A gathering of people with previous experience with homelessness on November 12, 2022 to set a national agenda for ending housing instability in America.
Why Do We Need to Meet?
For 42 years, the National Coalition for the Homeless has worked to amplify the voices of those without housing on the national level. We have worked with leaders on the local level to bring their voices to Congress and to the attention of national media. We have regular interaction with advocates in the major cities in the United States and receive input from people living in urban and rural environments. NCH is governed by a majority of people with previous experience and we have a sizable number of our staff who were once homeless. We believe that it is critical for the groups to meet together to share common advocacy strategies, find out about the obstacles faced by other communities, and to work together on a common agenda.
In 2015, we held a gathering in Denver, Colorado of over 100 individuals who all represented constituents of people currently or formerly homeless. This gathering was the beginning of the strategic planning process, and an event in Washington would be the continuation of that movement. We had some best practices featured and a long day of workshops and the start of building community. A great deal has changed in the last seven years and it is time to complete the work of 2015.
History of Planning:
Because of Covid, we have not been able to meet in person for three years. While we can accomplish a great deal via Zoom, it does not afford the individuals the opportunity to express themselves. We also believe that breaking bread together at a soup kitchen, church basement or a hotel conference room is important for building interpersonal skills and trust among the groups.
In 2021 we held a follow up summit via Zoom in which 65 people attended virtually. We talked about community organizing strategies, we had various leaders talk about successful strategies from the past including demonstrations, using art to win the message, and lawsuits. We talked about how groups sustain themselves and how we can work together going forward. We distributed a community organizing manual that people could use in their local work to lift people up.
Goals for the 2022 Leadership Conference
These are the recommendations from the groups that attended the first organizing meeting.
- Develop a national strategy of priorities that the grassroots can rally around
- We want to have a specific focus on how we can stop the criminalization of homelessness.
- Provide the tools for the local community to act with lessons from the past and strategies that have worked in other communities.
- Meet with national leaders to listen to the issues that groups face on the local level.
- Work with the local community to have those who are without housing are in the lead in a real way and not just figuratively.
- Develop hotspots that with some national pressure might be willing to change policies to better serve those without housing.
- Develop an action plan for the participants to go back to their communities which will result in real solutions to the affordable housing crisis.