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Housing Resources and Help for the Homeless

Find assistance and connect with organizations that provide support

A homeless encampment sits on a street in Downtown Los Angeles, California
MattGush/Getty Images

An increase in the number of older adults who are becoming homeless has experts and advocates worried.

Without access to consistent care, older adults who don't have a permanent place to stay often experience increases in medical issues and mental health challenges. Many homeless shelters aren't equipped for older people who may not be able to access bunk beds or may need facilities with wheelchair access. And this problem is expected to grow: A 2019 study by university researchers found that the number of people 65 and older who are homeless will nearly triple compared with 2017.

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homeless man holds a house made of brown cardboard
Doreen Nelson contrajo COVID-19 en un refugio.
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Homelessness Among Older Adults 

Find out more about the crisis of the unhoused and how to help: 

“These are human beings who need our compassion, need our support and need the resources to be able to reconnect with community,” says Jeff Olivet, executive director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness. 

He says the need for average people to step up and volunteer to help those unhoused is “huge.”

Here are some organizations that can provide help and assistance, and some ways for others to provide support.

Federal government

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

  • The online feature, Find Shelter, lists shelters, food pantries, health clinics and places to obtain clothing.
  • This HUD web page lists names and contact information for state and local officials who help people experiencing or at risk of homelessness.

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

  • The VA has several programs for veterans and their families dealing with issues related to homelessness. The VA urges former service members who have no place to live or are at risk of homelessness to contact its National Call Center for Homeless Veterans at (877) 4AID-VET (877-424-3838).

National nonprofits

The National Coalition for the Homeless, based in Washington, D.C., works with people who are homeless or have experienced homelessness, as well as activists, advocates, community-based and faith-based service providers, and others committed to ending and preventing homelessness. The coalition has an extensive, state-by-state directory of resources.

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The National Alliance to End Homelessness, based in Washington, D.C., aims to prevent homelessness in the U.S. According to its website, the organization uses “research and data to find solutions to homelessness" while working with federal and local partners to create a base of policy and resources to support and implement solutions.

For a fee, the Alliance offers online classes for service providers through its Center for Learning. Topics include case management during COVID-19, improving street outreach and rapid re-housing.

Woman’s Health Crisis Leads to Homelessness at 59

The National Health Care for the Homeless Council, based in Nashville, Tennessee, works at the nexus of homelessness and health care. Its mission is to build an equitable, high-quality health care system through training, research and advocacy in the movement to end homelessness. The organization brings together health care professionals, medical-respite care providers, advocates and people who have experienced homelessness.

The National Homelessness Law Center, based in Washington, D.C., “seeks to serve as the legal arm of the national movement to end and prevent homelessness” and protect the rights of people experiencing homelessness, according to the group’s website. “We believe that the human rights to adequate housing, health care, food and education lie at the heart of human dignity, and we envision a world where no one has to go without the basics of human survival.”

Roll up your sleeves

If you want to lend a hand, reach out to a nearby charity, food pantry, meal program, shelter or transitional living facility. Organizations often list volunteer opportunities or suggest ways to help on their websites. Some urge donations of gift cards, clothing, socks, toiletries or products such as adult diapers.

Volunteer opportunities range from hosting meals or enrichment programs to donating professional services, such as haircutting. To serve children experiencing homelessness, some nonprofits seek volunteers to help with preschool classes, childcare and field trips.

Consider a donation

Programs such as Friendship Place in Washington, D.C.; Community Housing Advocates, Inc. in Hartford, Connecticut; Artists Helping the Homeless, in Kansas City, Missouri; and Brilliant Corners, headquartered in Los Angeles and San Francisco, are among scores of nonprofits across the U.S. that welcome financial gifts.

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