WIU Logo


A Guide to Finding Government and Legal Information

Web version of this guide includes links to web resources.

Search Tips:

Mix and match these terms in searching the library catalog, WestCat , or use them to search journal articles and law reviews via the library's Databases page. You can also use them to search government information sites listed on our Starting Points page - click the tab and pay particular attention to the Top Six.

  • homelessness
  • homeless persons
  • mental illness
  • drug use
  • housing
  • mortgage crisis
  • vagrancy/vagrants
  • transients and migrants
  • veterans
  • children
  • older people
  • poor
  • low-income housing
  • poverty
  • foreclosures
  • panhandling
  • social marginality
  • crime

Related Topics:
  • public housing
  • gangs
  • poverty

An important source for many research topics is Congress. Congressional committees and subcommittees hold hearings on a wide variety of controversial and timely subjects. Simply add the word "hearing?" to a search string in WestCat .

Search Engines

Google and StartPage
Use these search engines to search for government information by typing "site:gov" in the search box preceding your search terms:

  • site:gov homelessness
  • site:mil "homeless veterans"
Law Review Articles and Annotations

Law reviews are an important resource for legal topics like this one. They can lead you to laws and cases as well as discuss legal theory. A few law journals are indexed in multidisciplinary databases, but the best bang for your buck will be to search Nexis Uni , which provides full-text access to many hundreds of law reviews.

Federal Government Information
United States Interagency Council on Homelessness

Congress established the Interagency Council on Homelessness in 1987 with the passage of the Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act. The Council is responsible for providing Federal leadership for activities to assist homeless families and individuals.

Homelessness Assistance (

This site focuses on assistance and links to both government and non-government sites for information and programs to help the homeless.

Homelessness (HHS)

Link to research and resources for the homeless, find grant opportunities, and more.

Homelessness Resource Center (SAMHSA)

Here you can explore homelessness and its prevention through two of its biggest causes: substance abuse and mental illness.

Veteran Homelessness

Here you can find quick facts on veteran homelessness.

Ending Veterans’ Homelessness

This hearing covers several programs and potential programs to help homeless veterans.
Y 4.B 22/3:S.HRG.111-497

Housing our Heroes: An Examination of the Progress in Ending Veterans’ Homelessness

This hearing looks at the progress of the HUD-VASH program in housing veterans and needs for the future. 2010

Service to the Homeless (SSA)

As part of the Social Security Administration's website, this page offers reports, information on SSA programs, explanations regarding qualification of benefits and funds availability for outreach projects, as well as other federal and resource links.

Costs Associated with First-Time Homelessness for Families and Individuals

This 235-page report analyzes the costs associated with homelessness, both for the individual and for programs.

The Emergency and Transitional Shelter Population, 2010

Characteristics of shelter populations during the 2010 decennial census.

Illinois Government Information
Illinois Emergency & Transitional Housing Program: Report to the General Assembly

This report comprises statistics on the individuals being served by this program.
ILLINOIS. 363.3483 I29eth

Legal Information
"The 'No Property' Problem: Understanding Poverty By Understanding Wealth"

This article reviews the book Reckoning With Homelessness by Kim Hopper. The argument over whether individual or structural forces cause homelessness is examined, as are the relationships between this argument and arguments involving race and poverty. The author of this article concurs with Mr. Hopper in his assertion that only by studying wealth and its reaction to homelessness can we understand poverty.
Michigan Law Review. Vol. 102, No. 6 pp. 1000-23 May 2004

Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act of 1987

In addition to providing the federal definition of "homeless", this Act protects and improves the lives and safety of the homeless, especially the elderly, the handicapped, and families with children.
P.L. 100-77; 101 STAT. 482; 42 U.S.C. 11301 et seq.

Subject Guides