Going to the White House Today

Today I am going to the White House.

On July 9 I got the invite. Had the White House logo on it and everything. I admit, my first thoughts were of watching the West Wing. Then I wondered when/if I will ever be invited to Canadian Parliament. Then I thought about just how AWESOME this is going to be.

I was invited because of the work I have done with Community Solutions. The Community Solutions gang is pretty fantastic. They have coalesced community after community in working towards ending homelessness by focusing on the most vulnerable people first. They reached the goal of housing 100,000 people through the Campaign. They bucked the trend of excuses and the status quo. They rocked boats. They got things done. They are my kind of people.


Somewhere in the spring of 2013, we began the partnership between Community Solutions and OrgCode…though I had known people like Becky for many years before. The VI-SPDAT is the reason I am going to the White House, which is the triage tool that came about when the Vulnerability Index was merged with the Prescreen Service Prioritization Decision Assistance Tool. The VI-SPDAT is jointly owned by Community Solutions and OrgCode, though made available for free to whomever wants it.

Odd the road that life leads you down to get to a place like this.

There would be no VI-SPDAT if there was never a SPDAT. And there would never be a SPDAT if I had never gone into consulting. Life unravels in mysterious ways…and I am lucky to keep taking the journey, often without the benefit of experience first.

Guys like me do not get invited to the White House.

I do not wear suits (though I need to at the White House). I do not get things right the first time – in fact I screw up a lot the first time. I am remarkably flawed. I have a colourful history that I am not always proud of. I have learned from my shortcomings and flaws, but I have not conquered them all. And here I am, going to the White House.

I need to thank the Community Solutions group for putting me on the invite list. I am enormously honoured and grateful.

There are other people to thank for making this happen too – and at the top of this list are the thousands of homeless and formerly homeless people I have met with over the years that have provided the feedback necessary for me to be an effective practitioner, advocate, consultant, educator, policy advisor – and a more decent human being. I learn the most from those impacted the most by the things I do each and every day. There is an expression in the mental health community that I love, “Nothing about us without us” – and without each homeless person that has given me the privilege of learning from their experience neither the SPDAT nor this trip to the White House would be happening.

About Iain De Jong

Leader. Edutainer. Coach. Consultant. Professor. Researcher. Blogger. Do-gooder. Potty mouth. Positive disruptor. Relentless advocate for social justice. Comedian. Dad. Minimalist. Recovering musician. Canadian citizen. International jetsetter. Living life in jeans and a t-shirt. Trying really hard to end homelessness in developed countries around the world, expand harm reduction practices, make housing happen, and reform the justice system. Driven by change, fuelled by passion. Winner of a shit ton of prestigious awards, none of which matter unless change happens in how we think about vulnerability, marginality, and inclusion.

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