One of the most powerful ways to influence public policy to prevent and end homelessness is advocacy. Advocacy efforts, on both a local and national level, not only raises awareness but helps increase and secure new resources. Because policymakers are often disconnected and unaware of the issues faced by those who experience homelessness, policy responses often fall short. As such, service providers and other members of the homeless sector are critical to advocacy efforts, as they are informed on the special needs and challenges faced by those who experience homelessness and able to effectively communicate and prioritize those needs. The National Alliance to End Homelessness, an organization committed to preventing and ending homelessness in the United States, constructed a toolkit for understanding and conducting advocacy to end homelessness. For service providers and members of the homeless sector, this toolkit provides helpful information on: understanding the policymaking process; strategies for the development of advocacy plans; ways to build congressional relationships; how to engage the media; and ways to mobilize others. To access the ‘Using Advocacy to End Homelessness’ toolkit, visit: https://endhomelessness.org/resource/using-advocacy-to-end-homelessness/
CITATION: Using Advocacy to End Homelessness. National Alliance to End Homelessness. (2018, October 18). https://endhomelessness.org/resource/using-advocacy-to-end-homelessness.
To spark change and effectively prevent and end homelessness, there must be a shift in policies and priorities. Recognizing the amount of collective action needed to truly change the lives of people experiencing homelessness, “Destination HOME” was organized. Destination HOME is a public-private partnership that serves as the integral organization for collective impact strategies to end homelessness within its community (Santa Clara County, California). Through partnerships and collective actions, the organization has: helped over 8,000 people resolve their homelessness; doubled the number of supporting housing units; launched a homeless prevention system; successfully led a community-wide campaign that housed over 1,600 veterans; and aided in the approval of a $950 million bond to develop affordable housing. With the mission of creating more supportive housing units, expanding homeless prevention strategies, and enhancing the ways in which supportive housing helps those experiencing homelessness, the organization created a five year ‘Community Plan to End Homelessness’. Developed from evidence-based practices and the input of people with lived experiences, experts, key stakeholders and community members, the plan outlines the strategies and action steps to reduce and eliminate homelessness within that community. Destination HOME, like other organizations, illustrates the impact collective action can have on ending and preventing homelessness for all. To track the organization’s progress, learn more about its collective efforts and access its five year strategic plan to prevent and end homelessness, visit https://destinationhomesv.org/end-homelessness/
CITATION: The 2020-2025 Community Plan to End Homelessness ” Destination: Home. Destination. (n.d.). https://destinationhomesv.org/end-homelessness/.
One of the most essential tools in the fight to end homelessness is advocacy. Being an advocate is not a one size fits all approach. Voicing the concerns and needs of people experiencing homelessness, promoting legislative change, or informing the community on what it means to be homeless are just some of the many routes of advocating. However, the best advocacy has a clear audience, focused message, and specific goals. The National Center on Family Homelessness drafted a five step guide to help service providers participate in advocacy activities. The five steps are as follows: 1. Identify your target audience and message; 2. Do your research; 3. Communicate your message effectively; 4. Build relationships; 5. Contact policymakers. To learn more on becoming an advocate, please visit https://www.air.org/sites/default/files/February%202012%20-%20Advocating%20to%20End%20
CITATION: Coupe, Natalie. “Advocating to End Child and Family Homelessness: Five Easy Steps.” The National Center on Family Homelessness. The National Center on Family Homelessness, February 2012. https://www.air.org/sites/default/files/February%202012%20-%20Advocating%20to%20End%20Child%20and%20Family%20Homelessness%20-%20Five%20Easy%20Steps.pdf.
Vital to create change, the power of advocacy is uncontested. Deeply rooted in influencing public policy, nonprofit advocacy has lifted and amplified the voice of those who are unheard. The National Council of Nonprofits has put together a guide for nonprofit organizations on the importance of advocacy and the various ways an organization can advance its mission through everyday advocacy. Included in this guide are: the distinction between advocacy and lobbying; case studies on fundamental reforms; resources from toolkits and books to government reports and informative “how to” sheets; and the federal laws protecting nonprofit advocacy. If you are interested in learning more about everyday advocacy, please visit https://www.councilofnonprofits.org/everyday-advocacy-resources.