The movement to end homelessness has a lost a giant. Almost two years after suffering a severe stroke, Michael Stoops passed away on May 1. He was 67. Michael was the director of organizing at the National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH), a national advocacy organization that he co-founded in 1982. Michael’s legacy is enormous. He played an essential role in the passage of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act in 1987, a law that remains the largest federal response to homelessness through the services and programs it established, and in launching a nationwide network of street newspapers. Michael developed the “You Don’t Need a Home to Vote Campaign” that won state legislative changes nationwide to ensure that people without a residence could legally vote in elections. And he established NCH’s Speakers Bureau, which provides people experiencing homelessness a platform to share their stories and receive speaking fees while raising public awareness about homelessness.
Michael Stoops was an important partner to the National Low Income Housing Coalition. For many years, NCH and NLIHC shared adjacent office space and worked closely together on various projects. Michael believed in the necessity of affordable housing as a solution to homelessness, and he was involved at the very beginnings of the national Housing Trust Fund campaign. He was a trusted and valued partner of NLIHC since he began working with NCH full-time in 1988.
As an organizer, Michael made time for everyone who wanted to be involved in the movement. He mentored numerous campus activists working to end homelessness through direct action and awareness campaigns at colleges and universities throughout the country. He also worked tirelessly to build an advocacy culture wherein people experiencing homelessness were actively involved in campaigns to achieve legislative solutions. Michael was never far removed from the reality of homelessness: many current or formerly homeless individuals were an important part of his social circle. He believed strongly in an inclusive movement, and this belief was reflected in his organizing.
Michael’s commitment to ending homelessness was extraordinary. He will be greatly missed.