Tuesday, March 28, 2017 7:20 PM
The Faces of Homelessness Speakers’ Bureau is a program of the National Coalition for the Homeless that is comprised of people who are or have been homeless and works to educate the public about homelessness and what can be done to end it. This approach is a unique and necessary tool because it establishes a significant platform for those whom homelessness affects directly to talk personally about their experiences. Additionally, the Speakers' Bureau creates opportunities for members to advocate for themselves and others, as well as build the necessary bridges with the rest of society so that we may work cooperatively to end this disgrace called homelessness.
Ending homelessness must begin with the understanding that people who are or have been homeless are our neighbors and members of our community. Public perceptions and attitudes toward persons experiencing homelessness or in danger of becoming homeless need to change in order for positive, long-term solutions to be realized. Most Americans rarely interact with people who are or who have been homeless. The lack of interaction between different groups of our society, combined with impersonal or inaccurate descriptions of homelessness posed by the media and public officials, contributes to a distancing of those who have housing from those who do not. As a result, homelessness is perceived as an abstract social problem. Those who experience homelessness are seen as the sources of their own misfortunes, and the socio-economic policies and practices that give rise to homelessness are then too easily ignored. This abstraction, in turn, lessens the degree of urgency and commitment needed to work strategically and consistently toward solutions to end homelessness that are long-term, outcome-based, and not simply responses to crises. The Speakers’ Bureau is both an accurate and dynamic tool to teach and challenge tomorrow’s leaders as well as empower those who have experienced homelessness first-hand. By fostering an environment of self-worth, respect, and understanding for all people, the Speakers’ Bureau challenges us to believe that we can and should end homelessness.