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Posts Tagged ‘FACES of Homelessness’

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

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.

D.C. Students Meet Homelessness Face-To-Face

Written by NCH Staff on . Posted in Speakers' Bureau

Each fall,Washington D.C.teems with incoming freshmen from all over the nation… Oftentimes, these students get a glimpse of homelessness for the first time as they roam the streets during their first few weeks. But for the students of Georgetown School of Nursing, Georgetown University, George Washington University, and American University, the encounter took place face-to-face. For years, the NCH’s Faces of Homelessness Speaker’s Bureau has presented to the first-year students at these universities, in the case of Georgetown, since 1989.This year, between August 24th and 29th, NCH’s Speaker’s Bureau spoke to nearly 600 incoming students at these universities, where many of the young adults were personally confronted with this issue, and given a fresh perspective on the experience of homelessness.

The Faces of Homelessness Speaker’s Bureau is one of NCH’s longest-standing and most successful programs. Through the program, panels of people who currently are or have been homeless present their personal experiences to groups of all ages and backgrounds. The Washington D.C. branch of the Bureau has been educating the public through these presentations for 15 years, and in the past 4 years NCH Speaker’s Bureaus have sprung up in Maryland, Massachusetts, Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. The Bureau’s approach is unique in that it empowers those who have been affected by homelessness to directly advocate for themselves and others, and bridge the gap between themselves and their audience, who have often never seen the faces of homelessness up-close. As the Speaker’s Bureau shares the often unexpected variety of paths that can lead to homelessness, the negative view of homelessness as a personal problem is challenged and perceptions of the issue are re-evaluated. In 2010, the Speaker’s Bureau spoke 270 times, reaching a combined audience of 15,000, and 2011 is shaping up to beat that number by a landslide, with over 400 bookings.

This August, each of the three undergraduate presentations was given to incoming freshmen in specially-designed community service programs, and their responses were overwhelmingly positive. Freshman Peter Sacco, from George Washington University’s Community Building Community early move-in program, felt the experience “forced me to re-examine my perceptions of homeless…I used to look at these unfortunate souls as lower level people, whose poor choices in life forced them into their own predicaments. But I desperately want to change this perspective.” He has since reached out to NCH to take part in the 48 Hour Homeless Challenge later this year.

Speaker Jackie Grimball made her debut as an NCH Speaker the GWU program. Her story, which includes an elite family background, a privileged life, and “the best private schools that money could buy, along with a Masters from George Washington University” had an enormous impact on the audience. As it sunk in to the audience that she was speaking to her Alma mater, Ms. Grimball “noticed one young lady in the audience whose mouth dropped.” She also shared that she “could not help but be amazed at the reaction of the students as I was talking to them about my family’s rejection of me when they found out my plight. I saw a few of them crying.” Ms. Grimball received a standing ovation for her presentation, a response which aptly reflects her assessment of the evening: “I believe the GWU students’ reaction was that I was still able to ‘stand’ and I am still ‘standing.’”

Donald Whitehead, one of the presenters at American University, is one of the country’s most notable experts on homelessness. As a former Executive Director of NCH, and two terms as President of NCH’s board, he has been active in the Bureau for years. According to him, speaking to incoming freshmen at American’s Freshman Service Experience “has always been one of my favorite speaking engagements,” but this year he felt “there was something special in the room…The questions that were asked by this year’s group were extremely insightful. As a presenter, I left with a genuine sense of hope that at least for one night there was a room full of amazing young people that truly believe that we can and will ‘Bring America Home.’”

 

 

Steve Thomas

Georgetown School of Nursing and Health Studies invited Steve Thomas of the Speaker’s Bureau to present in accordance with their induction ceremony, where the incoming students swear to the values of upholding the common good, and advocating for social justice, among others. “Universally, everyone in attendance was deeply moved by your presentation,” Samuel Aronson, the Assistant Director of Academic Affairs, later told NCH. “This kind of engagement is something I have never before witnessed,” Arnson said after the nursing students voluntarily gathered the next day to share their response to the presentation. One of the attendees reflected that Mr. Thomas’ “ability to bring us into his dark hour of despair and share with us the hope and kindness he thankfully found was something I will not forget.” Another shared “deep gratitude” with Mr. Thomas, “for his willingness to share his thoughts, feelings and experiences with us.” An article about the Georgetown Nursing event can be found here.

These events are just a handful of the thousands of times that NCH’s Faces of Homelessness Speaker’s Bureau has impacted audiences by allowing people who have often never interacted with people experiencing homelessness to hear what it is like, and encouraging both parties to learn and discuss what they can actively do to end it. For more information on our speakers themselves, booking a Faces of Homelessness Speaker’s Bureau event, or starting a Speaker’s Bureau in your area, please visit the Faces of Homelessness Speaker’s Bureau website.

– Adeline Pearson, Fall 2011 Intern

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