10 Best Homeless Charities Making a Notable Impact

There is no single cause or solution to homelessness, but there are several organizations working to make a difference. The following ten nonprofit organizations are using advocacy, policy changes, and community support to help homeless individuals and permanently end homelessness in the United States. Learn more about their missions, programs, and services.

7 minutes read
10 Best Homeless Charities Making a Notable Impact

Homelessness can happen to anyone, regardless of race, religion, or sexual orientation. In the United States, many people wonder how it is still possible that one of the wealthiest countries in the world has so many unhoused and homeless people. Many of those with that question have decided to do something about it. Homeless charities work to end homelessness with shelters, permanent housing, healthcare, social services, and advocacy.

All homeless charities make a difference, but the following 10 nonprofits stand out for their programs, meaningful impact, and new ways of addressing the problem.

1. Healthcare for the Homeless Houston

Mission: “Promote health, hope, and dignity for those affected by homelessness through accessible and comprehensive quality care.”

Healthcare for the Homeless is located in Houston, Texas. This organization focuses on providing access to transportation, medical clinics, dental clinics, HIV prevention, and more. This organization has already impacted thousands of homeless individuals, with over 8,000 clients using these services to attain better healthcare. Since its start in 2010, the number of patient visits has doubled.

Thanks to their Street Outreach & Offsite Services program, Healthcare for the Homeless was chosen by the city of Houston as the lead agency for the “Integrated Care for the Chronically Homeless Initiative.” This program has offered the homeless population in Houston:

  • Permanent supportive housing
  • Integrated behavioral healthcare
  • Employment training

Healthcare for the Homeless does an excellent job of showing how donors can make an impact. Their Donorbox donation page includes impactful images and statistics as well as an engaging fundraising video to share more about their cause.

Example of a homeless charity using Donorbox to fundraise.

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2. Selah Neighborhood Homeless Coalition

Mission: “To ensure these oft-forgotten individuals have access to as much community support and political recognition as possible.”

Selah Neighborhood Homeless Coalition works towards ending homelessness by connecting the homeless with existing services, providing materials, and addressing policy concerns on the local level. By building relationships with the homeless living in encampments in North East LA, they hope to help those in the office better understand their needs.

The charity started in 2017. After noticing what was lacking in the area, the organization began to host weekly programs offering showers, hot meals, case management, hygiene kits, job training, needed clothing, and more.

This organization is dependent on a strong volunteer force that works directly with the homeless and other organizations providing needed services. They also make it easy for donors to give in-kind donations to support the shelter, in addition to an online donation option.

3. Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth

homeless charities

Mission: “To eliminate homelessness among Nevada’s youth.”

Children and young adults experiencing homelessness in the Las Vegas Valley can come to Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth for their needs.

This organization has been around for over 20 years. They have helped children graduate from high school, enroll in college, and start their careers. In the meantime, they provide housing, case managers, access to food, clothing, hygiene kits, and bus passes to get around. They also help with school work, finding IDs, and employment issues.

In 2021, this organization made a political impact by championing Nevada’s state bill AB197, strengthening unaccompanied minors’ access to critical healthcare. They make it easy to donate online through buttons on the homepage and at the top navigation bar.

4. National Alliance to End Homelessness

best homeless charities

Mission: “Committed to preventing and ending homelessness in the United States.”

The National Alliance to End Homelessness is addressing homelessness differently than other organizations.

As a national nonprofit, they work to end homelessness through three different programs. The first is to promote policies to the Executive and Legislative branches to help end homelessness. The second consists of research and writing publications to inform the population and policymakers on the needs of individuals living without homes. Finally, this organization works with cities, counties, states, and other nonprofits around the country to put policies in place.

The National Alliance to End Homelessness does an excellent job of sharing how people can advocate for the homeless population. Their Take Action page shares bills currently being voted on in Congress, along with ways to learn more.

5. Streetwise

best homeless charities

Mission: “To empower those facing homelessness or at risk of homelessness by providing immediate economic and employment opportunities so individuals can work toward self-sufficiency with dignity.”

Anyone who lives in or has visited Chicago has probably run into a Streetwise vendor. Streetwise started in Chicago in 1992 to give homeless individuals dignity with a job instead of a handout. The magazine features stories about homelessness, poverty, injustice, inequality, and life in Chicago. There are over 180,000 magazines sold every year. The people who sell these magazines are self-employed and buy them for $0.90 and sell them for $2 plus tip.

Streetwise has programs to supply meals, emergency, and seasonal clothing, hygiene kits, PPE, pantry items, etc. They also provide support to find housing, healthcare, legal assistance, and emergency support.

Their STEP program provides help searching, finding, and keeping a job. This program is partly funded by the City of Chicago’s Department of Family and Support Services. It works with people living with homelessness and those dealing with the justice system, individuals with disabilities, and veterans.

Streetwise has included a creative way to support the homeless population in Chicago. Their Give a Shirt campaign sells t-shirts designed by local artists. 100% of the profits support Streetwise.

6. Women in Need

best homeless charities

Mission: “Transforms the lives of New York City homeless families by providing holistic solutions of safe housing, critical services, and ground-breaking programs they need to succeed on their own – so these families can regain their independence, and their children can look forward to a brighter future.”

Women dealing with homelessness face several issues, including childcare, domestic abuse, mental health, and substance abuse. Women in Need (Win) runs 14 shelters and over 500 supportive housing units across New York City. The organization’s goal is to move women from homelessness to permanent housing. They do this through transitional and supportive housing units.

  • Transitional housing – Their transitional housing provides safe housing for 4,800 people every night, including 2,700 children. Families in transitional housing stay an average of 14 months.
  • Supportive housing units – Families that move to supportive housing units stay an average of seven years. These families live in their own apartments and pay a reduced fee of 30% of their income.


7. Coalition for the Homeless

Mission: “We believe that affordable housing, sufficient food, and the chance to work for a living wage are fundamental rights in a civilized society. Since our inception in 1981, the Coalition has worked through litigation, public education, and direct services to ensure that these goals are realized.”

Coalition for the Homeless is the nation’s oldest advocacy and direct service organization for the homeless. With 11 frontline programs, their goal is to end homelessness in New York City. These programs include permanent housing, job training, youth programs, advocacy, and more. Some of the programs that stand out include:

  • Youth programs – Camp Homeward Bound allows homeless children to feel like other kids and gives them the chance to step away from the city at a camp in Harriman State Park. Children also have access to a Bound for Success program that provides after-school one-on-one tutoring.
  • Eviction prevention program – Coalition for the Homeless’s eviction prevention program has saved 598 families from becoming homeless by providing one-time rental arrears grants.
  • Emergency mail program – Individuals living with homelessness have trouble finding work and receiving government assistance simply because they do not have a way to receive mail. Coalition for the Homeless provides people with a reliable means to receive critical correspondence.

The organization’s donate page includes several ways to give including, corporate gifts, bequests, planned giving, stocks and security, matching gifts, in-kind gifts, and cryptocurrency.

8. Shelter the Homeless

Mission: “Shelter the Homeless is committed to making homelessness rare, brief, and non-recurring by connecting individuals who are experiencing homelessness with community services that help them achieve housing stability and reach sustainable self-sufficiency.”

Homelessness is not just a problem for major cities like New York and Chicago. Shelter the Homeless was created in 1988 to end homelessness in Utah. This organization supports men, women, and families with four resource centers. The programs help provide programs and services to help these individuals become self-sufficient.

Each of the organization’s Resource Centers provides:

  • A warm place to sleep
  • Case management
  • Housing navigation
  • Medical care
  • Personal storage
  • Laundry
  • Transportation
  • Connections to other community resources

Shelter the Homeless encourages donations by including how the gift can make a difference at each level. Donations as low as $10 pay for one day of meals and snacks for someone. While a donation of $1,175 pays for a day of security staff at a homeless resource center.

An example of one of the best homeless charities using Donorbox to collect donations.

9. Picture the Homeless

Mission: “Picture the Homeless was founded on the principle that homeless people have civil and human rights regardless of our race, creed, color, gender identity, sexual orientation, or economic, disability, or migration status. Picture the Homeless was founded and is led by homeless people. We refuse to accept being neglected, and we demand that our voices and experiences are heard at all levels of decision-making that impact us.”

Picture the Homeless is different from all other nonprofits on this list because of who runs it. Two homeless men founded this organization in response to how they had been treated and the issues they felt had been ignored in New York City. Today, the Board of Directors is run by over 75% currently or formerly homeless individuals.

The goal of this nonprofit is to change people’s views of homelessness and give them a seat at the table. In 2017, Picture the Homeless encouraged the city to return the vacant city-owned property to community control through land trusts instead of selling it to for-profit housing developers. The result of this move may result in affordable housing for all.

Picture the Homeless is an entirely member-run organization. Membership fees are $10, but those who cannot afford it can use food stamps to purchase snacks that pay for their membership.

10. Chicago Coalition for the Homeless

charity for homeless

Mission: “We organize and advocate to prevent and end homelessness because we believe housing is a human right in a just society.”

Chicago Coalition for the Homeless is the only non-profit in Illinois dedicated to advocating for public policies that can end homelessness. This nonprofit focuses on strategic campaigns, community outreach, and public policy changes that target the lack of affordable housing in metropolitan Chicago and across Illinois. They also work to improve access to public schools, supporter services, health care, and job opportunities.

This nonprofit has developed three programs to address these issues.

  • Community organizing – Through this program, they educate the homeless population on the currently available options.
  • Advocacy and public policy – This program preserves the shelter and public benefits safety net and develops affordable housing. Through their advocacy efforts, they have advocated for better access to public schools for homeless children.
  • The law project – Finally, this nonprofit’s law project is the only legal aid program in Illinois solely to serve homeless or at-risk people.

Final Thoughts

Each of these organizations has chosen to address the issue in various ways. But they all have the similar goal of permanently ending homelessness. Whether homeless individuals run the organization or not, each has worked to connect with the homeless population, provide emergency services, and advocate to change the laws that affect them.

If your nonprofit is working towards ending homelessness, Donorbox wants to support the work you do too. Our affordable services allow nonprofits to accept online donations, run membership campaigns, encourage peer-to-peer or crowdfunding initiatives, sell event tickets, and manage donors in the best way possible. Visit our website to learn more about our features. Donorbox also offers a premium service including high-end fundraising and analytics tools and dedicated coaching to help nonprofits unleash their donation potential.

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Kristine Ensor is a freelance writer with over a decade of experience working with local and international nonprofits. As a nonprofit professional she has specialized in fundraising, marketing, event planning, volunteer management, and board development.

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