TITLE: The National Coalition of the Homeless

ACCESS: http://nch.ari.net/

The National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH) is a political advocacy organization committed to ending homelessness. The homeless or formerly homeless are active in all levels of the organization and make up 20% of the board members. Other board members include service providers, academics, and organizers.

This web site is designed primarily to educate the public about homelessness and to rally support for related legislative and policy issues. In the process, it also provides a wealth of information and resources for undergraduates, graduate students, and other researchers, albeit generally within the framework of the cause. In addition, the site links to other Internet resources on homelessness and poverty.

As part of its public education effort, NCH provides information to thousands of people each year, including practitioners, community groups, researchers, government staff, the general public, and the media. The Homelessness Information Exchange (HIE), the NCH national clearinghouse of information about homelessness and public policy, maintains a comprehensive database of research from which staff members answer questions for the public and compile reports. The HIE also publishes an annotated bibliography on homelessness annually. A complete list of NCH publications, prices, and ordering information is included.

The HIE also produces handy factsheets, which are available fulltext at this site. These summarize issues related to various aspects of the homeless, such as healthcare, joblessness, chemical dependency, mental illness, domestic violence, children, and education. Each factsheet also contains relevant policy issues and an extensive bibliography for further research. In addition, the NCH newsletter, Safety Network, highlights new reports and research from a variety of sources, an annotated list of which is also available at this site.

Current legislative and policy issues relating to homelessness are presented and the status on them updated regularly. Of course, all along there are opportunities to become involved either by providing information and contributions or becoming politically active in a variety of ways. NCH operates on individual contributions and receives no public monies.

Several interesting political and educational projects and ways to become involved are also highlighted at this site. Through the Street Newspaper Project, NCH is creating a network of street newspapers written, produced, and/or distributed by homeless people. The Art and Literature Project features a collection of poetry, essays, and art produced by homeless people. Other projects include voter registration for homeless people and efforts to increase awareness about the educational rights of children.

This site is attractive, current, and well-tended. Although there is no searching feature, it is easy to browse because it is brief and well-organized. It is primarily text-oriented which will appeal to Lynx users and those in a hurry. But NCH is also developing a multi-media component to help personalize the homelessness issue. Homeless Voices features the pictures and voices of half a dozen homeless persons who share their experiences in the Washington D.C. area. These conversations are also, thankfully, available in text format, as the sound quality is crude and the files very time-consuming to load.

For information on homelessness, poverty, and the related politics, this site cannot be missed.

Barbara Valentine
Reference and Systems Librarian
Linfield College
McMinnville, OR

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