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This blog is dedicated to distribute current information about the Coalition for the Homeless in Cleveland or poverty or the state of homelessness. Entries are written by board or staff of the Coalition. The opinions contained in this blog reflect the views of the author of the post. This blog features information on shelters, affordable housing, profiles, statistics, trends, and upcoming events relating to homelessness. We welcome comments, and will remove offensive or inappropriate messages. All postings are signed by the author.

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Monday
Apr282014

National Coalition for the Homeless Updates

The National Coalition for the Homeless has a new director, a new website, some new Board members and a renewed focus on community organizing and building a movement around housing and homelessness.  There are so many national groups focused on homelessness, but NCH has a 30 year history of focusing on Civil Rights and representing the interests of those living in shelters or on the streets.  They have a strong past including leading the passage of the McKinney Vento legislation that protects homeless children and funds all the shelters.  They have fought against laws directed at homeless people and raised awareness about hate crimes against those who spend time sleeping outside. 

It has been a rough few years for NCH with the downturn and a hostile administration who turned their back on poor people to focus on only the longest serving homeless people.  For most of the last 10 years even during the toughest times, NCH has made a commitment to dispelling the myths about homelessness with a speaker's bureau.  They had done presentations to tens of thousands of people over the years.  They have trained homeless and formerly homeless people to speak about their experiences and then they schedule them to speak before student groups and religious organizations.  These speakers answer questions and talk about their experiences in shelters, on waiting lists and trying to find help.   They help groups with alternative spring breaks to learn about homelessness by spending a few days on the streets of Washington.  They try to educate national groups about homelessness through people with first hand experience.  The goal is that we have done a horrible job in solving homelessness over the last 40 years in moving forward on solutions, and if we can teach the next generation why there are so many homeless maybe they will be able to solve this problem. 

A few new initiatives the staff are working on pushing is an expansion of the number of beds for homeless youth in the United States.  This goes along the lines of the hoodied mannequins placed around downtown Cleveland to raise awareness of the problem of homeless youth.  In much of the country, there are no beds available to homeless young people.  We are fortunate to have the VOA shelter for 18-24 year old males, and the LMM shelter for runaways.  In addition, we have Bellefaire working on building relationships with homeless youth who are moving from couch to couch.  NCH wants to protect the existing resources for homeless youth and expand significantly shelter space in America.

They are also working to restore housing vouchers in the United States.  The voucher program has been decimated over the last five years with budget cuts and Sequestration.  There is not much support in Washington for the voucher program and a great deal of misunderstanding about the program.  NCH wants to see an expansion of housing vouchers as a part of the solutions to homelessness in America.  NCH is also continuing its work on the rights of everyone to have access to shelter and working to supporting efforts to pass "Homleess Bills of Rights" across the country.

They could use your help.  NCH is a membership organization and could use your help in supporting this agenda.  If you care about finding solutions to homelessness in the United States, the National Coalition has a proven track record and the leadership to move forward on public policy that will lead to a reduction in homelessness. 

Brian

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