Picture the Homeless is an organization founded on the principle that in order to end homelessness, people who are homeless must become an organized, effective voice for systemic change. We are a citywide, multiracial, bilingual organization and our membership includes individuals from within the shelter system, as well as those who are unable/unwilling to live within it. Because of chronic poverty and exclusionary housing practices — including predatory lending, red-lining, and overt discrimination — people of color are especially likely to be homeless. According to NYC’s Department of Homeless Services (DHS), 84% of single adults in the city’s shelter system are Black or Latino; for families, the rate rises to a staggering 95%. Women and LGBTQ experience particular vulnerabilities, including higher rates of sexual violence and police profiling.
Our Civil Rights Campaign fights to stop profiling and selective enforcement by the NYPD, situating the issue of homelessness in the bigger picture of racial justice and police reform organizing. At the same time, our Housing Campaign is focused on forcing the city to stop pouring resources into a bloated, institutional, destabilizing shelter system and start creating actual housing for very poor people. We have a track record of winning victories and developing leadership among homeless people to impact policies and systems that affect their lives and our efforts have created space for homeless people, and their agenda, within the broader social justice movement.