Pathfinder Repository


Resources for Housing Activists and Policymakers

This Pathfinder is no longer being actively maintained by ipl.

Who are “housing activists”?

Housing activists are people who are seeking progressive solutions to housing problems at the local, state, or national level. This includes people involved in organizing, advocating, or lobbying for:

  • the creation of more low-income housing
  • ending homelessness
  • protecting the civil rights of homeless people
  • ensuring fair housing for everyone
  • improving conditions in public housing and other subsidized housing developments
  • protecting and expanding tenants’ rights

Who are “policymakers”?

These are elected public officials and people who work for government agencies or non-profit organizations that influence housing decisions at national, state, and local levels.

What type of information will you find using this guide?

This guide leads you to authoritative, reputable sources of current housing information. It lists housing organizations that track current news, research, policies, and legislation; provides links to organization Web sites where available; points you to sources for up-to-date statistical information about housing and homelessness, as well as listservs and discussion forums where you can stay in touch with other activists and policy makers; provides strategies for finding print resources, such as books and journal articles. Here you will find:


Locate other organizations, using the reference book Encyclopedia of Associations or the electronic version of this called Associations Unlimited , either of which are available through most public libraries. Search by Subject or Subject Descriptors: housing, homeless Select Module: National (for the electronic version)

Low-income Housing Organizations

ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now)
ACORN has offices all over the country. For contact information, go to the home page and click on “Contact Us”. Housing is a part of ACORN’s platform, including: “Create more housing for low and moderate income people… Prevent the displacement of low and moderate income people from their homes… Provide protection for tenants… Clean up public housing”.
Site includes: information about the organization and its platform.

The Enterprise Foundation

10227 Wincopin Circle, Suite 500, Columbia, MD 21044. Phone: (410) 964-1230. Fax: (410) 964-1918. E-mail: mail@enterprisefoundation.org
A national, nonprofit housing and community development organization dedicated to bringing lasting improvements to distressed communities and seeing that all low-income people in the U.S. have the opportunity for fit and affordable housing and to move up and out of poverty into the mainstream of American life.
Site includes: “timely information about Congressional and Administration actions”, archive of back issues of organization’s print magazines.

Housing Assistance Council (HAC)

1025 Vermont Ave., NW, Suite 606, Washington, D.C. 20005. Phone: 202-842-8600. Fax: 202-347-3441. E-mail: hac@ruralhome.org
A “national nonprofit corporation created to increase the availability of decent and affordable housing for low-income people in rural areas throughout the United States… provides many services for local, state, and national organizations including loans, publications, technical assistance, training, and special projects.”
Site includes: information about the organization and its activities, a bi-weekly newsletter HAC News, and current news.

National Housing Institute

439 Main Street Suite 311, Orange, NJ 07050. Phone: 973-678-9060. Fax: 973-678-8437. E-mail: hs@nhi.org
An independent nonprofit organization that examines the key issues affecting affordable housing and community development practitioners and their supporters, including housing, jobs, safety, and education, with an emphasis on housing and economic development, as well as poverty and racism, disinvestment and lack of employment, and breakdown of the social fabric.
Site includes: archive of back issues of Shelterforce
magazine, NHI Research and Reports, Jobs, and other resources.

The National Housing Trust

1101 30th St. N.W., Suite 400, Washington, D.C., 20007. Phone: (202) 333-8931. Fax: (202) 833-1031. E-mail: info@nhtinc.org
“(N)ational nonprofit organization formed to preserve and improve federally assisted housing for low and moderate income use. The Trust’s emphasis is on preserving federally assisted and insured properties at risk of conversion to market rate housing and resolving the problems of “troubled” projects that suffer from physical deterioration and financial and social distress.”
Site includes: information about public policy and about the organization, as well as a fee-based database that lists, by name and address of project, all FHA assisted and insured expiring Section 8 contracts.

National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC)

1012 Fourteenth Street NW, Suite 610, Washington, D.C. 20005. Phone: 202-662-1530. Fax: 202-393-1973. E-mail: info@nlihc.org
A national organization dedicated to ending America’s affordable housing crisis. It is committed to educating, organizing, and advocating to ensure decent, affordable housing within healthy neighborhoods for everyone. NLIHC provides up-to-date information, formulates policy, and educates the public on housing needs and strategies for solutions.
Site includes: Current Press Releases/Alerts; NLIHC Publications; State Coalition Directory, and Other Resources.

Homelessness Organizations

Commission on Homelessness and Poverty, American Bar Association
740 Fifteenth Street, NW, Washington, DC 20005-1022. Phone: 202-662-1694. Email: homeless@abanet.org
A 13-member Commission of attorneys and lay people created in 1991, devoted to fostering the development of legal pro bono homeless programs and to educating the profession and public to the legal problems of the very poor. The Commission works with the ABA and through its many entities to develop policy and resources that will enhance pro bono efforts.
Site includes: “ABA policy recommendations concerning homelessness and poverty”, products and publications, and information about the John J. Curtin, Jr. Justice Fund Legal Internship Program.

Community for Creative Non-Violence (CCNV)
425 2nd St. NW, Washington, DC 20001. Phone: 202-393-1909. Fax: 202-783-3254. E-Mail: ccnv@erols.com
Works to combat homelessness and poverty in the U.S.; advocates for federal legislation relevant to the homeless; sponsors and participates in public demonstrations protesting homelessness; operates Federal City Shelter in Washington, DC.
Site includes: Information about the organization, volunteer and intern opportunities, and political actions.

National Alliance to End Homelessness
1518 K St, NW, Ste. 206, Washington, DC, 20005. Phone: 202-638-1526. E-mail: naeh@naeh.org
A nonprofit membership organization dedicated to mobilizing all sectors of society in an alliance to solve the problems of homelessness and to prevent its continued growth.
Site includes: background and statistics on homelessness, policy and legislation information, and publications.

National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH)

1012 Fourteenth Street, NW, Suite #600, Washington, DC 20005-3410. E-mail: nch@ari.net
Engages in public education, policy advocacy, and grassroots organizing in order to end homelessness.
Site includes: Projects, Alerts, Facts About Homelessness, Legislation and Policy, Online Library, Safety Network, Upcoming Events, and NCH Publications.

National Health Care for the Homeless Council, Inc. (NHCHC), HCH Clinicians’ Network

P.O. Box 60427, Nashville, TN 37206-0427. Phone: 615-226-2292. Fax: 615-226-1656 Email: council@nhchc.org
A membership organization of health care providers working with homeless people across the U.S. and helping to bring about reform of the health care system to best serve the needs of homeless people. The Council works in alliance with others whose broader purpose is to eliminate homelessness and provide support to National Council members.
Site includes: online versions of publications; papers on public policy, legislative, and health care, and other issues related to homelessness; success stories of people who have been helped by NHCHC.

The National Law Center on Homelessness &Poverty

1411 K Street NW, Suite 1400, Washington, DC 20005. Phone: (202) 638-2535. Fax: (202) 628-2737. E-mail: nlchp@nlchp.org
Advocates to protect the rights of homeless people and to implement solutions to end homelessness in America. Pursues three main strategies: impact litigation, policy advocacy, and public education.
Site includes: Information about selected legal rights of homeless persons, education of homeless children, recent legal developments, civil rights of homeless people, recent legislative developments, and news.

National Resource Center on Homelessness and Mental Illness, Policy Research Associates, Inc

262 Delaware Avenue, Delmar, NY 12054. Phone: 800-444-7415. Fax: 518-439-7612. E-mail: nrc@prainc.com
Provides technical assistance, identifies and synthesizes knowledge, and disseminates information.
Site includes: referral lists, annotated bibliographies, and papers written by experts on topics not adequately addressed in the literature which are relevant to homelessness, special needs housing, and mental illness.

National Union for the Homeless (NUH), 526 W Girard Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19123-1429. Phone: 215-923-1694. Fax: 215-923-5960.
Local chapters representing 30,000 individuals; seeks to guarantee shelter and provide other assistance to homeless people in the U.S.

Directories of national, state, and local homeless organizations are located at


For more homelessness resources see also:
Welfare Reform and Housing http://www.welfareinfo.org/housing.asp
Homelessness http://www.welfareinfo.org/homeless.asp, of the Welfare Information Network.

These sources include: federal and multi-state homeless programs, state specific initiatives, organizational links, and publications related to homelessness.

Fair Housing Organizations

Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law

1101 15th Street, NW, Suite 1212, Washington, DC 20005-5002. Phone: 202-467-5730. Fax: 202-223-0409. TDD: 202-467-4232. E-mail: bazelon@nicom.com
Nonprofit legal advocacy organization based in Washington D.C., based on the principle that every individual is entitled to choice and dignity. For many people with mental disabilities, this means something as basic as having a decent place to live, supportive services and equality of opportunity.

  • Access to Housing at http://www.bazelon.org/housing.html http://www.bazelon.org/housing.html
    Includes legislative updates, articles, current news, and information about fair housing for people with mental disabilities.

The Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities

1730 K Street, NW, Suite 1212, Washington, DC 20006. Phone: 202-785-3388. Fax: 202-467-4179. Email: Info@c-c-d.org
Coalition of about 100 national disability organizations working together to advocate for national public policy that ensures the self determination, independence, empowerment, integration and inclusion of children and adults with disabilities in all aspects of society.

Fair Housing Institute

Private company working as consultants to educating the housing industry around areas of fair housing and equal opportunity. Phone: 770-840-7005

National Fair Housing Advocate Online, Tennessee Fair Housing Council

719 Thompson Lane, Suite 200, Nashville, TN 37206. Phone: 800-254-2166.
A resource designed to serve both the fair housing advocacy community and the general public with timely news and information regarding the issues of housing discrimination.
Site includes: statutory material, searchable case database, links to local fair housing centers by state, and the complete text of the National Fair Housing Advocate print newsletter from March 1995 to present.

National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA)

1212 New York Avenue, N.W., Suite 525, Washington, D.C. 20005. Phone: 202) 898-1661. TTY 202-898-2735, FAX (202) 371-9744.

A consortium of private, non-profit fair housing organizations from throughout the U.S., promotes equal housing, lending and insurance opportunities through education, enforcement, training, and research.
Site includes: organization’s mission, programs, and services.

National Home of Your Own Alliance, Institute on Disability

University of New Hampshire, 7 Leavitt Lane, Suite 101, Durham NH 03824-3522. Phone: 1-800-220-8770. TDD: 1-603-862-4320. Fax: 603-862-0555. E-mail: drv@hopper.unh.edu
Funded by the Administration on Developmental Disabilities to promote opportunities for people with disabilities to own and control their homes.
Site includes: “FannieMae: A Home Of Your Own Guide”, Publications, Relevant Policy Issues, State Coalitions, and Funding Sources.

Tenants’ Rights Organizations

Coalition for Economic Survival (CES),

514 Shatto Place, Suite 270, Los Angeles, CA 90020. Phone: 213-252-4411. E-Mail: contactces@earthlink.net
Addresses the economic concerns of senior citizens and low-income families, especially issues dealing with rent control, tenants’ rights, and affordable housing.

National Housing Law Project (NHLP), 614 Grand Ave., Ste. 306, Oakland, CA 94610-3523. Phone: 510-251-9400. Fax: 510-251-0600.
Provides back-up assistance, including research and litigation, to local legal services programs in areas of housing law.


Email: tenant@tenant.net
Landlord-tenant laws vary by state. This site focuses on New York City and New York State, but you can get to information about other cities and states by using the “Other States and areas” search box on the home page.

Public Policy Organizations

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

820 First Street, NE, Suite 510, Washington, DC 20002. Phone: 202-408-1080. Fax: 202-408-1056. E-mail: bazie@cbpp.org
Works on fiscal policy issues and issues affecting low- and moderate-income families and individuals. Specializes in research and analysis oriented toward policy decisions at both federal and state levels. Examines data and research findings and produces analyses that are accessible to public officials, other non-profit organizations, and the media.
Site includes: Click on “Low-Income Housing” in the box on the right side of the page for a list of links to the full-text of many CBPP publications that analyze housing policy and legislation.

National American Indian Housing Council (NAIHC)
900 2nd St. NE, Ste. 305, Washington, DC 20002. Phone: 202-789-1754. Fax: 202-789-1758. Toll-Free: 800-284-9165. E-Mail: housing@naihc.net
“A National membership organization that promotes, supports, and upholds tribes and tribal housing agencies in their efforts to provide culturally-relevant, decent, safe, sanitary, and affordable housing for native people in American Indian communities and Alaskan native villages.”
Site includes: Information about NAIHC, Legislative News, and Indian Housing Research and Resources.

Social Legislation Information Service (SLIS), 440 1st St. NW, Ste. 310, Washington, DC 20001. Phone: 202-638-2952. Fax: 202-638-4004
A division of the Child Welfare League of America; reports on federal social legislation and activities in health, education, welfare, housing, and employment; takes no position for or against legislation.

Government Departments:

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)

200 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, DC, 20201. Phone: 202-619-0257 or 1-877-696-6775. E-mail: ASPEINFO@OSASPE.DHHS.GOV
Site includes: Profile of Homelessness in America, HHS Homelessness Resources, HHS Homelessness Related Publications, and Homelessness Links.

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

451 7th Street SW, Washington, DC 20410. Phone: 202-401-0388. TTY: 202-708-1455. E-mail: (See http://www.hud.gov/assist/contactus.cfm for e-mail addresses.)
HUD is “the Federal agency responsible for national policy and programs that address America’s housing needs, that improve and develop the Nation’s communities, and enforce fair housing laws.”
Site includes: Information about Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), Section 8, public housing, homeless assistance, HOME Investment Partnership Act block grants, fair housing public education and enforcement, and mortgage and loan insurance through the Federal Housing Administration. Also policy and legislative updates.

U.S. Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity

Enforces the Fair Housing Act and other civil rights laws to ensure the right of equal housing opportunity and free and fair housing choice without discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability or family composition.
Site includes: Information about the Fair Housing Act, fair lending, and accessibility.

Housing Statistics:

Return to List

Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University.

Phone: 617-495-7908.
Analyzes how housing policy and practices are shaped by economic and demographic trends and provides leaders in government, business and the non-profit sector with knowledge and tools for formulating effective policies and strategies. Site includes: publications, including the Joint Center’s annual “The State of the Nation’s Housing”, and information about Housing Review, the Joint Center’s biannual newsletter produced in the spring and fall.

National Alliance to End Homelessness
http://www.naeh.org/ (see Organizations above for contact information and summary.)
Gives background and statistical information on homelessness.

National Low-Income Housing Coalition

A comprensive guide to housing costs and wage data by states, counties, towns, metropolitan statistical areas, or combined non-metro areas. Includes: fair market rents, housing wages (the amount a worker would have to earn per hour in order to be able to work 40 hours per week and afford a two-bedroom unit at the area’s fair market rent), and estimated renter household incomes.

“Out of Reach: The Gap Between Housing Costs and Income of Poor People in the United States”

By Cushing N. Dolbeare, Founder and Chair Emeritus, National Low Income Housing Coalition.

U.S. Census Bureau Housing Topics

http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/housing.html, including: American Housing Survey Data, Homeownership Data, Housing Affordability, and Historical Tables from the Housing Censuses.

For more statistical information, see also Government Departments above.


Affordable Housing Policy and Welfare Reform Listserv

to facilitate the exchange of information on the nexus of housing and welfare policy among housing and welfare professionals, researchers and policy analysts, policymakers, and foundation representatives.


invites people with an interest in the subject of homelessness to participate, including people who are currently or formerly homeless, people who are currently “homed”, shelter and service providers, people who live in shelters and public housing developments, people who work in state and federal agencies, and many others who share an interest in homelessness.

Homeless People’s Network Discussion List

for homeless and formerly homeless people, spanning three continents and a range of worldviews and backgrounds.


to keep professionals in the fields of housing and community development abreast of new research and resources available from HUD’s Office of Policy Development and Research.

Message Boards:

HUD Message Boards
A number of discussion rooms in which you can talk about public policies affecting the whole country or just about things that are going on in your neighborhood.

National Fair Housing Advocate Online (NFHAO)
http://www.fairhousing.com/discuss/index.htm#Message Boards
Dedicated to issues surrounding fair housing. You will find people from private fair housing groups, government agencies, citizens, the housing industry, and other sectors discussing what works and doesn’t work in the fight to end housing discrimination.

Strategies for Finding Print Resources:


Van Vliet , Willem, Ed., The Encyclopedia of Housing. Sage Publications, 1998.
Contains long entries and many specialized essays on topics about which information is not readily accessible. Containing more than 500 entries written by almost 250 scholars, government officials, and housing professionals, this work is aimed at the general public, students, and professionals. Entries cover federal legislation, policy, and programs (Home Mortgage Disclosure Act, Model Cities Program); types of housing (congregate housing; pueblos; slaves, housing of); social and health issues (acquired immune deficiency syndrome, dementia); and a host of other related topics, including: commuting, eviction, fixed-rate mortgage loan, housing starts, redlining, and sweat equity.

Periodical and Journal Databases:

“Wilson Select” and “Social Sciences Abstracts” are good databases for finding housing articles. Search for these keywords/subjects: affordable housing, fair housing, homeless policy, housing discrimination

Library of Congress Subject Headings:

  • Discrimination in housing—United States
  • Fair Housing Act
  • Handicapped—Housing—United States
  • Homelessness—Government policy—United States
  • Housing, Rural—United States
  • Housing subsidies—United States
  • Housing—United States—History
  • Minorities—Housing—United States
  • Poor—Housing—United States
  • Public housing—United States
  • Rental housing—United States
  • Urban poor—Housing—United States


  • Children’s Defense Fund (U.S.), Welfare to what : early findings on family hardship and well-being.
    Washington, DC : National Coalition for the Homelessness, 1998.
  • Herman, Daniel B. and Susser, Ezra S., Eds., Homelessness in America: a collection of articles from the American journal of public health.
    Washington, D.C.: American Public Health Association, 1998.
  • Molotch, Harvey, “Rhetoric, recision, and reaction: the development of homelessness policy,” in Lo, Clarence Y.H. and Schwartz, Michael, Eds., Social policy and the conservative agenda. Malden, Massachusetts: Blackwell, 1998.
  • Rivera, Felix G. and Erlich, John L., Eds., Community organizing in a diverse society, 3rd ed. Boston: Allyn &Bacon, 1998.
  • Rochefort, David A. From poorhouses to homelessness : policy analysis and mental health care, 2nd ed. Westport, Conn.: Auburn House, 1997.


  • Journal of Housing and Community Development, Washington, D.C.: National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials. ISSN: 0272-7374, Bimonthly.
  • Journal of Urban Affairs, Blacksburg, Va.: Division of Environment and Urban Systems, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. ISSN: 0735-2166. Quarterly.

Contact Organizations listed above for information about other published materials.

This pathfinder was created by Jeri Schneider.