Hello everyone, I’m so excited to be blogging from my first Alliance conference! Already it has been such a wonderful two days, I have been overwhelmed meeting so many people who are all committed to ending homelessness!
Undoubtedly the highlight of the day was the keynote address by none other than Secretary Shaun Donovan of Department of Housing and Urban Development. Sec. Donovan has been a force in advancing the goal of ending homelessness. In his speech, Sec. Donovan went into greater detail about the new federal plan to end homelessness, Opening Doors, and the ways he envisions turning the goals outlined in the plan into action.
But first, the Secretary generously offered his thanks to the National Alliance to End Homelessness and, specifically, to our president Nan Roman, for her leadership in bringing the movement to end homelessness where it is today. He announced that Nan has worked with five (5!) HUD Secretaries and that he intended on being the very last one that Nan works with to end homelessness – as he intends on finishing the job!
Then the Secretary expressed how excited he was about the new federal plan. He offered a feeling of optimism and achievement, comparing the fight to end homelessness to America’s landing of a man on the moon. Like the moon landing, many people see the goal of ending homelessness as impossible or unrealistic, but also like landing on the moon, we enter this challenge armed and ready to conquer our goals, the Secretary said. We have data and new strategies, a new collaborative vision, and countless resources that we are learning to effectively share with each other. It will not happen overnight, but with hard work and planning, these tasks show themselves to be very possible.
The federal plan workshop that followed featured deputy director of the Interagency Council on Homelessness Jennifer Ho and executive director Barbara Poppe, who went over the goals and details of the federal plan and how they might affect local communities. (No worries – we’ll put up the presentation on the website as soon as it’s available.)
It was an uplifting day, hearing directly from the Secretary himself and about something that has the potential to fundamentally change the way communities address homelessness (as Sec. Donovan specifically noted). We’re hoping that the address – combined with the workshops that we’re hosting right here – will help make that happen.
And on a social note, tweeters all over the conference were proposing a meet-up either later (perhaps tomorrow?) of all interested parties for a quick and casual meet-and-greet. Anyone out there interested? Please let us know!