Empty the Shelters is a volunteer student and youth run organization committed to fighting poverty and other forms of oppression through fundamental social change. We believe that direct service, though beneficial, is NOT enough.
For nearly ten years, ETS in Atlanta has worked to organize and train students and young people to work in solidarity with grassroots organizations led by poor people struggling to end poverty and oppression in their own communities. Through our work we have built strong partnerships with organizations locally and nationally, such as the Georgia Citizen's Coalition on Hunger, the Georgia Human Rights Union, Project South, Youth Pride, Atlanta Harm Reduction Coalition, and the Kensington Welfare Rights Union.
ETS was born out of conversations between UPenn students and homeless activists who sought to build a connection between the student service movement and organizations founded and led by poor people. The first annual ETS Summer of Social Action (SSA) brought 40 student activists from around the country for an intensive 8-week program to help build a new model for social change. Embracing the slogan, "Empty the shelters, fill the homes!", participants worked with local poor people's organizations to stage takeovers of abandoned government-owned buildings for homeless families and call attention to the growing crisis of poverty and homelessness in the United States.
In 1992, one of the original SSA participants Holli Levinson dropped out of graduate school in order to start up an ETS chapter in Atlanta. Since then, ETS sites in both Philly and Atlanta have conducted annual SSA programs along with year-round organizing to develop and sustain relationships with local poor people's organizations. Throughout, this work has also been conducted within a framework of national poor people's networks, such as the Up and Out of Poverty Now! Coalition and the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign.
ETS is a community of students and youth dedicated to social justice. We are 100% volunteer run and we operate as a collective. We reject hierarchical organization and our decision making processes are by consensus.