Community & Behavioral Health | Recovery | Social Change

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Changing the Conversation

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.

Racism & Homelessness: Justice is Not Something You Pray For. It’s Something You Implement.

These remarks were delivered by Marc Dones [MD] and Jeff Olivet [JO] of the Center for Social Innovation at the National Conference on Ending Homelessness in Washington, DC on July 18, 2017 in response to U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson’s address.

MD: Data drives specific and appropriate responses. And our national understanding of homelessness has been missing a critical dimension. There is a blind spot in our collective analysis, and therefore in our collective response. Our local and national strategies to end homelessness have not acknowledged the racial realities of homelessness—that structural racism is a major driver of homelessness. [Read more about "Fixing the Structural Causes of Homelessness."]

4 Simple Ways to End Homelessness

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Our national consciousness has shifted in recent years from “managing homelessness” to “ending homelessness.” Federal, state, and local policies have focused on specific subgroups, such as veterans, people experiencing “chronic homelessness,” and, more recently, families and youth. In many communities, these efforts have been useful in bringing together new partners, galvanizing public and private support, and shaping public awareness of what it takes to end homelessness.