The annual conference of the National Alliance to End Homelessness is happening this week. For more than a decade I have been here presenting. I have seen the conference grow through several hotels that could accommodate the increased demand for the conference and what it has to offer. I have seen superstars within the sector stay with it as long as I have, and seen others come and go.
For years, this conference has been the re-energizer that I need to keep going in this work. There is something infectious about the passion of others, and really uplifting when you see and hear the results that are being reached.
At the opening plenary this year, I was really struck by the fact that homelessness has gone down in all population groups across the country, while at the same time rents have gone up 21% and wages amongst the poorest have gone down. In other words, there is no reason why homelessness should be decreasing, yet it is.
How is this possible? What does it mean?
To me, it means that the overall perspective of homelessness as something that can be ended has taken hold.
To me, it means that knowledge and skills within service providers has improved.
To me, it means that there is a steadfast resolve to tackle problems and fix them rather than coming up with excuses of what cannot be done.
To me, it means that we have seen a shift in leadership that promotes ending homelessness rather than perpetuating therapeutic incarceration.
I am so grateful to be here again, share what I know, and learn from others. I hope and some point in my lifetime this conference is no longer necessary. But until that time, there is no place I would rather be when the conference is happening.