A national network of funders supporting strategic, innovative, and effective solutions to homelessness

Is There Ever a Good Day to be Homeless?

I’m sure it was the warm sunny weather or a pre-April Fool’s Day idea of a joke but a tweet on Twitter caught my attention yesterday. “Today would be a great day to be homeless."

I’m sure it was the warm sunny weather or a pre-April Fool’s Day idea of a joke but a tweet on Twitter caught my attention yesterday. Actually it wasn’t from someone I know or follow – it was in the parlance of Twitter a “retweet” or a post that someone reposts. Nonetheless it read: “Today would be a great day to be homeless.”

It was retweeted by more than one person so I can only assume it was found to be humorous. Now for those who know me even slightly know that I have a good sense of humor and I can say that unabashedly. I find humor in many things and situations. I find that many times humor helps to soften the harshness of a message, break the ice in a tense situation and may allow people to just simply laugh.

However, I find no humor in this tweet whatsoever. Even with the sun shining and warm temperatures thawing our winter weary souls, there is never a great day to be homeless.

The Foundation has for many years been steeped in efforts addressing the problems surrounding homelessness, affordable housing and all things relating to providing needed services to those most in need. Laurie Craft, a program director at the Foundation, is currently chairing the Coalition to End Homelessness which is led by Janay Brower who is steadfast in her “vision” to create the community conditions to eliminate or at least reduce the incidence of homelessness.

Now I have to confess that when the Vision to End Homelessness was initiated many years ago, the predecessor effort to the Coalition, I thought that ending homelessness was a pipe dream rather like “alleviating poverty” as the issue is so very complex. The GRCF staff boldly ignored my nay saying and become quite involved in this and we funded much of the planning that went into the Vision which has now morphed into the Coalition.

I’m pleased to say that the GRCF staff were right and I was just plain wrong. They were exercising excellent community leadership skills! Janay will be announcing some impressive statistics soon. Suffice it to say the Coalition along with the timely infusion of funding through the Essential Needs Task Force Fund created by a group of 17 foundations last year has made some significant inroads in addressing the complex issue of homelessness.

As an example in calendar year 2009, 5,118 persons experienced homelessness in Kent County. This represents a 15% decrease from the 6,022 persons reported in 2008. Not a trend quite yet but frankly I’ll take it! And there is much more strong impact news on the horizon.

My message is simply this – regardless of the weather, there is never a good day to be homeless.

Diana Sieger, Grand Rapids Community Foundation

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We joined Funders Together because we believe in the power of philanthropy to play a major role in ending homelessness, and we know we have much to learn from funders across the country.

-Christine Marge, Director of Housing and Financial Stability at United Way of Greater Los Angeles

I am thankful for the local partnerships here in the Pacific Northwest that we’ve been able to create and nurture thanks to the work of Funders Together. Having so many of the right players at the table makes our conversations – and all of our efforts – all the richer and more effective.

-David Wertheimer, Deputy Director at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Very often a lack of jobs and money is not the cause of poverty, but the symptom. The cause may lie deeper in our failure to give our fellow citizens a fair chance to develop their own capacities, in a lack of education and training, in a lack of medical care and housing, in a lack of decent communities in which to live and bring up their children.

-President Lyndon B. Johnson, 1964 State of the Union Address

Funders Together has given me a platform to engage the other funders in my community. Our local funding community has improved greatly to support housing first models and align of resources towards ending homelessness.

-Leslie Strnisha, Vice President at Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland

Our family foundation convenes local funders and key community stakeholders around strategies to end homelessness in Houston. Funders Together members have been invaluable mentors to us in this effort, traveling to our community to share their expertise and examples of best practices from around the nation.

-Nancy Frees Fountain, Managing Director at The Frees Foundation

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