The heart and soul of the National Union of the Homeless is to commit our lives to ending homelessness and poverty and to work tirelessly for the human right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, for social and economic justice for all. We dedicate ourselves to raising the awareness of our sisters and brothers, to planning a sustained struggle and to building an organization that can obtain freedom through revolutionary perseverance. We pledge to deepen our personal commitment to end all forms of exploitation, racism, sexism, and abuse. True solidarity demands that we create not only the new society, but also the new human being.
The National Union of the Homeless (NUH) originally formed in the late 1980s and early 1990s in response to shifting economic conditions resulting in mass homelessness of families and former workers across our country. The shelter system that is a central part of the nonprofit industrial complex today formed at this time as well. From the shelters, encampments, and abandoned buildings folks came together to fight, speak out and organize against the very conditions that have made them homeless.
At its height, the National Union of the Homeless (NUH) had 25 local chapters and 35,000 members in cities across the United States. Most importantly, it implemented a model of organizing involving the poor and homeless thinking for themselves, speaking for themselves, fighting for themselves and producing from their ranks capable and creative leaders. This was contrary to the prevailing stereotypes and misconceptions about homelessness. Almost twenty years after the decline of the NUH, its history offers important lessons for building a movement to end poverty today, in the midst of continuing concentration of wealth among a few and expanding poverty for many.
Although the NUH went into decline in the early 1990s, a number of its leaders continued organizing for social and economic human rights. The NUH's mission and methods carried on through other organizations, including the Kairos Center, Poor People's Campaign: A National Call For Moral Revival, the University of the Poor, and many others.
In June 2019 organizers from across the country gathered in Washington DC at the Poor People's Campaign: A National Call For Moral Revival's Moral Congress. At this gathering a group of close to 100 organizers voted to form the Committee to Reestablish the NUH.
In 2020 the National Union of the Homeless was reborn. The revitalized NUH has established multiple locals throughout 11 states, we held our first Officer's Trainer School Fall 2019 and we continue to grow throughout the country as we uphold the slogans, legacy and practices of the original NUH; such as "You Only Get What You Are Organized To Take!," "Homeless Not Helpless!," and "Housing Now Not Death On The Streets!"
The NUH then and now is made up of members currently and formerly experiencing homelessness as well as organizers understanding this is a fight for the survival of all the poor and dispossessed in our nation. The power the NUH is proof that we can speak for ourselves, think for ourselves, and organize together to lead not just ourselves but the nation in changing the very system that continues to create homelessness every day in this country