NATIONALHOMELESS.ORG
Twitter Facebook Facebook Facebook Facebook

Season’s Greetings

Written by NCH Staff on . Posted in Advocacy

Season’s Greetings from all of us at the National Coalition for the Homeless to you, our members, friends and colleagues. I hope that this holiday season is filled with wonderful surprises, chance meetings, and all the joys of the holiday season. As friends stop by our office to wish us well, I’m reminded how fortunate we all are to have such a wonderful community who are dedicated to the important work we do and proud to define us as a premier national advocacy organization.

With the 2011 calendar drawing to a close and our 2012 strategic plan at its midway point, I’m pleased to say that we’re on a direct and correct course for advancing NCH’s mission: “To prevent and end homelessness, while ensuring that the immediate needs of those experiencing homelessness are met and that their civil rights are protected.” We have accomplished a great deal in partnership with homeless Americans by protecting advancements in public policy, restoring and defending civil rights, holding accountable banks and housing officials for their role in the foreclosure crisis, and setting community standards for homelessness prevention and rapid re-housing.

While we recognize the progress we’ve made thus far, we must also identify those things which have prevented us from functioning expeditiously and accomplishing the interim steps that appeared so do-able at first blush. As we look towards next year, the three most severe and direct challenges for those we serve and for our organization specifically will be the difficult national economy, the resulting reductions in revenue from grants and contributions, and the mounting fatigue towards persistent poverty and homelessness.

The tradition of the holiday “wish list” seems an appropriate metaphor for the closing of this year’s holiday message…

In difficult times, when it seems that providing resources and direct service are the only activities that deserve your attention – Understand the important role that NCH’s advocacy plays in protecting & preserving those resources & services…

When donors are faced with their own financial challenges – Consider that NCH depends on your continued support and that your responsibility to those most in need grows more important in difficult times and is appreciated all the more…

AND, as homeless hate crimes grow, criminalizing homelessness becomes common, affordable housing disappears and low income workers fail to earn a livable wage – Remember the homeless and those who proudly and honorably serve every day.

Remember the National Coalition for the Homeless.

Can Social Media End Homelessness?

Written by NCH Staff on . Posted in Advocacy

By Megan Hustings

Good thing I’m not that old, because I’m showing my age. I’ve posted my way through several generations of social networks.  In college, students at my school shared a network of “Plans,” a page that was hosted on the college’s intranet where users could make text only posts (quotes, rants, etc.) and tag their friends. After graduation, I started out on Friendster, which I barely remember now. MySpace was the next big thing, but even as it grew in popularity, other online communities began vying for internet prominence.

Today, Facebook and Twitter seem to reign the waves, but again, new online communities continue to spring up to offer unique opportunities for organizing certain kinds of communities. I can’t even begin to list all the websites that could be classified as social networks, you can look for more on this Wikipedia listing of social networks, or I love to get lost in the “Conversation Prism” – here’s the author’s blog post.

Since starting out with NCH five years ago as an AmeriCorps*VISTA volunteer, I’ve seen the organization’s fundraising and outreach change quite a bit. Back then, we focused on sending out appeal letters a few times a year and writing grant proposals, but had just moved to an online only newsletter. Now, we look for more diverse funding sources, and spend a good amount of time connecting to our supporters and members through online and social media – Twitter, Facebook, the Bring America Home Blog, and many others (Change.org, MySpace, YouTube, Razoo, etc.).

The question I keep coming back to is how do we effectively engage the NCH community in ending homelessness through these networks? Can online advocacy make a difference?

We have raised some funds over the years from Facebook Causes, and have passed along several successful petitions through Change.org. Advocacy in all its forms is hard to quantify, but we know that we have the ears (or screens) of well over 15,000 advocates through various social media websites.

Recently, we sent out surveys on our social networks, Facebook and Twitter, asking you how we could improve our social networking presence. (To all of you who responded, thank you!) Through this experience, we got to know a little about you and how you interact with NCH online. Some of the things we learned were:

  • Many of you first engaged with us through social media to learn more about advocacy for the homeless
  • We Tweet just the right amount, but you would prefer if we posted more on Facebook.
  • You are most interested in the subjects of homeless organizations and services, and homeless services, but those on Facebook would like to see more direct testimonials from people experiencing homelessness
  • Interestingly, most of you work for another organization relating to homelessness

Finally, we learned that only a few of you who engage with us on Facebook and Twitter are active, contributing members of NCH. We know budgets are tight all around, but if you’re able to become a member, this holiday season is a great time to do so!

We have already begun to use this information to (hopefully!) improve our social networking interactions with you. But is there more we can be doing? Are we making a difference by educating with news stories, sharing the faces and voices of those who experience homelessness, or spreading awareness of what our great partners are doing across the country?

We’re always open to more suggestions, or examples of successes you have had in mobilizing your online community. Please feel free to leave your comments or contact me at 202-462-4822 or mhustings@nationalhomeless.org.

Guest Post: National Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week

Written by NCH Staff on . Posted in Advocacy, Awareness

Today’s guest post is from Dr. Norweeta Milburn, Professor at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at the University of California, Los Angeles. Dr. Milburn chaired the American Psychological Association’s (APA) 2009 Presidential Task Force on Psychology’s Contribution to End Homelessness.  The task force released a great report, and NCH is proud to partner with the APA’s Public Interest Directorate to raise awareness among psychologists of how we can all work together to end homelessness.

As I walk my daily early morning route up Westwood Avenue from the parking garage to my UCLA office in the old Neuropsychiatric Institute, it is impossible not to see what appears to be bundles of clothing in doorways are actually people sleeping. Homeless people have found a place to sleep that provides some security and shelter in the doorways of office buildings and store fronts in a relatively safe area.

In the mild Southern California October evenings, the doorways do not seem like such a bad spot to spend the night, but people will still be there, layered deeper in their worn clothing, when our weather turns wet and cold.  In the late afternoon, homeless people are sitting on benches or walking on the sidewalks; some are seriously mentally and actively psychotic, but some are not.  Other homeless people come to Westwood to panhandle but do not sleep on the streets.

Photo courtesy of davco9200 on Flickr

There is a man that I exchange “hello, how are you and have a nice day” with every day who gets off a bus in the morning to walk to his “spot” to stand with a cup asking for donations.  His cup says he is a homeless veteran.  There are other homeless veterans on the street in wheelchairs.  In the shadow of one of the world’s great universities, Westwood is no different from urban areas in many other cities where homeless people seem to be everywhere.

Before we accept this as the inevitable result of the new normal, what can be done to move public policy further in the direction of ending homelessness?   The American Psychological Association’s Task Force on Psychology’s Contribution to End Homelessness, it ‘s report “Helping People without Homes: The Role of Psychologists and Recommendations to Advance Training, Research, Practice and Policy,” advocates for  federal legislation to create supportive housing and safe low-income housing across geographic areas (e.g., urban, suburban and rural) and for legislation that provides  for mental health and a range of other needed services for homeless people: low-income housing, supplemental income, food and benefits.  Even in this era of limited funding, the needs of people who are homeless cannot be ignored.

What do I do personally?  Sometimes I put money in their cups. I try to always acknowledge homeless people who approach me – say  hello when greeted with a hello, and say sorry, no, when asked for spare change and don’t want to give it.  I also carry granola bars in my car (as suggested by another psychologist).

I wasn’t sure about this tactic, but one day after I had parked my car on the street, a rather sullen homeless young person sitting in a doorway by the parking spot asked for spare change.  I said no, sorry, but asked if he would like a few granola bars.  He actually perked up, lost his adolescent attitude and said yes.    His entire demeanor changed – I don’t think it was just the food, it was the fact that another person had taken a few minutes to stop and connect with him. Sometimes that is all we can do daily – continue to remember that homeless people are fellow human beings just like us and those brief social connections do matter.

NATIONALHOMELESS.ORG

National Coalition for the Homeless | 2201 P St NW, Washington, DC 20037 | (202) 462-4822 | info [at] nationalhomeless [dot] org
© 2018 National Coalition for the Homeless | Privacy Policy
Powered by Warp Theme Framework