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If you have ever lived in a large city, it’s likely that you have encountered homeless people on a daily basis. In New York City alone there are over 60,000 homeless people (Basic Facts). Unfortunately, homelessness cannot be solved just by giving change to a person in need that you pass in the street. If you currently live in New York City and want to take action to assist the homeless population, this post will give you some helpful information on how to start.


Since 1981 the Coalition for the Homeless has worked to help NYC’s homeless population. The organization has a number of programs that focus on job training, food assistance, and providing permanent housing. Their Basic Facts page provides some important statistics about NYC’s homeless population. Here are three facts that are worth noting:

  • “In June 2016, there were 60,042 homeless people, including 14,981 homeless families with 23,213 homeless children, sleeping each night in the New York City municipal shelter system. Families comprise just over three-quarters of the homeless shelter population” (Basic Facts).
  • “Over the course of the last City fiscal year (FY 2015), more than 109,000 different homeless men, women, and children slept in the New York City municipal shelter system. This includes over 42,000 different homeless New York City children” (Basic Facts).
  • “The number of homeless New Yorkers sleeping each night in municipal shelters is now 90 percent higher than it was ten years ago” (Basic Facts).

The last fact is particularly eye-opening. It’s a reminder that there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done in order to reduce homelessness in NYC.

Making A Donation

Donating money is the easiest way to help. The Coalition for the Homeless has donation options for individuals and corporations. Some employers participate in the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC). The program allows employees to set up automatic payroll deductions which can then be submitted to organizations like the Coalition for the Homeless.

Volunteering Your Time

If you really want to feel like you are having an impact, you should put in some volunteer hours each week. Here’s a list of various NYC nonprofits where you can volunteer. Volunteering is so important because many nonprofits rely on volunteers in order to function. While it feels good to donate money, you are never sure how your donation is used. With volunteering your time and energy though, you get to see first-hand the positive effect that your work has.

Start Today

The stereotypical image of a homeless person is someone who suffers from a mental illness and does not have the ability to take care of his own needs. Yet in reality, a mother with a young child can also be homeless; maybe they were recently evicted after the mother lost her job. Or a homeless person can be a senior citizen who can no longer afford to live on her own. Unfortunately, there are many people who do not have a place to stay for a variety of different reasons. If you want to start helping the homeless today, here is a list of 35 ways you can do so.