Our Mission and History

The National Alliance to End Homelessness is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization whose sole purpose is to end homelessness in the United States. We use research and data to find solutions to homelessness; we work with federal and local partners to create a solid base of policy and resources that support those solutions; and then we help communities implement them.

Our strength is that we are an outcome-driven organization. Starting with our name and continuing with how we choose the work we do, allocate staff time, and use our resources, we focus on one thing: ending homelessness.

This mission is what drives us. It is how we measure our impact.

Our History

The Alliance was founded in 1983 by a group of concerned citizens determined to meet the emergency needs of the nation’s then-emerging population of homeless people. By 1987, it was clear that homelessness was not a temporary crisis, but that it had taken root. At that time, the organization turned its attention to more permanent solutions and grew to a national network of over 10,000 providers, public agencies, and private partners.

Today, the Alliance is a leading national voice on the issue of homelessness.

Our Growth

In 2000, the Alliance challenged communities and the nation to develop plans to end homelessness. The federal government and Congress adopted this approach and substantially increased resources to implement it. Key elements of the strategy that have been successfully advanced are:

  • Permanent supportive housing,
  • Rapid re-housing,
  • Systematic collection and use of data,
  • Coordinated assessment and entry,
  • Local systems to end homelessness, and
  • Outcome focused crisis systems.

To advance the adoption of key concepts and these strategies, the Alliance undertakes the following principal activities:

  • Builds knowledge. It uses research and data to discover what works to end homelessness and develop easily accessible knowledge about these solutions.  The Alliance’s research arm, the Homelessness Research Institute (HRI), leads this work.
  • Improves policy. Based upon this knowledge, it educates opinion leaders and policymakers about what works and tries to build strong policy in support of solutions (with emphasis on federal policy).
  • Enhances capacity. To help communities implement solutions, its Center for Capacity Building provides training, technical assistance, and tools to providers and public agencies.

Homelessness began to decline in 2005 and accelerated after the Recession. Between early 2010 and early 2016:

  • The number of people experiencing homelessness at a point-in-time declined 13 percent (from 637,000 to 550,000).
  • Individuals experiencing chronic homelessness declined 27 percent (from 106,100 to 77,500).
  • Veterans experiencing homelessness declined from 65,500 (in 2011) to 39,500 (39.7 percent).
  • Families with children experiencing homelessness declined from 79,400 to 65,000 (18.1 percent).