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Welcome our Summer Interns

Written by NCH Staff on . Posted in Advocacy

Summer is in full swing and our interns are hard at work! From co-coordinating our National Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week to cataloging our in-house library, these students are actively learning and contributing to NCH’s work. Get to know our interns and what has driven them to stand against homelessness.

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Intern - Brian
Brian Brazeau
Senior, College of the Holy Cross
Political Science and Italian
“I have lived in the same city in Rhode Island for most of my life and never took the opportunity to witness the suffering of those around me. While I worked for my local congressman last summer, I began to hear the stories of those impoverished in my local district, but still took very little direct action to help the situation.  During my junior year, I studied abroad in Bologna, Italy, finally leaving my New England safety net for the first time. However, what I did not realize was that I would be directly witnessing those who were truly suffering from homelessness and poverty. Throughout the day, I would see people panhandling for money and at night, the same people would be sleeping under doorways and on public benches. It was sad to know that many had been suffering in Europe and, after having been in DC, to know that there are many suffering here in our own nation.

“Now as an intern for NCH, I hope to do all I can to help those who are suffering from homelessness through my work on the Homeless Bill of Rights. While it will not completely eradicate homelessness, I believe it will be the first step in gaining collective action to provide equal rights to all who are homeless.”

 

Intern - Liz

Elizabeth Jo Mason
2nd Year, University of Maryland College Park
Masters of Library and Information Science
“Living in Baltimore, Maryland most of my life, I have always been aware of the struggle of homeless people around me. I have passed by many people in the city who needed money or otherwise looked like they were in need of shelter. However, I did not think to do something about it until a friend from high school was personally stricken with homelessness.

“I chose to become a Cataloging Intern at NCH because it would allow me to become more directly involved in the process of educating homeless people and making a difference in their lives while gaining more cataloging experience for my Masters of Library and Information Science degree.”

Intern - Keith
Keith Meyer
Junior, Allegheny College
Political Science and Philosophy
“I have always felt inspired to engage with the world through a more objective standpoint than merely my own. I had overlooked the perspectives and lives of those experiencing homelessness for too long, which is an issue that remains discrete if existent at all in my small, rural hometown. The internship offers a unique way to engage with this and also interact with our country’s political framework as a basis for institutional change.”

Intern - Sylvia
Sylvia Precht-Rodriguez
Junior, Vanderbilt University
Political Science
“Active citizenship includes addressing the inescapable and mounting issue of homelessness in our nation. This lesson I have learned from my upbringing in Brooklyn, New York and teachings at Vanderbilt University. This summer I am fortunate enough to be surrounded by the staff of the National Coalition for the Homeless who are dedicating years of their lives to alleviating the conditions of those who do not have homes. My role as a Research Fellow, and the work to publish the 2012 Hate Crimes Report Against the Homeless, will hopefully advance their efforts of which I am just beginning to understand. I am learning and I am being humbled by my time here.”

Citizen Engagement: Educating City Council About Solutions to Homelessness

Written by NCH Staff on . Posted in Advocacy, Awareness, Speakers' Bureau

On June 24, Baltimore’s Faces of Homelessness Speakers’ Bureau held a first-of-its-kind speaking engagement by Bureau members who shared their perspectives and experiences of homelessness with members of the City Council, area service providers, and other invited guests (including Michael Stoops and Brian Parks of the National Coalition for the Homeless).

Earlier this year, many members of the Bureau were involved in organizing efforts to stop the city from forcibly removing a community from an encampment under the Jones Falls Expressway in downtown Baltimore. While advocates were not able to stop the City from closing down the encampment, they successfully drew attention to the injustice of closing down an encampment without providing any place for campers to go. City Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke called a hearing to revisit commitments five years in to the city’s “Journey Home” 10-year plan to end homelessness.

Comments made at the hearing indicated misconceptions about the causes and experience of homelessness.  A University of Maryland Social Work Intern who was involved in the organizing efforts around the encampment began reaching out to Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke about organizing discussion with members of the Speakers’ Bureau.

The Baltimore Speakers' Bureau at a recent event.

The Baltimore Speakers’ Bureau at a recent event.

Many emails and several months later, the Speakers’ Bureau finally set a date to meet with City Council in late June and dove into preparing for this very important speaking engagement.  The Bureau aimed to keep the discussion focused on solutions and opportunities for collaboration and hoped that City Council members would walk away with an understanding that while there are a myriad of individual circumstances that contribute to a person losing their home, underlying causes of homelessness all relate to poverty, lack of affordable housing and insufficient health care.

Members outlined goals for the meeting through an agenda that included an introduction on the common misconceptions and stereotypes held about people experiencing homelessness, personal stories from Speakers Bob Jankowiack, Bonnie Lane, and Damien Haussling, as well as a roundtable discussion on pressing issues facing the homeless community. Faces of Homelessness Speaker Tony Simmons who moderated the presentation challenged the audience to think about how themes emerging from Speakers’ stories can point us toward solutions.

The Baltimore Bureau was thrilled by the level of engagement of Council Members during the discussion. Speakers’ Bureau members and advocates from the homeless community were also present to weigh in on the roundtable discussion which focused on changing perspectives of homelessness and an upcoming shelter transition facing the community.

What made this event so important was that for the first time, the real experts on homelessness—those with lived experience—led elected officials and leaders of the service provider community in a discussion on the state of homelessness in Baltimore.  Speakers demonstrated the importance of partnering with individuals that have experienced homelessness in the struggle to end it.

The event captured the essence of a favorite poem of mine by Julia Dinsmore, a poet and activist for social justice from Minneapolis (my hometown):

Take another look, don’t go away. For I am not the problem, but the solution. And… my name is not ‘Those People.’

By Vanessa Borotz
NCH AmeriCorps*VISTA volunteer

Read more about what the Baltimore Speakers’ Bureau is up to: http://citypaper.com/arts/stage/i-am-i-said-1.1517758

NCH Earns Glowing Congressional Recognitions on its 30th Anniversary

Written by NCH Staff on . Posted in Advocacy, Hate Crimes, Policy Advocacy

U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) and U.S. Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) recently presented congressional recognitions congratulating the National Coalition for the Homeless on its 30th Anniversary, commending NCH for its accomplishments in the struggle to end homelessness.

Senate Recognition

NCH began with activists’ pursuit of the right of people experiencing homelessness to have shelter and affordable housing, and has developed into an advocacy organization at the forefront of implementing policies to prevent and end homelessness. Our 30th Anniversary is a period of reflection, a time to honor the past and build hope for the future through effective and impactful education, advocacy, programs and service.

NCH inspired descriptions from Sen. Cardin like “an outstanding organization,” and one that commits to “selfless striving to end homelessness.”  These remarks welcome a glance at actions that helped create this legacy, like ensuring that those who have experienced homelessness remain an integral part of advocacy efforts, especially through the Faces of Homelessness Speakers’ Bureau.  Rep. Johnson acknowledged that NCH “has made tremendous gains since its inception,” which keys into our successes in awareness, philanthropy, advocacy and service related to homelessness over its thirty-year history.  Sen. Cardin  pointed to NCH’s shaping of housing policy for the economically deprived, and how it “spearheaded advocacy for the Hate Crimes Against the Homeless Statistics Act,” which remains a substantial move toward preserving the civil rights of those experiencing homelessness.

Congressional Recognition

This recognition highlights not only the organization’s tremendous bounds over its three-decade history, but also a needed positive relationship between NCH and members of Congress.  Both Rep. Johnson and Sen. Cardin realize the importance of introducing policies to end homelessness and deserve their own praise for efforts that demonstrate legal strides towards ending homelessness.

Rep. Johnson was a co-founder and currently co-chairs the Congressional Caucus on Homelessness, and recently conducted a congressional awareness briefing on family homelessness in America.  She also introduced the Violence Against the Homeless Accountability Act of 2013, which pushes for the Department of Justice to include uniform crime stats concerning hate crimes against homeless individuals.

Sen. Cardin has also expressed support for protecting people experiencing homelessness from violence, introducing a bill in the previous session of Congress to quantify hate crimes against people experiencing homelessness (Hate Crimes Against the Homeless Statistics Act), making an effort to include NCH’s own documentation of hate crimes against the homeless, and conducting the first ever Senate hearing on violence against the homeless.  Both Sen. Cardin and Rep. Johnson have headed a congressional push to end homelessness, which includes providing homeless veterans with homes, and revitalizing housing in and bringing jobs to disenfranchised neighborhoods.

These initiatives mark a partnership between NCH and Congressional members that has been critical in the coalition’s epoch of successful advocacy.  Congress’s willingness to pursue valued policies gives organizations like NCH needed allies, voices that offer legislative support to the priorities that will bring an end to homelessness.  In accepting deserved praise on its 30th Anniversary for years of accomplishments on the path toward ending homelessness like promoting the Bring America Home Act, NCH equally acknowledges and thanks Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) for their efforts.

Read Senator Cardin and Representative Johnson‘s full recognition declarations.

Post by Keith Meyer, NCH Awareness & Advocacy Fellow, Rising Junior at Allegheny College

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