Executive Summary of the No Address Interactive Study Guide
Pastors, priests, youth directors, chairs of mission committees, and other faith leaders often ask what their congregations can do to help address the homelessness crisis in their respective communities.
The faith community has a long history of leading the way to help people experiencing homelessness. The Salvation Army and some of the Citygate Network rescue missions (formally known as the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions) date back to the 1860s and 1870s. Faith groups took the lead in responding to homelessness from the ramifications of the Civil War, through the economic hardships of the Great Depression, to the recent uncertainties of the Great Recession and the COVID-19 pandemic, and all the decades in between.
In many ways the government is a latecomer to addressing homelessness, only taking up the issue in an official capacity in 1987. That is when Congress passed the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, and President Reagan signed it into law, which formally tasked many federal departments and agencies to work on homelessness issues.
Homelessness has been increasing dramatically in the United States since 2013. This was long before COVID-19, which some mistakenly assume caused a rise in homelessness. For the last decade, the numbers of families with children and adults experiencing homelessness have been skyrocketing in many parts of the United States. Many communities are in crisis, and some have officially declared states of emergency. Nationwide, the issue of homelessness has become the number one or two local political issues in most medium and large cities, and the challenges of homelessness are no longer isolated to our inner cities. Recently, many suburban and rural communities have started to see dramatic increases in homelessness as well.
to the US Department of Education (ED), there are almost 1.5 million children experiencing some type of homelessness within all five ED homelessness categories, while the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) reports nearly 1.2 million adults experiencing homelessness within all five HUD homelessness categories. Taken together, almost 3 million people are experiencing homelessness of some type, and most advocates think the number is significantly higher.
Homelessness has become a crisis because most people fail to understand the interlocking issues of homelessness, untreated mental illness, and addiction, as well as PTSD, domestic violence, and sex trafficking. It is impossible to honestly address and solve homelessness if we do not take into consideration the real root causes of homelessness.
That is the purpose of creating this Interactive Study Guide: to generate a more effective response to homelessness, especially within the community of faith and non-profit agencies, who have historically led the way in this endeavor.
The No Address Interactive Study Guide team has assembled a diverse group of some of the smartest and most thoughtful faith-based public-policy advocates within the homelessness assistance community to create this resource. From the nationwide leaders of The Salvation Army USA and the Citygate Network to local operators of some of the most successful organizations around the nation, we investigate homelessness from all angles. Our contributors range from national policy leaders to local city hall advocates. We have subject-matter experts on families with children experiencing homelessness as well as experts on adult-level homelessness.
You will also hear from people with “lived” homelessness experience, and individuals with family histories of homelessness. From pastors to lay leaders, this is a wonderful gathering of faith-oriented contributors who will lead us through the study of homelessness.
In addition to our fabulous writers, we have Max Lucado and Amy Grant as video contributors, with Myrka Dellanos as our video host.
The No Address Interactive Study Guide starts with an overview of homelessness, including basic terminologies, debunking common myths, overviews of important data, and key strategies. We then take a deep dive into the most important homelessness issues of the day. We end with how congregations and individuals can help to dramatically reduce homelessness. The journey will challenge the thinking about homelessness, and hopefully positively inform volunteers and congregations on how to better help people experiencing homelessness. This effort will literally save lives and improve communities.
Dr. Robert G. Marbut Jr.