Picture the Homeless

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Picture the Homeless (PTH) is an American homeless person–led rights organization founded in 1999[1] by Lewis Haggins and Anthony Williams. It focuses on human rights, housing, police violence and other social justice issues. It was housed originally in Judson Memorial Church, which still hosts its Longest Night of the Year memorial event, and was located for a time in El Barrio and 2427 Morris Avenue in the Bronx. It is currently based at 104B E 126th Street in Manhattan.


The group is a nonprofit organization whose goal is to end homelessness. It believes that people who are homeless must become an organized, effective voice for systemic change. PTH attempts to develop leadership among homeless people to impact policies and systems that affect their lives. They also endeavor to create space for them, and their agenda, within the broader social justice movement.[2] They are strong proponents of diverting funds from the New York City Department of Homeless Services out of the shelter system and into community land trusts. To this end, the organization founded a coalition called The New York City Community Land Initiative with The New Economy Project and other groups.[3]

New York Times writer Nikita Stewart in December 2017 described it as "one of the nation's few advocacy organizations founded by homeless people and led by people who are experiencing or have experienced homelessness" and that "the group has made itself a formidable influence on city policy."[1]

In 2011, Picture the Homeless partnered with the Hunter College Center for Community Development to count of vacant buildings and found that the city owned enough buildings to provide housing to all of the homeless. They published the findings in a report titled: Banking on Vacancy.[4][5] In 2018 Picture the Homeless published a report titled "The Business of Homelessness" that examined the ways public policy, non-profits and businesses acted in ways that perpetuated homelessness. [6]


International connections[edit]

In 2009 four members of Picture the Homeless traveled to Budapest, Hungary to meet homeless and other activists, present their work in New York and to mutually exchange experiences. In Budapest, the group was instrumental in founding Hungary’s first homeless-led advocacy group called A Város Mindenkié (The City is For All).[13]


  1. ^ a b Stewart, Nikita, "Born of Homelessness, a Group Takes Stock of Its Policy Victories," The New York Times, 23 December 2017, p. A20.
  2. ^ "Picture the Homeless: About Us".
  3. ^ Brendan O'Oonnor. "The Ungentrifiers: Hiding affordable apartments from a ravenous market." The Awl. July 30th, 2015 http://nyf.org/newsmakers/picture-the-homeless-and-new-economy-project-quoted-in-report-on-community-land-trusts-in-feature-on-the-awl/
  4. ^ Pinto, Nick (27 January 2012). "New York Has More Vacant Buildings and Lots Than It Has Homeless People". Village Voice. Retrieved 29 February 2020.
  5. ^ "Banking on Vacancy Report". 2011. Retrieved 29 February 2020.
  6. ^ "Business of Homelessneess". 2018. Retrieved 29 February 2020.
  7. ^ "Picture the Homeless v. City of New York".
  8. ^ "Protest against NYPD arrests of the homeless".
  9. ^ "a PTH member's editorial on police harassment". Archived from the original on 2010-08-03.
  10. ^ "Housing Not Warehousing Campaign". Archived from the original on 2010-08-03.
  11. ^ "East Harlem Residents, Housing Advocates Rally Outside Vacant Building".
  12. ^ Moynihan, Colin (2009-07-23). "Activists Arrested After Occupying East Harlem Lot". New York Times.
  13. ^ "Homeless in Hungary". The Indypendent.

External links[edit]