In lieu of the usual Friday News Roundup, today we’re celebrating Alliance news of our own. Policy intern Sam Storey leaves his Alliance internship to return to Stanford. Today, he writes about what he learned during his time here.
Alas, after two exhilarating and truly unforgettable months at the Alliance, my internship has sadly come to an end.
As my parting gift, I give you a list of the 10 things I have learned at the Alliance during my short (yet fulfilling) time here:
- Numbers matter. Without knowing the extent of a problem, what demographic is most affected, and where the affected reside, it is nearly impossible to implement effective policy and provide adequate services. That’s why high quality data and research are keys in developing solutions.
- Families play an integral role in protecting children from homelessness, and we must better incorporate them into our efforts to get youth off the streets. Family reunification – in addition to rapid re-housing and other interventions for youth – is how we end youth homelessness for good.
- Youth policy analyst Andre Wade is the best dressed in the office…or at least he is now that I’m gone.
- During these tough economic times, we must work hard to protect our most vulnerable friends and neighbors. We must protect funding for homelessness assistance and prevention programs – especially those programs that have proven to reduce homelessness. Continued advocacy is essential to ensuring that the progress toward ending homelessness continues.
- Assistant to the President Kate Seif is really good at doing crossword puzzles. My crossword puzzles, to be exact.
- Planning a meeting – let alone a conference of almost 1,500 people – is an exhaustive affair that requires organization, innovation, and patience. The staff at the Alliance does this impressive work year after year to plan the National Conference on Ending Homelessness, which I was proud to be a part of this summer.
- The commercial sexual exploitation of youth inexorably intersects with youth homelessness. Service providers and policy advocates can protect victims of sexual exploitation by working to ensure access to the health and housing services they require.
- The solution to homelessness is housing. It’s so simple, it’s remarkable. While homelessness often involves a host of other pressing social issues – mental health, veterans affairs, welfare, poverty – the solution to homelessness couldn’t be simpler. The faster you can house a homeless person, the faster you can end their homelessness.
- Homelessness among LGBTQ youth in America is a serious and problem – and we’re working on learning more about it. So far, we know that one contributing factor is family rejection, which LGBTQ youth tend to face more often than their non-LGBTQ peers. If we ever hope to end LGBTQ youth homelessness, we need to focus on preserving families.
- The homeless assistance community is undoubtedly the most passionate, dedicated, and selfless I have ever met – and I am honored to have been a part of this community and this organization. This summer has been one of the most fulfilling and rewarding of my young life.