DuPage Pads Join 1,600 People at National Conference to End Homelessness
This July, leadership members of DuPagePads had the opportunity to attend the National Alliance to End Homelessness Conference in Washington, D.C, along with over 1,600 advocates from across the country focused on Ending Homelessness. The Alliance works toward ending homelessness by improving homelessness policy, building on-the-ground capacity and educating opinion leaders.
The underlying theme of the conference focused on providing supportive housing to end chronic homelessness, with specific goals of ending veteran homelessness by the end of 2015 and families and individuals by the end of 2016. DuPagePads leadership attended workshops on issues concerning homeless advocates: health, employment and Medicaid’s use for those in Supportive Housing programs. Additionally, they heard success stories of states that have made great strides in ending homelessness who stressed the importance of securing political support.
Nan Roman, President and CEO of the National Alliance to End Homelessness, offered a memorable reflection, “Now more than ever we need to act with a sense of urgency. We have a specific moral call to action – to love and respond to the poor. As imperfect as housing can be, it is still better than being homeless.”
Among the impressive list of speakers was Richard Gere, the movie star who will be featured in a new film, “Time Out of Mind,” about a homeless man with a mental illness. To prepare for the film, which will be released this September, Gere spent a day panhandling on the streets of New York. Instead of being besieged with requests for autographs and pictures, the actor collected a total of $1.50. “I was a black hole that people were terrified that they were being sucked into,” Gere reflected.
In this role, he learned the importance of connecting meaningfully with people who are homeless in order to help them off the streets and into a stable setting.
Another motivating speaker was Sister Mary Scullion from Philadelphia Project Home who is leading the Mercy and Justice Campaign to prepare for the Pope’s visit to the US in September. Sr. Mary called for “compassion and justice, human dignity for the common good and advocating for a just budget and just society.”
Those attending who represented DuPage Pads returned with even a stronger commitment to what DuPage Pads believes to be the solution to ending homelessness, that is: housing, support services and employment that lead to good health and economic sustainability.
Reflecting on the National Alzheimer’s Conference that was beginning as the National Alliance to End Homelessness was winding down, Jennifer Ho, Senior Advisor on Housing and Services for the Housing and Urban Development (HUD), provided a memorable message, “We don’t need money for scientists to discover a cure (for homelessness) – We have one and the cure is housing.”