By Jenna Bolyarde, Alliance Consumer Advisory Board member.
The National Alliance to End Homelessness exists to find a way to end homelessness, and they are uniquely situated to do so. The organization’s use of research, policy, and technical assistance has already helped bring about reductions in homelessness, and has helped secure historic increases in resources for people experiencing homelessness and housing insecurity.
Their work has been incredibly valuable in the recognition and communication of successful problem-solving tactics to and from different communities across the U.S. From rural and suburban settings to the middle of densely populated cities, the Alliance has their finger on the pulse of the front lines as well as the boardrooms making the decisions surrounding this epidemic. They recognize the importance of being creative and fast acting in providing services to the most vulnerable of us, all while holding a space for our homeless population to maintain their dignity and say in the services that they receive. I can say this with certainty, having both been homeless myself and provided services for the homeless in my community, and witnessing the benefits of the Alliance’s work firsthand. Tackling homelessness the way the Alliance does is a big job, and takes a lot of support. The successes brought forth by the Alliance’s work are firmly due to the friendship, partnership, and personal investment of those who support the cause.
Witnessing the Alliance’s Impacts Firsthand
I am a member of a community which ran high barrier shelters (which means local people in need of shelter had to meet several requirements before they could get it) and an uncoordinated housing system. I also served as a member of my local Continuum of Care Board as someone with lived experience of homelessness. The lived experience seat was a relatively new position when I first began occupying it, and it gave me a front row seat to watching the Alliance work.
My community brought the Alliance in to evaluate the way our system was operating, or not operating for that matter. Alliance staff studied the way that homelessness was addressed in my community and gave pragmatic and insightful suggestions as to how to better organize ourselves so that we would best be able to serve the homeless population. In their process, Alliance staff immediately valued my opinion and sought me out to participate in their own Consumer Advisory Board. My community has implemented the Alliance’s suggestions and created a robust homeless system which is flexible enough to meet the needs of its community. The insight I was given by watching the process, in conjunction with the lived experience that I possessed, placed me in a position to be able to manage our housing programs and give back to the community that had given me so much.
Continuing This Progress
Work like this is made possible through the generosity of the Alliance’s supporters.
The Alliance’s work to end homelessness is a year-round effort, one I have seen firsthand. Its approach is refreshing and needed in the highly politicized arena of homelessness. Its dedication to ending homelessness by using data, education, and technical assistance is refreshing and necessary if we are going to find a reliable answer to the question of how to end homelessness. And the Alliance’s ability to gather and disseminate these learnings to communities across the country is unparalleled. The support of donors – especially in this season of giving – can help continue to make that a reality. Having been there myself, I know how much of an impact it makes.