by Nan Roman, President, National Alliance to End Homelessness
In recent months, we have all learned that making progress on the most important issues facing our country will require extraordinary commitment and perseverance. We have learned that to create change and promote progress, we must be able to demonstrate unflinching resolve in the face of uphill battles.
Tonight, the homeless assistance community will gather to honor those among us who display these qualities; tonight, we recognize those who have been able to strive forward and lead in the face of economic turmoil, diminishing resources, and a pronounced growth in need at the 2010 National Alliance to End Homelessness Awards Ceremony.
The last year has been a transformative one for the field. As concerns about foreclosure, the housing market, and unemployment gripped the country, the reality of homelessness took root in the public consciousness – and communities across the country experienced the inadequacies of the existing homeless assistance system as they struggled to meet an increased demand for public assistance and social services. The federal government took notice of the problem as well – and responded with the $1.5 billion stimulus-funded Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP), intended to prevent and curb homelessness resulting from the recession.
And among the innovators and leaders who stepped forward to bring attention to homelessness this year, a select few stood out:
- Long after the public lost interest in the plight of New Orleans, UNITY of Greater New Orleans continued to assist the thousands of displaced and homeless residents of the city. For the organization’s commitment to re-housing those still suffering from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, the Alliance will present UNITY GNO the Nonprofit Achievement Award.
- As chair of the committee overseeing the budget for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Sen. Patty Murray (D – WA) has emerged as a leading voice on housing and homelessness. For her work advancing ways to prevent and end homelessness, the Alliance will present Sen. Murray the Public Sector Achievement Award.
- The RE*Generation campaign is a movement to raise awareness about youth homelessness. To date, this new effort has committed more than3 million of marketing and direct investment to support to local homeless agencies. In recognition of the RE*Generation campaign, the Alliance will honor Virgin Mobile USA and Virgin Unite with the Private Sector Achievement Award.
- Former Major League Baseball first baseman Mo Vaughn followed his athletic career by launching Omni New York LLC – a development firm focusing on creating affordable housing and community partnerships. For his commitment to accessible housing and strong communities, the Alliance will present Mo Vaughn the John W. Macy Lifetime Achievement Award.
These leaders have proven that through innovation, creativity, and unyielding allegiance to the cause, we can make progress on the greatest social challenges. Their examples show that we can aim towards a time when everyone has a place to call home.
This is what we aspire to tonight, as we gather to recognize the achievement towards our collective goal. This is what we honor, the persistent hope of a country without homelessness. This is what ending homelessness looks like.