In the Funders Together to End Homelessness 2017 “Four Cities” study, two of the top five success drivers in cities that significantly reduced homelessness were Political Will and Public Opinion. In order to build more political will and influence public opinion, Funders Together to End Homelessness San Diego recently awarded $120,000 to two programs that build advocacy capacity.
Voices of Our City Choir & Think Dignity’s Real Time Advocacy program will train 10 – 15 advocates to speak on behalf of our unsheltered neighbors. This program will build upon Voices’ advocacy work of testifying at city halls, hosting candidate forums, and telling their stories through music and press conferences. Voices was founded two years ago to transform the perception and experience of homelessness through the healing power of art. They build bridges connecting diverse communities in positive ways through musical performance, advocacy and education. Think Dignity works to advance basic dignity for people living on the streets through legal services and trainings.
The coalition of San Diego Housing Federation, CSH & Alliance for Regional Solutions have joined together to create the HEAL Network. This program seeks to create and establish a network of trained leaders with lived experience of homelessness to be advocates on policy discussions regarding solutions to homelessness. Through peer-to-peer support and expansion of the Network, these leaders will influence decision-makers and be an important voice for proven solutions to prevent and end homelessness. Their goal is to provide a framework to bring these voices into critical local discussions in a meaningful and impactful way to elevate the discussion, emphasize the humanity of the affected individuals, and to move public policies toward strategies that are more focused on the individuals who are subjects of this crisis.
While civic leaders and politicians debate solutions to homelessness, the voices that are missing are those of people who actually have lived experience of being homeless. These advocacy grants will bring more people into the public discourse and amplify the voices of those with first-hand knowledge of what actually works to end homelessness.
For more information about this and other Funders Together projects, contact Amy Denhart.