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Posts Tagged ‘Michael Stoops’

Michael Stoops

Written by Annie Leomporra on . Posted in Uncategorized

The Board and staff of the National Coalition for the Homeless are heartbroken to share the passing of long-time organizer Michael Stoops. Michael passed away on May 1, 2017, due to illness incurred while recovering from a stroke.

collageThere will never be anyone like Michael, with his dedication to others, his tenacity, his quiet leadership and quirky humor. We all loved Michael as a mentor, a colleague, a brother and a friend.

Michael began his career in the early 1970’s, after receiving his bachelor’s degree in social work. His Quaker community encouraged him to travel from his native Indiana to Portland, Oregon to assist veterans. This is where Michael found his passion for ending homelessness. He was a founding board member of NCH, and joined NCH’s staff in 1988. Since 1988, he has worked to establish and provide ongoing support to local/statewide homeless/housing coalitions, and homeless self-help and social justice/action groups. In 2004, Mr. Stoops took on the role of Executive Director of NCH. Working to mobilize NCH’s grassroots network, Mr. Stoops traveled nationwide giving workshops, providing technical assistance, and testifying before state and local legislatures. Mr. Stoops was one of the founding members of the North American Street Newspaper Association and served as Board Member of Street Sense, Washington, DC’s premier street newspaper.

We will all remember Michael as a caring friend to each one of us. He has mentored us, and thousands of other advocates across the country. Michael could see potential, and did not waste time in getting us all to work. He has been steady, being the rock of NCH, through financial, political and personnel upheavals. Though he might have cut you short, he returned every call he ever received. He made time for each and every student doing research, for every mother crying because she couldn’t find shelter for her family, for every filmmaker wanting to make a difference, for each traveler who happened upon our office looking for help, and for every advocate looking for a way to fight for change. For many of us, Michael was a super hero. For the 10 years that I have had the honor to know Michael, he has worked 12 hour days, 7 days a week. We could never get him to go home to rest, and he would at most take off one week a year to go visit his family (stopping at shelters and visiting advocates all along the way).

This is the Michael Stoops that we know, the Michael Stoops who we will remember lovingly, and the Michael Stoops who will continue to inspire us to work tirelessly until all of our neighbors, friends or family can sleep safely in their own homes. Rest in power Michael, we will keep the fight going.

-Megan Hustings, NCH Director

A Memorial will be held Thursday May 25, 2017 at 12:00p.m. at the Church of the Pilgrims, 2201 P Street, NW Washington, DC (map). A reception will follow in the church fellowship hall.

In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the National Coalition for the Homeless. Memorial organizers would appreciate any photos or stories you would like to share. Please email them to info@nationalhomeless.org.

Michael Stoops

Written by admin on . Posted in Advocacy

We are sad to report that Michael Stoops, Director of Community Organizing, is on medical leave as of June 10, 2015. We ask that Michael’s privacy be respected during this difficult time.

Michael and MitchMichael has been a driving force towards ending homelessness for more than 30 years. He has touched so many lives in his tireless work on behalf of those experiencing extreme poverty.

We also ask for your patience as our responses to inquiries about NCH programs and activities may be delayed.

 

No Picnic in the Park

Written by NCH Staff on . Posted in Awareness, Community Organizing, Criminalization, Food Sharing

Don’t Even Think About Having a Picnic in the Park, by Michael Stoops, Director of Community Organizing

We are facing a moral crisis. Cities pursuing higher tourism revenues and greater economic development have declared a war on their poor residents. Unfortunately, it is perceived that those who are living without homes effectively “taint” the scenic vistas and make visitors uncomfortable. More than ever, tourism hot-spots are targeting people who are homeless by passing laws that force them to the outskirts of town or into jails. Popular destinations often treat these individuals like riff-raff and criminals, arresting them for menial crimes in an effort to keep them from unconsciously photo-bombing a couple’s photo of their trip.

When the economy is so reliant on tourism dollars, it is natural for a local government or tourism board to take complaints seriously. Often times, tourists complain that they feel unsafe or uncomfortable around homeless individuals. The reputation of a destination can be tarnished so quickly, it is almost remarkable to see how agile governments can be in responding to economic threats. They generally first introduce bans to keep people from sleeping in the most visited parts of town. Sometimes they will open up a resource center far from the center of town to try to lure homeless people away from the hot spots. Sadly, more often they will enact numerous so-called “quality of life” laws that they can use to round up and jail homeless individuals in periodic sweeps. Some examples of laws that are in place are bans on sitting on a sidewalk or sleeping in a park, bans on begging or panhandling, and prohibition of the use of blankets, chairs, tents, pillows, etc.

We all know the detrimental impacts a criminal record can have on the futures of low-income individuals. Being locked-up can preclude a homeless individual from ever being able to find future employment or stable housing, leaving them exposed and likely to get swept up in this broken system all over again.

These efforts even extend to those who are trying to help. 39 US cities actively punish individuals and groups that operate food-sharing programs, trying to offer their homeless neighbors basic sustenance. In Fort Lauderdale, Arnold Abbott, a 91-year-old World War 2 Veteran who has been running a food-sharing program twice a week for 24 years, has been wrapped up in these issues for years. Despite a court victory in the 1990s, protecting his religious freedom to feed those in need, he has received three court summons since the passage of the City’s latest anti-homeless law in October. With the threat of $1,500 in fines and up to 180 days in jail, he continues to support his homeless neighbors, acknowledging the importance of a consistent program that meets them where they are to minimize the challenges associated with receiving proper nutrition. He maintains that he has the constitutional right to continue preparing meals and will continue to do so despite any personal consequences.

When showing compassion becomes illegal, we know we have a serious problem to tackle. The perception of poverty in places like Fort Lauderdale is so tainted with generalizations and assumptions that almost no person who is down on his/her luck has a chance. Communities that pass these inhumane laws are not apt to take proactive solutions and give people a chance. They react to bad stigmas and punish people for trying to survive. If we cannot appeal to them on a human level, we must take a broader stance and try to communicate just how little we stand for this type of injustice. We must make these cities feel the consequences of these inhumane actions.

Students Promoting Fairness

We at the National Coalition for the Homeless are calling on all conscientious citizens to pledge that they will not invest in this kind of discrimination. Our expectations of poverty-free clean beaches are unrealistic and encourage unjust practices. Recently, we have seen increased interest in eco-tourism and other forms of environmentally sustainable travel; the time has come to support conscious consumers who elect to travel to respectful and compassionate destinations. As tourists, we must all put people first and consider the human consequences of our decisions.

Fort Lauderdale has been one of the most egregious culprits. The city rapidly passed the largest number of bans in one year that I have ever seen, culminating with its infamous food-sharing restrictions. In the uproar, following the City’s decision to essentially ban compassion, thousands of individuals have stepped up and taken action. College students have pledged to not spend their spring breaks in this town that mistreats its do-gooders and its vulnerable citizens. They are committed to selecting destinations with more moral integrity. We hope that companies too will vow not to host meetings in a place that has arrested a ninety-one year old on multiple occasions for sharing food with the homeless population. We will all choose fairness over everything!

Join our pledge!

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