When I first came to Washington DC to organize a campaign for a federal response to homelessness, I never dreamt that, decades later, I’d still be fighting to end homelessness.
In 1986, when I started going to Capitol Hill to persuade Congress to take action, the response was often: “we’d like to help – good for you for taking this on – but we have an election coming up and homeless people don’t vote. Sorry.” And these were our “friends.”
But we persisted, working with a coalition of organizations and many grassroots groups from across the country. And in July 1987, we had a big victory: the first major federal law addressing homelessness – now known as the McKinney-Vento Act – was passed.
Now, 25 years later, the Act has grown and it’s accomplished much good. But the job remains unfinished. McKinney-Vento was always intended to be just a first step (it was to be followed by additional federal aid, mainly funding for permanent housing) to really end and prevent homelessness.
Now the need is again growing exponentially, just as it was in the early and mid-1980s. That’s why we’ve launched a new campaign to end and prevent homelessness. The “All-In to End Homelessness” campaign reminds us that our goal is a home for all – and that it will take all of us to win it.
We’ll also be reminding political candidates this election season that homelessness remains a crisis in their communities and in America broadly, and calling on them to commit to actions to end and prevent it. We’ll be challenging laws that prevent homeless people from voting. Stay tuned in the coming months, also, as we work with a coalition of national advocates to develop a framework local groups can use and adapt for their own advocacy.
Please join us by taking the All-in Pledge today!
– Maria Foscarinis, Executive Director