Ending Homelessness: Change is in the Air
Last week leaders from across the country came to Seattle for the National Conference on Ending Family & Youth Homelessness. Senator Patty Murray, Jeff & Tricia Raikes, and County Executive Dow Constantine addressed the 900+ advocates, thought leaders, practitioners, and funders. Each shared words of inspiration, praise and encouragement. Most importantly, they expressed their commitment to ending homelessness.
Throughout the presentations, workshops and networking events one thing became clear to me…. our field is getting smarter about what it takes to end homelessness. We have data, tools, policies and partnerships that we didn’t have when most Ten Year Plans were developed. These new tools are the catalyst for moving the needle on family and youth homelessness. To be successful we must push harder than ever before, become more accountable for results and make big changes in the way we do business.
Here are a few examples of the change I’m talking about:
- Nan Stoops, Executive Director of the WA State Coalition Against Domestic Violence asked ” Do the services we created 35 years ago work today?” in her powerful keynote address.
- The collective partnership of government, philanthropy and providers working to address youth and young adult homeless in Seattle & King County was praised throughout the conference and is a model of doing business differently.
- David Wertheimer from The Gates Foundation summarized a collection of effective collaborations across the country.
- Not all change is good……a year ago the word “sequestration” was not in our daily vocabulary or Google alerts. As we approach March 1 and it becomes more of a reality we need to understand how it will impact of efforts to fight homelessness.
My colleagues at United Way of King County and I are looking forward to rolling up our sleeves and focusing our efforts on ending youth and family homelessness.