The Facts

9, 10, 11, 12

Students build on their understanding about homelessness, seeking to discover the actual facts and statistics about homelessness locally and nationally.

PrintOne 50-Minute Class Period

The learner will:

  • read and interpret text and graphs on several websites about homelessness.
  • identify the many causes of homelessness.
  • gain an accurate picture of the state of homelessness in New York City and elsewhere in the state, country, and world.
  • Display of students' questions about homelessness from the previous lesson
  • Vocabulary chart from last session
  • Markers, additional chart paper
  • Internet-capable computers
  • Student copies of Handout 1: Homelessness--The Facts
  • shelter: temporary housing run by a city or other organization
  • income: the amount of money an individual or family is bringing in through work or other means
  • unemployment rate: the percentage of people who could be working but who do not have jobs
  • affordable housing: apartments or houses that an individual or family has enough money to live in, while still having enough money for food and other essential items 

Have students reflect on their discussion. Did they have some good ideas? What roadblocks do they need to overcome to carry out some of their ideas? What resources will they need? Have them write some of these reflections in a journal.

Exit Activity: On a note card, students record at least one fact about homelessness and commit to sharing it with a friend.



  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Ask students to examine the chart from last session with the group’s questions about homelessness. If it is not already on the chart, add the question: “What are the causes of homelessness?” Conduct a 5-10 minute discussion about what students think are the causes of homelessness. Discuss what obstacles we face insolving the issue.

  2. Tell students that they are going to have time (plan for at least 20-30 minutes) to conduct some Internet research with a partner. The goal is to learn more about the causes of homelessness and to discover some basic facts about how many people are homeless, how big the problem is, and where the issue is greatest. Give students the handout they will use to record their findings, Homelessness – The Facts. and explain how to use it. If necessary, give a mini-lesson on reliable sources on the internet.

  3. Circulate as students work, posing questions, asking what they’re finding, helping them to read the text and graphs, and reminding them to record their findings on the sheet.

  4. Come together as a group to discuss what everyone found. Create a chart entitled “Homelessness – The Facts” and record the new learning. Be sure to ask specifically what they found about homelessness in their area.

  5. Discuss the role of nonprofits in addressing the issue of homelessness. What are some nonprofits doing, and what limits are there to solving the problem? In contrast, discuss the roles of government, businesses, and individuals in creating and solving the problem. Discuss the difference between addressing the cause and helping people find comfort and meeting temporary needs.

  6. Tell students that this kind of knowledge often makes people feel helpless and sad about our society – but there is another way to react: by finding out what we can do. People can come together and work together to make change. Ask students to turn to a partner and discuss what they think can be done to address the issue of homelessness or to make life better for people who are homeless. Then have students share their ideas around the circle/room. Tell the group that in the next lesson they will have a chance to take action on one of the ideas.


Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 03. Names and Types of Organizations within the Civil Society Sector
      1. Benchmark HS.2 Provide an example of an organization (or a service that it contributes) from a list of categories of civil society organizations.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 04. Philanthropy and Geography
      1. Benchmark HS.2 Identify and describe how civil society sector organizations help people nationally and internationally.
    2. Standard PCS 07. Skills of Civic Engagement
      1. Benchmark HS.2 Discuss a public policy issue affecting the common good and demonstrate respect and courtesy for differing opinions.
      2. Benchmark HS.4 Analyze and synthesize information to differentiate fact from opinion based on the investigation of issues related to public policy. Discuss these issues evaluating the effects of individual actions on other people, the rule of law and ethical behavior.
  3. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 01. Needs Assessment
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Identify a need in the school, local community, state, nation, or world.
      2. Benchmark HS.2 Research the need in the school, neighborhood, local community, state, nation, or world.