What We Do

Homelessness & Poverty in America

“Homelessness is not like a disease that we just don’t have a remedy for. It comes down to mustering the sufficient political will and finding the additional resources to solve the problem.”
Maria Foscarinis

“Homelessness is not a partisan issue. We all care about it and need to work across party lines to solve it.”
Rep. Judy Biggert, McKinney-Vento, 25th Anniversary Event, July 2012

Rep. Judy Biggert receiving the 2008 Bruce F. Vento Award from the Law Center

Hook: While the United States is the wealthiest country in the world, more than 3.5 million Americans, including 1.6 million children, are homeless each year.  Safe, affordable housing is fundamental to a person’s well-being and is widely recognized as a basic human right in international law.  Even our own country, in the 1949 Housing Act, proclaimed a goal of a decent home for every family.  Yet we have much left to do to make that a reality.

The Law Center works for systemic reform that addresses the root causes of homelessness for the 3.5 million people who experience it annually.  We strive to place homelessness in the larger context of poverty, viewing it as a highly visible manifestation of deeper causes, including a shortage of affordable housing, insufficient income, and inadequate social services.

The Law Center works with government and advocates at the national, state, and local levels.

Recent accomplishments include:
  • Helping to draft and pass the first-ever Homeless Bill of Rights in Rhode Island;
  • Successfully advocating for the first-ever Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and Homelessness, which provides a blueprint for ending homelessness;
  • Successfully advocating for Searching for a Solutions, a report by the U.S. Department of Justice and Interagency Council that condemns the criminalization of homelessness and promotes constructive alternatives—drawing heavily on work by the Law Center;
  • Helping to pass, and later extend, the Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act, which allows renters to remain in their home until the end of their lease when a building’s own is foreclosed on—preventing eviction and homelessness for thousands of low-income Americans; and
  • Getting the U.S. to acknowledge, for the first-time in history, that it has an obligation to address homelessness as a human rights issue.