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Homelessness vs. Homelessness

Written by NCH Staff on . Posted in Advocacy, Awareness, Policy Advocacy

On January 26, 2011, the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH), HUD and the Department of Education co-hosted an all day session dedicated to the word “homeless”. An entire day was spent assessing the feasibility of a common federal definition for homeless, including a single federal vocabulary and data standard that could be used in targeting homeless programs as well as mainstream programs.

The US government, across nearly two dozen domestic federal agencies, and people experiencing homelessness each have problems with the multi-defined use of the term “homeless”. Last year the General Accountability Office caused a welcome stir by publishing recommendations for the development of a common vocabulary for “homeless” and common data standards related to homelessness and housing stability. Though long held as a fact within communities nationwide, a single definition for homelessness has eluded the federal government for decades.

In the GAO report, Congress advised the session’s co-hosts of the important first step, in this correction process, of guaranteeing the involvement of a broad range of stakeholders. Ten of these stakeholders were current and formerly homeless men and women, who represented the homeless experience firsthand or Consumer Advocates.

The involvement of Consumer Advocates is a vitally important commitment made by the Obama administration and outlined in Opening Doors: The Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness 2010.

Homeless Memorial Day Resolution Introduced to Congress

Written by NCH Staff on . Posted in Advocacy, Awareness, Policy Advocacy

Florida Congressman Introduces Resolution Recognizing National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day

Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL) has introduced a House Concurrent Resolution expressing Congress’s support of the goals and ideals of National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day.  This year marks the 10th anniversary of National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day, which is observed on December 21, 2010.

“Winter is a notoriously difficult time of year for homeless people,” said Hastings, who serves as the Co-Founder and Co-Chairman of the Congressional Caucus on Homelessness.  ”Furthermore, the spirit of the holiday season provides an opportunity for promoting compassion and concern for all, especially the homeless.”

On or around the longest night of the year, December 21, the National Coalition for the Homeless and National Health Care for the Homeless Council hold memorial services for homeless individuals who have died from causes related to their homelessness. Throughout the state of Florida, this important day is being recognized, along with over 200 other local municipalities, organizations, and statewide organizations throughout the United States.  With the support of the National Coalition for the Homeless, National Consumer Advisory Board, and National Health Care for the Homeless Council; National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day brings attention to the tragedy of homelessness.

“Homelessness, however, is not just a local issue; it is a national problem that beckons national attention,” said Hastings. Hastings’ resolution encourages state and local governments, the President, media, and the general public to support the goals and ideals of National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day as well as reaffirms our country’s commitment to helping those less fortunate members of society and acknowledges the efforts of those who currently are.

“A national memorial day will ensure that we keep the problem in perspective,” further noted Hastings.  ”Through all the statistics on homelessness, it’s easy to forget that numbers correspond to actual individuals with lives and families.” We must remember their lives-men, women, and children-and we must remember why they died.”

Joining Hastings as original co-sponsors are (15) Representatives Eddie Bernice Johnson, Judy Biggert, Kathy Castor, Steve Cohen, John Conyers, Jr., Elijah E. Cummings, Geoff Davis, Ted Deutch, Barney Frank, Raúl M. Grijalva, Luis V. Gutiérrez, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Chellie Pingree, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and Lynn Woolsey.

Congressman Alcee L. Hastings is Vice Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, a senior member of the House Rules Committee, and Co-Chairman of the U.S. Helsinki Commission.

View text of resolution.

Senator Robert Byrd, Homeless Advocate Too!

Written by NCH Staff on . Posted in Advocacy, Awareness, Policy Advocacy

By Michael Stoops, Director of Community Organizing

The McKinney Act was the first major federal program to provide funds for people experiencing homeless and inspired bipartisan support from both the House and the Senate. The current McKinney-Vento Act remains a tribute to the work of one of its chief Senate sponsors, the late Robert C. Byrd. Byrd considered the act a “conscientious and realistic emergency approach to dealing with the problems of homelessness” and was one of the chief sponsors of the Senate Bill in 1987. Because of Byrd’s’ leadership, along with Senate Minority Leader Robert Dole, the Senate passed the House Bill 85-12. Together their support ensured enough votes to override a Presidential veto, and President Reagan reluctantly signed the bill into law on July 22, 1987.

NCH fondly remembers Senator Byrd’s legacy. Both a leader for West Virginia and the nation as a whole, Byrd appreciated the potential and fallibility of humans, and the need for the government to look after its poorest residents.

Read more about Sen. Byrd’s legacy at the Wash Post.

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