I am going to start off with the good news first because I know the East coast has had a rough week! We at the Alliance got a little recognition today for our work helping the The Lincoln Homeless Coalition revamp the way they serve homeless families. Which, faithful reader, you already know all about from this blog. So kudos to our CAP team! (Want the CAP team in your community? Check out the website.)
Working at the Alliance may make me biased but I was convinced even more this week about the importance of homelessness research. In order to effectively solve a problem, we must first fully understand it. And the research can be hard to swallow – like this report from Toronto – which indicates that homeless youth, particularly lesbian and bisexual women and young people of color, are overwhelmingly victims of crime. Why on earth would anyone victimize a homeless kid?
But with every cloud comes a silver lining. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) has urged members of the Senate to designate these kind of violent attacks against people experiencing homelessness as hate crimes. This act, the “Hate Crimes Against the Homeless Statistics Act,” would lead to stiffer penalties for perpetrators and mandate the collection of data on this problem – which hopefully will lead to better solutions. All this because of reports that violent attacks of this nature have been on the rise here in the United States. See how important data can be??
Speaking of research, despite overwhelming evidence and countless case studies, some people are still apprehensive about Housing First programs. Nashville has struggled with this, as well as New Orleans, this time against units that would provide permanent supportive housing. Admittedly, it’s not a popular strategy, especially for community members. But it’s one that has repeatedly demonstrated success – and it’s the best strategy we know to effectively end homelessness. And really, isn’t that what it’s all about?
Finally, the Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF) Emergency Contingency Fund (ECF) expired yesterday. The New York Times profiled a community in Tennessee that expects to be hit hard by this loss, and the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities rounded up how some states will feel the burn. This is disappointing news, but now is not the time to throw in the towel!
We know that our supporters are committed to ending homelessness – roadblocks or no roadblocks! You can still make an impact – call your senators and speak to the housing staffer. Tell them their boss should commit to restoring TANF ECF and capitalizing the Trust Fund this year. Let us know in the comments how it goes! (Find you Senators’ phone number through the congressional switchboard: 202-224-3121.)