “leaves the most vulnerable in our society with an impossible choice: Either stay awake or be arrested.” Further, Sotomayor says, “I remain hopeful that someday in the near future, this Court will play its role in safeguarding constitutional liberties for the most vulnerable among us. Because the Court today abdicates that role, I respectfully dissent.”

As the dissent states, the Court’s decision today ignores the need to protect people currently experiencing homelessness from harassment, violent attacks, or targeted enforcement of local ordinances.

Housing ends homelessness. The National Coalition for the Homeless, in partnership with the National Coalition for Housing Justice, calls on federal elected officials to invest significantly in housing now. For over 40 years, we have seen federal affordable housing programs decimated, and it is time to transform the trajectory of our housing policy.

As a down payment to ensure that everybody has safe, decent housing that they can afford, we call for:

  • Universal rental assistance for lowest-income households
  • Public housing repair and preservation
  • Full funding of the National Housing Trust Fund
  • Eviction and homelessness prevention
  • Voluntary supportive and emergency services

The long term investment in our communities and country requires a recognition that robust social housing will end homelessness.

Despite this Supreme Court ruling, we know that housing, not handcuffs, solves homelessness, and we will continue our work to ensure that everyone, regardless of race or background, has the housing they need to thrive.

Over the past 23 years, the National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH) has documented nearly 2000 incidents of violence against people who were homeless. Since 1999, at least 588 of unhoused victims have violently been killed just for being unhoused.

These crimes appear to have been motivated by a perpetrator’s bias against people experiencing homelessness, and to have been facilitated by a perpetrator’s ability to target homeless people with relative ease. The crimes are a litany of atrocities: beatings, rapes, mutilations, and murders. The murder victims died in unfathomable ways: not only shot or stabbed to death, but also set on fire, drowned – even beheaded.

This year, we’ve documented shocking levels of law enforcement involvement in attacks against people experiencing homelessness, as well as serial attacks on people experiencing homelessness. Most notably, Oregon saw a whopping 500% increase since the last reported attacks in 2019.

In several states, such as Kentucky, Florida, Missouri, and others, legislation has been enacted that exacerbates the already dire situation faced by those experiencing homelessness. These laws create a vicious cycle of punitive measures that further marginalize and dehumanize people who are already in vulnerable circumstances.

Unfortunately, these injustices have fueled vigilantism and hatred directed towards people who are forced to live outdoors. It is imperative that society recognizes that homelessness is a societal issue and should not be met with violence or unwarranted hostility.

City and county level ordinances also contribute to a perfect storm of dehumanization of people experiencing homelessness that leads to violence. The small town of Grants Pass, Oregon, is one of hundreds of cities nationwide that has passed law banning sleeping outdoors. The Grants Pass ordinance was challenged in court, as there is not enough shelter available in town for everyone who needs it, and the city appealed. On April 22, 2024, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case, and over 700 advocates gathered on the steps of the court to rally in support of Housing, not Handcuffs for people forced to live outdoors. The decision reached in this case has far-reaching implications for the treatment of individuals who have been displaced from their homes.

The quiet town of Grants Pass was surprised in March of 2022, when an unknown assailant set the tent of someone forced to live outdoors on fire. Unfortunately, we should not be surprised.

While NCH has compelling data on the number and severity of attacks in general, many of these acts remain underreported (in part because people experiencing homelessness tend to live on the outskirts of communities). The Bureau of Justice Statistics found that in 2019 “less than half (44%) of violent victimizations (of people experiencing homelessness) are reported to police.” Furthermore, many attacks were likely even more gruesome than available reports imply.

The National Coalition for the Homeless calls upon all stakeholders, including lawmakers, law enforcement agencies, advocacy groups, and community members, to view consider protecting our unhoused neighbors as a vulnerable population. Further, we urge policymakers to invest in the housing and community supports we all need, and that are proven to end homelessness.

Report (without appendices)
Appendix A: Hate Crimes vs. Vulnerable Victims Status
Appendix B: Protected Class Resolution
Appendix C: Hate Crimes Legislation Resource Guide
Appendix D: Case Research and Citations

Read the full report: https://nationalhomeless.org/wp-content/uploads/2024-Hate-Crimes-Report_for-web.pdf

The rally at the Supreme Court impacted me in several ways. I was not unmoved by the underlying reason for being on the steps of the highest court in the nation: protesting the upholding of the right for people to sleep under a blanket if they didn’t have an alternative.

We were fighting extreme bias in a place that has had the most fatal attacks against people experiencing homelessness. Lawyers and elected officials were forcefully attempting to make the case that parks and the appearance of a community were more valuable than the lives of vulnerable and marginalized human beings. In a nation fractured by politics and individualism, there persists a misguided belief that fines, handcuffs, and imprisonment serve as deterrents to homelessness. Yet, tragically, the reality speaks to the improbability of such a notion.

There were many things so I will move on to the numerous positive takeaways.  For the first time in several years, there was this collaboration of advocates who worked on behalf of the unhoused population, those who were once in the population, and those currently working together to speak truth to power.  It wasn’t perfect, of course. We are still making the same mistakes pointed out by Ron Casanova in his book “Each One Teach One.”  We must always make space for people living the experience, not just those with lived experience. I take this critique personally because I had the opportunity to choose speakers.  Although I didn’t make this decision alone, it was a mistake not to lift the voices of those struggling. 

The rally on April 24th brought back a sense of nostalgia for me. The day brought back memories of buddy gray and the people of the Over-the-Rhine beloved community fighting to preserve a neighborhood surrounded by speculators, profiteers, and financial predators. Some people deeply rooted in the late 80s and 90s fights were there: Barb Poppe, Fred Karnas, and Bev Merrill were in the crowd. They know the power of organizing well and its effectiveness when we have had significant victories when we have organized and engaged in direct action.  

Our advocacy during that time brought us victory and stinging defeat.  We won the Cranston Gonzalez Act, The McKinney Vento Act, and the Education for Homeless Children and Youth Act. The losses are also numerous; Over-the-Rhine is no longer a beloved community if you are a gentrifier or partygoer. Every day, we lose a criminalization fight.  City after city resorts to hiding people who experienced homelessness in jails and institutions versus helping them into housing.

 Many longtime residents are long gone, moved to parts unknown, and replaced by fancy eateries and trendy nightclubs. The residents of Over-the-Rhine stopped protesting after the death of our leader, Buddy Gray. The community lost its will on that day. This pattern often happens when movements lose their charismatic leaders, from Dr. King and the civil rights movement to the loss of Mitch Snyder in the homeless movement. The beauty of this movement is that millions of leaders with lived experience can ensure that the Grants Pass demonstration is not a one-off; instead, it can be a harbinger of a new era of resistance. An organized Bring America Home Now Movement!

Written by NCH Executive Director, Donald Whitehead ; Edited by Kenia Mazariegos, Assistant Director of Communications

Over 700 people rallied in front of the U.S. Supreme Court during oral arguments on Monday morning, April 22, 2024. Over 30 communities across the country held solidarity events, and nearly 5000 watched livestreams. The atmosphere was electric. (Read more about the Rally, Photo of Donald Whitehead speaking at the rally by Kevin Wolf, AP)

The case being considered by the court, City of Grants Pass v. Gloria Johnson, addresses the legality of using a blanket to keep warm when forced to sleep outdoors.

Regardless of the court’s decision, this case will not create any housing, nor directly address persistent poverty and homelessness. Rather, this case could set a precedent for municipalities to address homelessness and housing insecurity with ineffective and extreme punitive actions.

The case has sparked a national conversation about the intersection of housing policy, poverty, and civil liberties. Laws that prohibit things like sleeping, laying down or even eating in public spaces, are common, yet they reflect discriminatory practices that have led to deep inequities.

Grants Pass, Oregon, was itself a “Sundown Town” – communities that mostly sprang up during the mid-1800’s, where the movement of non-white residents was restricted after dark. Policies that continued through the 20th Century like Anti-Okie laws, Red-Lining and Jim Crow laws have all been collectively understood to be discriminatory and in violation of U.S. civil rights practices.

Yet as the Supreme Court prepares to hear this Johnson vs. Grants Pass, the situation for Americans forced to live outdoors in an increasingly unaffordable housing market sounds similar to how poor and nonwhite Americans have been treated in past centuries. A recently law in Tennessee has made sleeping outside a felony, and the Florida governor recently signed into law banning sleeping or “camping” in public spaces.

recent study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that ticketing, jailing, and displacing people forced to sleep outdoors can actually lead to significantly higher mortality among folks who are unhoused. Moreover, fines and compounded tickets lead to criminal records for otherwise law-abiding citizens, creating further barriers to getting unhoused Americans back into a home.

“The Johnson vs. Grants Pass case is monumental,” states Donald H. Whitehead, Jr., Executive Director of the National Coalition for the Homeless. “It has the potential to instigate a barrage of draconian policies that cause significant harm to people experiencing homelessness in our country.”

The National Coalition for the Homeless, dedicated to organizing a movement led by those most affected to end homelessness, calls on our communities to invest in proven housing solutions. Hundreds are expected to rally in front of the U.S. Supreme Court building in support of Housing, Not Handcuffs.

Being a member of something is like being a brick in a stone wall – a firm, solid, and supportive piece to the overall structure and integrity. At the National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH), we believe in the strength of unity. We understand the intimate and severely damaging effects homelessness can have on individuals and families struggling to provide basic needs for themselves, all while being marginalized, criticized, and discriminated against.

The lingering aftermath of the global pandemic continues to cast its shadow, with its relentless onslaught having unleashed a surge of homelessness that swept across our communities, stretching the limits of our resources to their breaking point. This strain has left our communities grappling with unprecedented challenges in addressing the escalating needs of the homeless. Every day, individuals experiencing homelessness confront a multitude of battles, where survival is both a blessing for having endured the day and a punishment as they anticipate the trials of the next.

Who is advocating on their behalf? You can! Join us in this fight to protect the lives of those society has cast aside and help us raise awareness of this ongoing issue. We can no longer ignore the cry for help pouring out of every corner of the Nation. It is our duty to protect the unprotected; house the unhoused, and remember those forgotten. We believe housing is a human right. No one should be forced to live outdoors and have to brave the harsh weather conditions, with no more than a blanket, a tent, or a brick wall to protect them. It is imperative that we, as people of the people, hold our elected officials accountable, and knowledgeable of the growing need for resources in their governing areas. We at NCH are dedicated to this mission and invite you to join us in supporting this vital cause.

We greatly value the voice that each of our members brings and all that they contribute. Our Membership allows everyone the opportunity to let their voice truly be heard on what needs to be done to really make effective and long-lasting change. Advocacy is never one person’s job alone. In order to make a mission a movement, there must be a strong wave of individuals and organizations pushing toward the same goal. We strongly believe that with your continued support, we can work together to make America a better country for all its inhabitants.

 

Written by: NCH Membership Coordinator, Tyler Richardson; Edited by Kenia Mazariegos

 

What is Bring America Home NOW (BAHN)? Spearheaded by the National Coalition for the Homeless, Bring America Home NOW (BAHN)  is a Comprehensive Grassroots Campaign to End Homelessness in the United States. Led by people who have lived experiences with homelessness, BAHN focuses on the passage of federal legislation aimed at addressing the interconnected solutions to the decades-long epidemic of homelessness in the U.S.

What Is The Focus? BAHN has 6 major policy pillars that focus our movement’s fight to end homelessness. Each of these pillars have short term and long term policy focuses. As our movement progresses, BAHN will be updating and adding to our political focus areas as we push legislation on a national and local level.

Housing

Housing is a basic human right that should be available to all Americans. 

Health
Health and homelessness are inextricably linked: a safe, stable home is the prerequisite of health and well-being.  Adequate income is essential to maintain housing. To end homelessness, we must ensure livable wages and basic income for all Americans and link income to the local cost of housing.  

Livable Income

Adequate income is essential to maintain housing. To end homelessness, we must ensure livable wages and basic income for all Americans and link income to the local cost of housing.  

Education/Training 

Education and training play a critical role for many children, youth, and adults towards equipping them with the knowledge and skills needed for economic stability.

Civil Rights

Homelessness is a civil rights issue. People experiencing homelessness are too often victims of hate crimes. Homelessness disproportionately impacts people of color and LGBTQ people, who face more discrimination and barriers to jobs and housing than their counterparts. 

Racial Equity 

Homelessness is inextricably linked to systemic racism. Racial equity must be prioritized in our work to end and prevent homelessness.  


Our national partners are advocates from all around the country, sharing insight on state and citywide struggles that heavily influence our national political pillar focuses.  As a movement, we incorporate local struggles into the national discussion as a comprehensive grassroots movement to end homelessness.

Call To Collaborative Action:

We are reaching out to the public and partners to join us in our campaign to end homelessness through a comprehensive, multifaceted push for increased public awareness and successful legislation. We especially seek involvement from organizations led by people who have themselves experienced homelessness.   Sign On: https://p2a.co/v3r4bsh 

What Is the BAHN Campaign Doing To Advance The Mission and Vision of Ending Homelessness?

 

In addition to our six policy focus, the Bring America Home NOW Campaign is advancing its campaign goals by employing direct action and public mobilization strategies that are deep rooted in the civil rights movement. Civil disobedience (peaceful) and impactful. 

 

Bring America Home NOW:  2024-2025 Campaign Direct Actions Needing Your Involvement

Johnson V. Grants Pass (Supreme Court Of The United States Case) 

What?:  SCOTUS Case- Push the Supreme Court of the United States to uphold the right 

When?: Apr 22, 2024

Where?: Nationwide (with focus in DC at the Supreme Court)

Why?:  To push the Supreme Court of the United States to uphold the rights of people forced to live outdoors. “Communities are safer and stronger when everyone is housed.” Crimiali

Partners: National Homelessness Law Center and More 

Links: https://johnsonvgrantspass.com/ .


Take Off The Boards Campaign 

What?: Take Off The Boards 

When?: May 1, 2024(Michael Stoops Day of Action) tentatively 

Where?: Nationwide- At least 50 communities across the nation in blue and red states hold local actions. 

Why?: Get people housed by identifying and using existing vacant buildings. 

Partners: Homeless Union, Homeless Army/PPEHRC

Links: Take Over: The DocumentaryIn-Depth Action Planning Document


National Sleep-Out Campaign 

What?: National Sleep-Out

When?: Week of July 28, 2024

Where?: Nationwide- At least 50 communities across the nation in blue and red states will hold local actions (Mayor office, city hall, state parks…) 

Why?: Independence from unsheltered homelessness. We must  use all McKinney-Vento Funds for people experiencing homelessness now. Move PSH renewals to mainstream Section 8/voucher programs

Partners: BAHN Partners and NCH Members 

Links:https://www.bringamericahomenow.org/ 


National Homeless Army March On Conventions 

What?: March On RNC and DNC Conventions 

When?: RNC Rally July 15, 2024 and DNC Rally August 19, 2024

Where?: Milwaukee, WI and Chicago, IL

Why?: Rallies at Democratic and Republican National Conventions, March between Milwaukee and Chicago to put a spotlight on homelessness crisis in America. 

Partners: Poor People’s Army 

Links:https://www.poorpeoplesarmymarch.com/ 


Election Prep-Scorecard & Get Out The Vote 

What?: Ongoing actions related to 2024 Election

When?: September 2024, Week of September 23, 2024, November 5, 2024

Where?: Nationwide 

Why?: Ensure true representation of the community of people who are marginalized by poverty, race, or homelessness. Publish a scorecard on elected officials actions around ending homelessness. Hold registration events, assist  voters in casting their votes on or before election day. 

Partners: BAHN Partners and NCH Members

Links:https://www.bringamericahomenow.org/ 


National Homelessness Leadership Conference

What?: Leadership Conference 

When?: November 2024, Week between elections and Hunger & Homelessness Memorial Week

Where?: Northern CA, likely San Jose area

Why?: Opportunity to hear from people with lived experience and those experiencing homelessness.Bringing the movement together. We held a conference in DC and now we want to hold an event that will be more accessible to advocates nearer to the West coast.

Partners: Destination Home

Links:Destination Home’s Website


National Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week 

What?: Fundraising Gatherings

When?: November 16-24, 2024

Where?: Nationwide

Why?: Inform community members,advocates and providers about BAHN and that BAHN provides a framework to prevent and end homelessness. 

Partners: BAHN Partners and NCH Members

Links:Hunger & Homelessness Week Website


National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day 

What?: Annual Memorial event

When?: December 21, 2024

Where?: Nationwide (Virtually) 

Why?: To remember people who lost their lives because of homelessness and to put the spotlight on the urgent need to address the broken system that leads to homelessness and death. 

Partners: National Healthcare for the Homeless Council 

Links:NCH Memorial Day Webpage 2020 Video of Names


National March In DC

What?: Mass Demonstration to Bring America Home NOW 

When?: May 2025

Where?: Washington, DC 

Why?: Create impact within the first 100 days of the new administration and Congress by demanding an end to Homelessness. Ensure equity in housing resources for people with limited incomes as homeowners. 

Partners: Homeless Union, Poor People’s Army, BAHN Partners and NCH Members 

Links:https://www.bringamericahomenow.org/ 

Join us in the transformative movement of Bring America Home NOW!

This grassroots campaign is fueled by the belief that together, we can enact real change. By becoming a partner in this vital endeavor, you’ll be joining forces with a community dedicated to making a meaningful difference. Sign up today and stand with us in our mission to Bring America Home NOW. Together, we possess the power to create a brighter future for all. Sign On: https://p2a.co/v3r4bsh 

I am entering my third year in my second tenure as Executive Director of the National Coalition for the Homeless, and I have great optimism. 

My optimism is driven by the reality that the rest of the advocacy world and the federal agencies have finally caught up with NCH’s philosophy of involving people with lived experience at all levels. We have witnessed a transformation at all levels to an imperfect inclusiveness that holds great potential for a more efficient and effective service delivery system.

I am also profoundly moved by the advocacy in local communities to push back against a well-organized and well-funded group of lobbyists traveling the country spreading harmful misinformation using hedge fund dollars. The Cicero Institute is circulating model legislation to force people experiencing homelessness into jails and institutions. Study after study and voluminous research has disproved the theory that incarceration or forced institutionalization has any benefit for people experiencing homelessness. In fact, research on homelessness indicates that incarceration has multiple negative impacts.

Conversely, and as we experience a cold snap across the country, I am confronted with the harsh realities that people experiencing homelessness face daily. The headlines are nearly surreal. 

The headlines in my news feed tell of a serial killer targeting people forced to live outdoors due to unregulated housing increases in Los Angeles. I have visited Skid Row multiple times, leaving with sadness and urgency. 

In the same news feed, a community in Phoenix applauds the raiding of an encampment of 800 people. All 800 had been removed from the community’s safety to only God knows where. In my experience, only a handful are housed at the end of the day, and most are pushed to parts unknown.  

People should be able to live in safe, stable housing, not parks, cars, or abandoned buildings.  

For decades, we have waited for the market to fix our severe lack of affordable housing to no avail. We have begged, pleaded, and educated elected officials to exhaustion. Our mission to end homelessness can sometimes appear intractable.

But homelessness in the United States is not inevitable, or intractable, or hopeless. I fundamentally believe that for a full restoration of justice for marginalized people, we must demand it.  

I believe the time is right for Direct Action. The homeless advocacy movement has been silent since the creation of McKinney Vento. People experiencing homelessness have relinquished leadership to providers, many of whom have compassion and good intentions but are beholden to funders, like HUD. People with lived experience have been exploited, tokenized, and devoid of any genuine voice in their own lives. 

We must organize a force led by people with lived experience that demands housing justice, economic justice, and civil and racial justice.

We often hear nothing for us without us. This is a clever statement but hollow without a demand for this direction. We demand to be creators and not evaluators, and our expertise will be compensated.

This kind of organizing is not new. It has changed the course of history multiple times in multiple places worldwide, from American chattel Slavery to the abolishment of apartheid in South Africa. The intractable has been possible and then invisible.  

I hope in reading this; you are overwhelmed with the fierce urgency of now that not one more person must die in the isolation of the sea of despair called homelessness. I know that many have moved on, not willing to relive the trauma of homelessness. However, we need your voice, your story, your triumph. 

We need people to understand that your situation was not your destiny and that even though life dealt you a bad hand, you were satisfied. We need you to join the Bring America Home Now Campaign. We cannot afford to wait; people are dying everywhere in the richest countries in the world.

Authored by Donald Whitehead, Executive Director of NCH (National Coalition for the Homeless).

 

The Bring America Home NOW campaign, spearheaded by the National Coalition for the Homelessn is excited to announce this forward thinking and youth inclusive partnership with Junior State of America (JSA) as they join to co- spearhead the Youths for Bring America Home NOW campaign. 

Junior State of America’s unwavering commitment to ensure active participation in democracy and learning through various activism  experiences perfectly aligns with NCH and BAHN’s unwavering dedication and commitment to ensuring that youth are on the decision making table not merely as participants; but as equal partners and contributors in our Housing movement and democracy. 

In alignment with JSA’s commitment to students “ setting the tone”, the National Coalition for the Homelessness and the Bring America Home NOW campaign believe that there is no group more powerful than organized and motivated youths standing up  for a cause that is greater than one individual and that requires all of us in unity and collaborative spirit. 

This partnership enables both the National Coalition for the Homeless through the Bring America Home NOW campaign and  Junior State of America to continue providing opportunities for students and youths to collaborate , volunteer, be activist, and “ gain valuable citizenship skills and experience by organizing events, participating in and moderating thought talks and debates, activism initiatives…, ” and running campaigns actions at local,  region, state, and national levels while elevating women’s leadership. 

Junior State of America’s compelling curriculum centered on civic responsibility, media literacy, and women’s leadership, combined with the national platform provided by the Bring America Home NOW campaign is critical to ensure intergenerational working and leadership. 

As I often say, there is no real social or policy change without organized public pressure; especially young people who are the strongest force for any  social justice and structural change movement. 

Francis Kalombo Ngoy

National Director- Bring America Home NOW Campaign 

National Coalition for the Homeless