The office here at the Alliance is abuzz lately with activity concerning our upcoming National Conference to End Homelessness. And a big part of the conference is what we call Capitol Hill Day.
As a newbie with the Alliance, I wasn’t exactly clear on what the purpose of Capitol Hill Day – so I sought out Sumeet Singh, intern for our Program and Policy Associate Amanda Krusemark, who’s helping to make Capitol Hill Day happen.
So the bottom line of Capitol Hill day is to affect policy.
On Capitol Hill Day, people who are working to end homelessness meet their members of Congress. Meeting Senators and Representatives is a direct way to talk about homelessness and face-to-face meetings are particularly effective. It’s not always with a Member him or herself; sometimes it’s someone on their staff. That may seem less effective, but staffers are extremely important in influencing Members, so it works either way.
Capitol Hill Day offers a chance for people to talk directly to the officials who have the power to make decisions that affect the funding and creation of programs that help end homelessness. Sumeet also noted that Capitol Hill Day offers people a chance to establish a relationship with their Congressmen.
Anybody can come and participate in Capitol Hill Day. Groups are often lead by State Captains, people chosen to target the members of each state and to take the lead in organizing meetings. The number of State Captains is proportional to the state’s population.
For a lot of people, the experience can seem intimidating, but participants settle in quickly. Capitol Hill Day shows that officials in the government do not need to be seen as an unreachable power, but as real people serving their constituents.
This year there are 40 states represented at Capitol Hill Day, more than ever before! Registration has been strong and this year’s Capitol Hill Day promises to be successful for all our local advocates looking to make a change in the way their communities address homelessness.