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Where to volunteer in NYC: Homelessness

Support NYC's homeless by volunteering at these outstanding organizations

The Bowery Mission
More than 50,000 people are homeless in New York right now, and according to Mary Brosnahan, who’s spent 25 years as the director of the Coalition for the Homeless, the problem hasn’t been this bad since the Great Depression. Mayor Bill de Blasio has announced a long-term $41 billion plan to preserve existing affordable housing and build new units in the years to come, but you can support NYC's homeless right now by offering your time or cash to any one of the city's excellent organizations listed in our guide, below. It's time to volunteer, NYC.

Ali Forney Center

One of Bea Arthur’s favorite charities, the Ali Forney Center, places homeless LGBT youth (up to 40 percent of New York’s homeless youngsters are queer-identified) in apartments overseen by on-site counselors throughout the city. The center also has medical care, counseling, education programs and employment assistance. 224 W 35th St between Seventh and Eighth Aves (212-222-3427, aliforneycenter.org). E-mail volunteer@aliforneycenter.org to volunteer.

Bowery Mission

Founded in 1879 on the original Skid Row, this venerable organization aims to transform the lives of homeless people caught in the cycle of poverty. In addition to providing the immediate needs of food, shelter and clothing, the Mission also offers recovery programs and a free medical clinic. 227 Bowery between Rivington and Stanton Sts (212-674-3456, bowery.org). Call 800-871-6347 to volunteer.

Coalition for the Homeless

The coalition hands out baby formula, work uniforms and school supplies, as well as 1,000 emergency meals per night to those in need. It also hosts an eviction-prevention program that awards rent grants to families on the brink of homelessness and a youth sleepaway camp. 129 Fulton St at Nassau St (212-776-2000, coalitionforthehomeless.org). E-mail volunteer@cfthomeless.org to volunteer.

The Doe Fund

This organization assists formerly homeless and incarcerated adults in becoming self-sufficient by helping them find permanent housing and gain skills needed to rejoin the workforce. Volunteers with hiring or professional experience can conduct mock interviews during two-hour sessions, after which you’ll provide feedback over a dinner prepared by the Doe Fund’s Culinary Arts Program participants. Those interested in a more regular commitment can work one-on-one with trainees for two hours per week to help them achieve their GEDs or focus on career development and résumé building. (212-628-5207, doe.org)

Picture the Homeless

Organized by local homeless individuals, Picture the Homeless advocates for affordable housing and civil rights by offering free training in community activism and organization. There are also gratis job-training courses, coffee and computer labs open to all. 2427 Morris Ave between 184th and 188th Sts, Bronx (646-314-6423, picturethehomeless.org). E-mail Sam Miller at sam@picturethehomeless.org to volunteer.

New York City Rescue Mission

As one of the city’s oldest missions, it’s given food, clothing and shelter to Gothamites since 1872. These days, the NYCRM also has training programs to bulk up people’s job skills and experience and is always looking for tutors for adults and children. 90 Lafayette St at White St (212-226-6214). Fill out an application at nycrescue.org/act/volunteer to volunteer.

Women in Need

This agency focuses on New York’s most vulnerable homeless population: families. Regaining stability in their lives can require services beyond those provided by basic shelters, including drug and alcohol treatment programs, child care and domestic-violence counseling. To do your part, organize a group of friends or coworkers to teach a career-skills workshop or work with kids at the after-school program for a day. Solo volunteers should attend one of Women in Need’s monthly informational sessions, at which you can sign up for a three-month stint helping with a variety of tasks. (212-695-4758, women-in-need.org)

Read more about NYC's homeless

New York's Hidden Homeless: Part 1, Angel's story

In the first part of a series commissioned by Susan Sarandon, we spent the day with three of NYC's hidden homeless to spotlight this growing epidemic of everyday New Yorkers ending up without a home.

Read more

New York's Hidden Homeless: Part 2, Shameeka's story

Continuing our series on New York's hidden homeless, we spent a day with Queens native Shameeka Jackson—one of over 50,000 homeless New Yorkers in the city's shelter system. Nearly a third of those in the system work, and Jackson is one of them; she told us about her experience.

Read more

New York's Hidden Homeless: Part 3, Danielle's story

Wrapping up our series on New York's hidden homeless, we spent a day with Far Rockaway, Queens native Danielle Stalluto. Along with her son and daughter, Danielle's family are part of 80 percent of more than 50,000 homeless New Yorkers in the city's shelter system that live with their spouses or children.

Read more


Krishna S
Krishna S

New Yorkers can also volunteer at GMHC, the world's first AIDS service organization, by helping to make a difference in the lives of people living with or affected by HIV and/or AIDS. GMHC has both individual and group volunteering options. To learn more visit, http://www.gmhc.org/volunteer/the-volunteer-center 


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