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Being A Good Neighbor

Written by Je'Lissa on . Posted in Advocacy, Civil Rights, Community Organizing, Housing, Poverty

Compassion and charity have never been enough to address the realities plaguing a society’s most vulnerable citizens long-term. Efforts toward obtaining a living wage, developing more affordable, secure and safe housing, ending community violence and law enforcement brutality, and protecting the rights of people experiencing homelessness must be transformative for lasting change. How we address poverty and its emerging issues, and all forms of oppression is measurement of how we see ourselves in relation to each other in community as neighbors, and ultimately as fellow human beings.

In 1956 as he prepared for the Montgomery bus protests, Dr. King delivered his sermon “On Being a Good Neighbor” and identified our neighbor as “Anyone who lies in need at life’s roadside.” As he reflected on the issues of the day, he asked his listeners, “What would happen if we do not take a stand?” That question is still pertinent today, as we reflect on the Trayvon Martins, the Sandra Blands, the victims of gun violence, the growing number of children without permanent housing, and the women and men burdened with fines and arrest records for inhabiting public spaces. These are a few of our neighbors who can be counted among the most vulnerable and in need.

Unfortunately, it seems that we sometimes struggle with what it means to be a good neighbor to those who are like us, and much too often to those who are not like us. Maybe we feel powerless, are fearful, blame the victimized, or have been lulled into complacency and passivity. Fortunately, history bears witness to what committed people awaken to the call for greater humanity can accomplish.

As we engage in activities across the nation commemorating the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, two questions arise, “How open are our ears, minds, and hearts to today’s voices echoing his call for social and economic justice? And, what are we willing to do to get it done?” Dr. King’s question nearly sixty years ago allows us to individually and collectively identify if we can be counted among the active participants to bring about change for our day. This year as we celebrate his life and legacy let us become awaken to the call for justice in new ways. Whether we find ourselves involved in community, seated at tables of power, members of faith communities, or on social media, let us shake the trees of fear, complacency and passivity with active involvement in causes and movements that seek solutions. Let us be active for change, and by doing so take a stand that reflects the essence of being a good neighbor.

– DeBorah Gilbert White, Founder and Coordinator of HerStory Ensemble

MLKonPovertyNCH

Our Holiday Wishlist (and three reasons to give)

Written by admin on . Posted in Advocacy, Civil Rights, Donate, Outreach

Though our offices are closed for the Federal holiday, we are plotting how we will work towards a true end to homelessness in 2016.

Here is our holiday wish list for the coming year:

  1. For each one of the Presidential candidates to explain how s/he will reinvest in affordable housing and work to end homelessness.
  2. That each of our cities stops ticketing, harassing and arresting our homeless neighbors because they have nowhere but public spaces to eat, sleep, store personal items and take care of their hygiene and bodily needs.
  3. That more landlords will lease their properties to renters who have housing vouchers.
  4. That Congress will fully fund, and preserve funding for, the National Housing Trust Fund.
  5. That more cities and states will adopt Homeless Bill of Rights legislation that protects people who are unhoused from discrimination.
  6. That Congress adopts a minimum wage that is a living wage based on local cost of living.
  7. For more community engagement around housing and homelessness through participation in the Faces of Homelessness Speakers’ Bureau, National Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week, and National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day.
  8. For all states to expand Medicaid under the ACA, and to invest in mental health infrastructure.
  9. That Federal and municipal governments follow through on their promise to end chronic and veteran homelessness by the end of 2016.
  10. That cities expand emergency services to meet the needs of everyone who experiences homelessness or struggles to maintain housing, including youth, ex-offenders, families and the elderly.

Will you help us realize these goals?

Here are 3 quick reasons to support NCH:

  1. Have you visited our website this year to learn more about homelessness?
    It takes one staff member (there are 3 of us) at least one full day per week to keep our site updated – during that time, an average of about 1,500 people (per day) have accessed our pages. In 2016, we’ll be working to release updated reports and factsheets, as well as build a tool you’ll be able to use to quickly find info about homelessness in your community. Give to help provide research for other students, reserchers and advocates!

  2. Have you ReTweeted or shared our posts on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram?
    We daily search through current events to bring you the most up to date and relevant news about advocacy to end homelessness. We’re serious about reaching you where you are. We hope you’ll be serious about supporting our work through your favorite online giving site: Network for Good, PayPal, Razoo, GoodSearch, AmazonSmileJustGive, or find us on other sites using our Tax ID #52-1517415!

  3. Have you seen a Faces of Homelessness panel speaker tell their story?
    We work with partners across the country – from BBYO, the Religious Action Center and the CloseUp Foundation, to schools like Villanova and Georgetown Universities – to schedule over 300 Faces presentations each year. If you are one of the approximately 15,000 people who met a speaker this year, you benefited from NCH programs! Give today so that others will have the opportunity to hear James read his poem “Arugula Salad” or to give Steve a big bear hug!

Yet another organized encampment is uprooted

Written by admin on . Posted in Awareness, Civil Rights, Criminalization, Tent Cities

In recent years, as the fashion of criminalizing the people experiencing homelessness in the United States by local governments has grown more popular, the nation’s capital, Washington, DC, has largely respected the rights and needs of its poorest residents. Unfortunately, it seems that even as the city’s new mayor has publicly dedicated her administration to giving those experiencing homelessness within her jurisdiction the supports they need, her office is moving to displace the small number of men and women who have formed their own refuge from the city’s dangerous streets and chaotic shelters. A very troubling way to celebrate National Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week (Nov. 14-22).

Postcard FrontErected atop an empty stretch of grass in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood of Washington, co-existing alongside foreign embassies and luxury hotels, a small community of tents serves as home for a tight-knit, diverse community of unhoused Washingtonians. In recent weeks, that community has had to face the possibility of dislocation, despite the fact that many of the camp’s housed neighbors support them. According to WTOP, a local news station, Marina Streznewski, who serves as president of the Foggy Bottom Association, believes homeless residents are better off where they are than in the city’s notoriously overcrowded shelter system. “It may be cold out here, but it’s safer.”

By the time you read this, these men and women may already have been relocated. The city moved on Monday to close down the camp, but media attention and an alleged refusal by local law enforcement to assist the mayor’s office in the tear-down has meant that many of the tents remained in place at noon of the following day. However, members of the besieged community believe it’s only a matter of time before they and their belongings face an uncertain future back out on the street. Worse yet, vans sent to relocate residents have reportedly refused to tell them where they’d be taken if they complied with the city’s order.

If you are a resident of the District of Columbia, or if you care about the plight of these and other people experiencing homelessness in the most powerful city in the world, we encourage you to contact Mayor Muriel Bowser’s office by phone (202-727-6300), email (eom@dc.gov), or on social media (tweet @MayorBowser), and remind her that all of her constituents deserve to be treated with respect, and to be sure these and all unhoused residents of the area are offered safe and accessible shelter or permanent housing.

While you’re at it, you can sign our petition asking the District government to join Rhode Island, Connecticut, Illinois, and Puerto Rico in enacting legislation to end legal discrimination against our unhoused neighbors.

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