World Homeless Day: 5 Ways To Take Action

10/10/2012 02:16 pm ET | Updated Oct 10, 2012

On World Homeless Day, advocates focus on the estimated 100 million people around the globe who live without a roof over their heads, yet are so easily overlooked by passersby.

In the United States alone, the homeless population dropped by 1 percent from 2009 to 2011, to 636,017 living without shelter, according to the National Alliance to Help Homelessness. While the decrease is heartening, the issue remains an epidemic that requires the intervention of both nonprofit and government programs.

To help shed light on the sheer number of people living on the streets, while also bringing down these figures even further, consider taking action to improve the lives of those in need on World Homeless Day.

Bring Comfort To Homeless Kids
To offer homeless children the comforts every young kid deserves before going to bed, Project Night Night fills up totes with a cozy blanket, a children's book and a stuffed animal. The 25,000 care packages the nonprofit doles out each year aim to ease the psychological trauma homeless kids suffer, while also promoting reading and family bonding. Find out how you can get involved with Project Night Night here.

Feed Homeless Pets
An estimated 5 to 10 percent of homeless people have cats or dogs, which many rely on for companionship and protection. To help those who are struggling to find shelter and food for themselves, and their furry best friends, consider getting involved with Pets of the Homeless. This nonprofit brings pet food and veterinary care to those in need. Find out how you can pitch in or make a monetary donation here.

Help Homeless Vets
In its continued effort to end veteran homelessness by 2015, the Department of Veteran Affairs pledged $100 million in grants in July to local organizations that aid low-income veterans and their families nationwide. One such nonprofit that’s helping to empower former servicemen and servicewomen is U.S. Vets, an organization that in the course of one year, helps 3,000 veterans find housing and over 1,000 veterans obtain full-time employment. Find out how you can get involved with U.S. Vets here.

Give Homeless People A Voice
To put a face to the plight of the homeless in this country, video blog Invisible People documents the day-to-day struggles that come with living without shelter. Founder Mark Horvath, who once lived on the streets of California, aims to use his storytelling platform to make homeless people visible and inspire advocates to take action. Find out how you can get involved here.

Get The Government Involved
The National Coalition for the Homeless provides advocacy programs and pushes public policy initiatives with the goal of ending homelessness and protecting homeless people’s rights. The organization's main policy focus is its Bring America Home Act, which would serve as the federal government’s first comprehensive response to causes and consequences of homelessness. Learn how to get involved here.

Click through the slideshow below to find out which cities are the most charitable.

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