Community & Behavioral Health | Recovery | Social Change

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Changing the Conversation

Jeff Olivet

Jeff Olivet
Jeff Olivet is the CEO at the Center for Social Innovation. He is a national leader on homelessness, poverty, affordable housing, behavioral health, public health, and HIV. He has been a street outreach worker, case manager, housing director, coalition builder, writer, teacher, and activist. Jeff is a recognized expert in bringing innovative technologies and solutions to complex social problems.
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Recent Posts

Courage in Times of Chaos

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I was asked recently to give a talk to a group of homeless service providers and advocates on “Courage in Times of Uncertainty.” In preparing, I realized there was no way I could address that subject. I believe fundamentally that we are not in times of uncertainty, but times of chaos. Each day in America, the headlines overwhelm us. Horrific school shootings. Escalating threats of nuclear war. Tax cuts for the wealthiest among us. People dying daily from opiate overdoses. Profound disrespect for women, immigrants, people of color, and LGBTQ people. Willful ignorance about climate change. Rampant homelessness and a public that has become used to it.

Chaos.

In the face of such chaos, our national leaders have abdicated their responsibility to guide and protect the nation and its people. In some cases, they are guilty of neglect. In just as many, they are guilty of cheerleading race hatred and dissension. In other words, it is not just that they refuse to fix the problem; they are the problem.

How should we respond?

It is all too easy to feel paralyzed—to wait, to bide our time—but we do not have that luxury. It is critical not to be discouraged. There is too much work to do.

Too Much Hatred, Too Much Violence

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It is with great sadness, and with great anger, that I write a few brief words about the tragic shooting Sunday night in Las Vegas. At least 59 people have been reported dead and more than 500 injured, making it the deadliest mass shooting in American history.

We should all hold the victims and their loved ones in our thoughts, in our hearts, in our minds, in our prayers, in our silence...not just today, but in the days ahead and in the years ahead. We should hold alongside them all victims of past shootings--Pulse Nightclub, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook Elementary School, Mother Emanuel Church, and all the others. Long after these events leave the front page of the nation's papers and the crawlers across the bottom of the TV screens, family and friends of those dead continue to mourn. The accumulation of pain and loss is staggering.

Coming Together to Address Racism & Homelessness

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This blog is the transcript of a talk delivered by Jeff Olivet in San Francisco on October 17, 2016 at the kickoff of the Center for Social Innovation’s national racism and homelessness initiative, SPARC (Supporting Partnerships for Anti-Racist Communities).

When I began as a street outreach worker two decades ago, I was told that homelessness was a problem of affordable housing. It certainly is that. I was also told it was a problem with access to mental health care, addiction treatment, and healthcare for all. In some ways, it certainly is that also. The impression we got was that homelessness was somehow a type of person, a personal failing, or a choice...all of the stereotypes that each of you hears in your everyday work.

It soon became very clear to me that there is something more going on.

Open Our Eyes, Open Our Mouths: Do Something about Racism & Homelessness

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This blog is taken from a transcript of a talk given by Jeff Olivet at the African Meeting House in Boston on April 14, 2016, in which Jeff was joined by Marc Dones from the Center for Social Innovation and Massachusetts Commissioner of Public Health, Dr. Monica Bharel.

We Have a Problem
What an amazing thing to be in this place. A place where powerful voices and powerful leaders and powerful thinkers and powerful activists have changed the world...abolished slavery...fought for equality and human rights. It is a profound experience to stand up here at this podium. And it’s hard for me to say, but I’m here to tell you that we’ve got a problem. We got a problem that we don’t talk about a lot, so we’re going to talk about it now.