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Homelessness is not a minor problem

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

As our Executive Director Neil Donovan said in a “Traveling with Neil” video recently, homelessness cannot be solved by targeting sub-populations. However, they may provide volunteers, spectators, and politicians with a multidimensional view or homelessness beyond what stigmas or preconceived notions exist.

All sub-populations of people who become homeless experience the same needs: affordable housing, living wages, and proper protection of their civil rights. This goes for homeless youth, especially. According to the National Center on Family Homelessness’ 2011 Report “America’s Youngest Outcasts,” the population of homeless children has increased by over a third since 2007, with the hardest hit areas being the rural South and California.

It’s no question that families are the fastest growing segment of the homeless population, especially since the recession. Along with family and all other growing kinds of homelessness, where does “youth” fit in?

Many educational statutes define a ‘child’ as being under the age of 18. Many children become homeless with their families. But another large group of under-18-year-olds find themselves homeless and with no family support.

Luckily there are many shelters and safe housing programs that do great work to ameliorate homelessness, although many define “youth” differently. Many youth shelters across the country, such as Aarti Hotel and El Rescate, can only hold youth until 24. The Homeless Youth Coalition classifies youth to a lesser range of 18-23 years old.  First Steps for Youth helps an even small youth range: 16-18 years old, including minors.

Still, after the age of 18, legal adulthood, a homeless person is still homeless. So where does youth end? Better yet, when does youth homelessness end?

I think those are the wrong questions. The right question is where does homelessness end? For a 17 year old,  we can combat homelessness by keeping them in school, giving them the resources to learning trade, helping them find and keep a job that pays a living wage, and making housing—both urban and rural—affordable. These are the same things that contributed to the 12% drop in homeless veterans last year. Why? Because they are proven to work for everybody.

Homelessness has many faces, and the youth of America are unfortunately among them. The good news is no new plans need to be drawn up specifically for the youth. We can still bring America home with housing justice, economic justice, and health care justice –by fulfilling the NCH mission statement:

To prevent and end homelessness while ensuring the immediate needs of those experiencing homelessness are met and their civil rights protected.

-Jose Morales, NCH Spring 2012 Intern

How AmeriCorps is making an impact

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

This year’s National AmeriCorps Week, March 10 – 18, is an opportunity for AmeriCorps members, alums, grantees, program partners and friends to demonstrate impact on critical issues, bring more Americans into service, and thank the community partners who make AmeriCorps possible. AmeriCorps Week shines a light on the more than 80,000 members currently serving in communities across the country – individuals who are effectively serving and meeting critical needs in our country’s communities.

I am one of these proud 80,000 AmeriCorps members! I started with AmeriCorps*VISTA in the summer 0f 2009. So far the experience has taken me to rebuilding homes in the bayous of Louisiana, teaching lessons in the inner city classrooms of Washington, D.C., and now serving as a VISTA Project Leader for the vast reaching five state and counting VISTA program here at the National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH). The experience, connections, and knowledge I have gained from serving are already helping guide and shape my future.

Brian being sworn in to his 3rd year of VISTA

In this, my third year of AmeriCorps*VISTA I have learned what it means to really be an advocate for a community. I have grown a lot in the few short months I have worked with NCH. Being apart of a great VISTA network allows for me to be inspired by the work of other members daily whether it is a speakers bureau reaching a group of students for the first time, LGBTQ outreach to those who need services desperately, or to see veterans stand downs where literally hundreds of our nation’s patriots get the help and respect they deserve. The work that our members are doing is truly incredible and uplifting.

The National Coalition for the Homeless is the oldest and largest homeless advocacy organization in the country.  Through their stewardship they have administered the largest AmeriCorps*VISTA project for the homeless in the country. Two out of three staff members at the coalition are past VISTA members themselves and NCH has partnered with VISTA for the past fourteen years. NCH believes in the leadership potential of these individuals and has supported them both as an organization and a strategy to continue to create change. During this year’s AmeriCorps Week, you can support NCH’s AmeriCorps*VISTA project today through the Crisis Hidden in Plain View campaign. The campaign is working to encourage outreach and engagement to families and individuals who are homeless or at-risk of becoming un-housed. Here is how you can give.

The value of AmeriCorps service has been felt in communities both large and small. Here at NCH we look forward to celebrating AmeriCorps Week with our service partners and volunteers and lifting up currently serving members and the hundreds of thousands of Alums – they are at the forefront of possibility for community change.

In Service,
Brian Parks
AmeriCorps*VISTA Leader
Washington, DC

Crisis Hidden in Plain View

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

Homelessness is quickly becoming America’s “forgotten tragedy”. All around us, we are encountering historic levels of economic hardship, childhood hunger, terminal illness, domestic violence, disabled veterans’ languishing on the streets, as well as a rising tide of lethal hate crimes. But we can make a difference.

The National Coalition for the Homeless is proud to announce a new campaign, Crisis Hidden in Plain View, a campaign to encourage outreach and engagement to families and individuals who are homeless or at-risk of becoming un-housed.  Watch the video.

We need your help today!

NCH is working each day to prevent and end homelessness, while ensuring that the needs of those experiencing homelessness are met. We do this by…

  • Bringing America Home. Ending homelessness is a national problem with local solutions: NCH’s is ending homelessness by creating affordable housing; growing living wage jobs; improving access to affordable healthcare; and, protecting civil rights.
  • Protecting the Human Right to Shelter & Housing. Everyone deserves a place to call home. NCH is working to establish and preserve the human right to shelter & housing.
  • Helping Hands. Homeless families and individuals can use support: NCH has placed 60 VISTA volunteers in 24 sites across 6 states, giving people in need a helping hand.
  • Keeping an Eye on Justice. Poverty is not a crime: NCH is protecting workers rights in the courts and in the field and making certain that homelessness can’t be criminalized.
  • Speaking Truth to Power. NCH issues twelve annual reports with in-depth analysis and reviews on housing, healthcare, jobs & benefit income and civil rights.
  • Protecting Voting Rights: Homelessness can feel dehumanizing. NCH is fighting for the right and ability to vote by registering 25,0000 voters living in persistent poverty.
  • Sharing Our Stories: The homeless experience is best told in the first person; NCH’s Speakers Bureau is dozens of speakers, 100’s of thousands listeners, and 30 bureaus.
  • Grassroots Organizing: Homelessness is not community-less. NCH brings homeless stakeholders together to organize, act in their own self-interest and create durable power for many tomorrows.

Your donation today will be matched dollar-for-dollar through a time-limited $30,000 matching contribution.

Contributions to housing the homeless have never been more necessary, and investments today have never more effective. NCH is Bringing America Home and we need your support now.

NATIONALHOMELESS.ORG

National Coalition for the Homeless | 2201 P St NW, Washington, DC 20037 | (202) 462-4822 | info [at] nationalhomeless [dot] org
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