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December 21

At any given time today in America, there are about half a million people who are "homeless" -- they don't have a “permanent, safe, decent, affordable place to live.” Around the world there are about 100 million homeless people, and many of them are women and children.

Homelessness is one of the world's most serious problems. While there are many reasons why people become homeless, including mental illness, drugs and domestic violence, most people are homeless because they can't afford a decent place to live. Far too many people have lost their homes due to foreclosure and housing costs are proportionately much higher than they have been in the past, but wages for lower skilled workers have remained stable and many urban areas continue to be economically depressed. One third of the homeless in America are families!

Homeless shelters and emergency shelters, operated by nonprofit organizations, religious institutions, and local municipalities, can only provide shelter for a fraction of the homeless families in need. Many are forced to live out of their cars, or in garages, or move from place to place, staying with friends and relatives. Even short periods of homelessness can result in depression and child neglect, but many families are homeless for months or even years.

In order to end homelessness, we have to help those who are homeless find immediate shelter, and affordable housing for the long-term. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted by the members of the United Nations in 1948, declares that shelter is a basic human right that all are entitled to. Our economic system needs to change in order to do a better job of ensuring that everyone hasa chance to find affordable, decent and stable housing.

Every year since 1990, the National Coalition for the Homeless sponsors National Homeless Persons' Memorial Day around December 21 -- the first day of winter and the longest night of the year -- to help raise awareness about the growing problem of homelessness in America. This day is an opportunity for you to speak to your family, friends, and community about the many causes and solutions to homelessness. It's a time you can have a food or clothing drive or volunteer your time in a soup kitchen or homeless shelter. It's a chance to write to local, state and national leaders to advocate for policies and programs that serve the homeless and create more affordable housing.

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DO ONE THING for a Better World

1. Find out more about the global homelessness crisis

2. Support organizations advocating for affordable housing and working to end homelessness

3. Volunteer regularly at a soup kitchen or food pantry and help organize food drives

4. Organize or participate in a community service or awareness-building event or activity on End Homelessness Day

5. Get Inspired: Read and share the story, Florence The Goose by Dr. Paul Lee


National Homeless Persons' Memorial Day

Beyond Shelter - Ending Homelessness
Changing The Present: Homelessness
Florence The Goose
Help USA
Homeless International
National Alliance To End Homelessness
National Coalition for the Homeless
National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty
Shelter Network
Solutions for America: Preventing Homelessness
United Nations Human Settlements Programme




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no celebrtiy endorsement implied

End Homelessness Day

Maya Angelou

Ralph Bunche

Sheryl Crow

Mohandas Gandhi

Bernie Glassman

Teri Hatcher

Dustin Hoffman

Thomas Jefferson


Dennis Kucinich

Susan Sarandon

Amartya Sen

Neil Young

Howard Zinn

Front Cover

HEROPIX for a Better World
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Ralph Bunche

Dorothy Day

Dennis Kucinich

Amartya Sen


Do One Thing Calendar

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Kids | Youth | Adults | Calendar | Quotes | Heroes | Stories | The EMILY Fund | Scholarships
DO ONE THING and BetterWorld Kids Clubs are projects of The EMILY Fund (The Emily Silverstein Fund, Inc.)
Hero portraits are included for illustration purposes only - no celebrity endorsement implied

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