I’m dreading going to the gym today.
At the beginning of every year, packs of “resolutionaries” flood my gym with their new year’s goals to get fit and stay in shape. As a long-time disciple of the church of exercise, my mind silently hurls obscenities at these fair-weather fretters counting their inches and pounds and crowding the cardio machines and classes for as few as four weeks.
But resolutions, when they’re manageable and achievable and honest, can be excellent goals to guide the year. With tenacity and perseverance, resolutions can help us make real, lasting changes in our lives.
So here’s what the Alliance is proposing for our new year’s resolution: we resolve to be at the table.
At a meeting hosted by our friends at the National Housing Conference late last year, I had the opportunity to listen to liberal and conservative experts discuss the midterm elections. They discussed how it was reported in the news, who won and who lost, what issues were most salient, and what it means for the future of the country. Leaders in the housing field were present to ask questions and seek insight and solicit guidance.
And while rhetoric and reason alike floated around the room, there was one comment that stuck in my mind. A conservative analyst (and I’m paraphrasing here) said this: “the housing community was simply not at the table.”
And what I think he meant was that we had not done our job to make housing and homelessness a relevant national issue.
When we consider the big issues of our day – civil rights, immigration, terrorism, environmentalism, health care – does housing and poverty pop up on that list? When you skim the news for snippets on pressing national matters, do you find an article about supportive or affordable housing? When debating with your friends about the issue that the new Congress should address first, do they mention homelessness?
I’m gonna guess no.
And yet, homelessness and housing affect everyone. Over half a million people experience homelessness on any given night; countless more experience homelessness over the course of a year. And the net gets even wider when you include people at risk: people experiencing housing cost burden, doubling up with family and friends, and facing unemployment.
It is our job, as advocates and leaders in the field, to show our friends, neighbors, and leaders that this is an issue that needs to be on the national agenda. This is an issue that faces all Americans. This is an issue in urgent need of our attention.
This year, at the Alliance, we resolve to do better. We resolve to do our part to make homelessness and housing a real, national priority. This year, we resolve to do our part to end homelessness in America.
Photo courtesy of Amodiovalerio Verde.