the year 2016 will be remembered for many things in the homeless advocacy world, but one thing that will be high on the list again is our seemingly surprised reaction to the fact that homelessness has not been significantly reduced in this country. despite record low unemployment, a record high stock exchange, a seemingly booming economy and the highest accumulated wealth this country as ever seen, we have made no major inroads into bringing homelessness to a manageable level despite what we want to call our best efforts. we should be embarrassed and maybe somewhat ashamed that the results were as negligible as they were. despite predictions and proclamations from various cities that progress had been made and homelessness had been reduced, the data and numbers coming from the pit count says otherwise. the over capacity missions and shelters speak the truth. no city was left untouched and no area of the country was spared. we continued in 2016 to follow programs that have not been working. we continued to rely on a very distant federal government to guide, mandate and fund us into following programs that were not effective, not cost efficient and did not relieve the daily struggle of the homeless much, if any.
we now enter into a new year with a republican congress, a republican senate, a republican president, a majority of republican governors and a very large majority of republican state legislators. republicans...who are known for austerity, budget cutting and slashing programs, particularly social safety net programs to accomplish their budget balancing agenda. we are entering into an era of defunding programs and grant cuts like we haven't seen in decades. we will now be forced to rethink how we do a lot of things without sacrificing our ultimate goal or our mission of ending homelessness. we will have to reshape, rethink and reorganize our efforts in fighting homelessness like we've never done before. suddenly we do not know what is going to happen, how much is going to happen or when and if it will happen. truthfully we probably never did know. we dug ourselves into various sides of the homeless battle and played self serving games with peoples lives and well being. we ignored the obvious facts that what we were doing wasn't working and the directions we were taking were leading in circles.we now must reorganize ourselves and fill our advocacies, agencies and organizations with flexible, creative people and surround them with the tools and programs that work instead of tossing our precious resources and money into programs that are doomed from the beginning. we have a chance and an opportunity to learn from 2016 and the years prior and begin anew. we have a chance to improve the lives of the homeless and give them what we have been promising for too long but not delivering...an end to their struggle.
we now face a choice to begin 2017. do we continue to follow the same path and fail or do we begin anew and explore different avenues to end homelessness? do we continue to let our agency leaders make deeper tears in the fabric of our credibility or do we use the passion that we all once had in fighting homelessness and take a new route to the same end? do we continue year after year to act surprised at the lack of results in reducing homelessness, or do we admit we've been wrong collectively and bring our new ideas, new messages forward....with new messengers. we can always hope. however, we can't always begin anew. this year we have that chance.
see you around town