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

Honoring Jordan Neely and Banko Brown with Action on Housing Justice for All

Last week, Jordan Neely, a 30-year old Black man, was murdered while pleading for help and experiencing homelessness in New York City. Days earlier, Banko Brown, a 24-year old transgender Black man and organizer, was killed when suspected of shoplifting. 

We will name it: These murders are a result of policy choices rooted in white supremacy.

In the words of Jawanza James Williams, Director of Organizing at VOCAL-NY:

"The murder of Jordan Neely is a direct result of the sustained, political, systemic abandonment and dehumanization of people experiencing homelessness and mental health complexities, fueled by press coverage that clearly influences policies and emboldens vigilantes.”

In the days since their deaths – and despite the fact that neither city has provided ample adequate shelter, housing, health care, or supportive services for people experiencing homelessness – some are quick to blame the victims and amplify calls for involuntary commitment and incarceration.

Meanwhile in Congress, House leadership has seized the debt ceiling limit to begin pushing for devastating budget cuts that would ensure more people are as desperate and vulnerable as Mr. Neely and Mr. Brown were in their final moments. Cuts to resources for critical and life-saving programs and services, while many are still trying to recover from a pandemic, will result in harm to our neighbors and cost lives. This is an active choice being made by our country’s leadership.

Despite our national wealth and abundance, politicians blatantly fail historically marginalized communities time and again, crafting budgets and pursuing negotiations to determine who is and is not deserving of life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and the protection of justice in America. Inaction to stop this is also a choice.

Direct, anti-racist action in response to the murders of Jordan Neely and Banko Brown can take many forms, but maintaining the status quo – in our advocacy, programs, grantmaking, and in both our professional and personal lives – will only ensure that we see more premature and unjust deaths.

This is not an official statement from Funders Together. Statements without action are empty and performative. Instead, we are living out our values by intentionally ceding power to center the voices of activists and people with lived experience and by supporting efforts they are leading. This is a call to action for philanthropy to do the same.

Philanthropy must commit to elevating and resourcing the demands and needs that Black, Indigenous, people of color, and LGBTQ+ communities and organizers have been calling for all along. We have the responsibility to hold our partners and elected officials accountable in the connection between policy happenings, like proposed budget cuts to social programs, and the continual violence against people experiencing homelessness. And equally as important, we need to abundantly fund the fight - and recovery - for justice.

True justice and liberation would mean that Jordan Neely and Banko Brown are alive today and thriving in a community that doesn’t leave their basic needs unmet or ignored. We must strengthen our pursuit of housing justice for all, in honor of those we’ve lost.

Amanda Andere
Funders Together to End Homelessness

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  • Amanda Andere
    published this page in Blog 2023-05-12 14:33:47 -0400

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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