Communities Mobilize Nationwide to End Homelessness

            On June 16, 2003, members of Lakewood city council passed a resolution urging Congress to pass the Bring America Home Act, which would go a long way to ending homelessness. This is part of a national day of housing action to Bring America Home. 38 cities held similar actions across the nation to bring national attention to the issues of affordable housing, health care, and homelessness in their communities. Local homeless activists are also asking voters to urge Congresswomen Stephanie Tubbs Jones and Sherrod Brown to endorse this legislation. Congressman Dennis Kucinich had already signed on as a co-sponsor.

            In the United States, 3.5 million people – almost 40 percent of them children – experience homelessness each year. There are 25,000 people homeless every year in Cleveland and 3,800 people on the streets every night. Many of these individuals work, but due to high rents, tight rental markets, and low paying jobs, they have found themselves living on the streets, in cars, in shelters, in abandoned buildings, in motels, or in over-crowded, temporary accommodations with others.

            Councilman Dennis Dunn of Lakewood introduced the legislation at the June 16, 2003 Lakewood City Council meeting. Activists were on hand to speak in support of the legislation including residents of Lakewood. This inner ring suburb became only the second city in the nation to endorse the Bring America Home campaign and the first in Ohio.

            The current economic downturn puts even more Americans one paycheck, one illness, or one rent hike away from homelessness. Today, a worker making minimum wage cannot afford housing at a fair market rate anywhere in the United States. In fact, in Cuyahoga County, a worker must make $11.29 per hour to afford a one-bedroom apartment at a fair market rate.

            The Bring Home America Campaign is national, broad-based initiative dedicated to the goal of ending homelessness. The Campaign is founded on the principles that people need affordable housing, livable incomes, health care, education, and protection of their civil rights. It is composed of a variety of efforts that address these causes of homelessness, including the Bringing America Home Act.

            “This Campaign is crucial to assisting people who are homeless or near homelessness,” said Donald Whitehead, Executive Director of the National Coalition for the Homeless. “It would end the disgrace of the worst form of poverty in the richest nation in the world. It’s time for Americans to take a stand to help our most vulnerable citizens. It’s time to Bring American Home.” Editor’s Note: For more information on the Bringing American Home Campaign, see the website: www.bringingamericahome.org.

Copyright to the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless and the Homeless Grapevine Cleveland Ohio 2003.