Monday, June 18, 2012

Really?? Year 8 for HEAR US; Year 25 for Feds' Homeless Approach

I knew something was weird when I learned our HEAR US website was down recently. Emails bouncing back. Not good. What was the cause?

Well, 7 years ago, when HEAR US was born, the HEAR US website and email addresses were set up. My friend Ken Johnson, who took care of this task, asked me how long he should register it for. 7 years sounded logical.

We just re-upped for another 5 years. Maybe the world will end by then. Maybe not. Certainly homelessness will still be an issue, at least for families and youth.

In HEAR US' birth month of July, we also commemorate another anniversary: 25th year of the McKinney Act (now McKinney-Vento), the federal plan to coordinate homeless services.

My mentor/friend, Mitch Snyder, led the charge to get this mega-issue on the federal table way back then. Presidents have come and gone. HUD Secretaries have cycled, some into prison, and piles of plans and reports have received scant attention from the purse-holding Congress.

Homelessness changed from the visible scruffy guy stereotype, exploding across all populations as social safety nets were shredded. HUD has yet to catch on, resisting our plea to pay adequate attention to the millions of homeless kids, with and without families. (Check out our Help Homeless Kids Now website!)

HUD, stuck in their bureaucratic mud, continues to fight the essential move to align that agency's definition with other federal departments, resulting in a tragic skyrocketing of unsheltered families and youth.The Homeless Children and Youth Act, HR 32, could pave the way to change the way our nation looks at--and eventually deals with--homelessness.

So HEAR US has joined forces with like-minded organizations from across the nation to spell out what needs to happen a mere 25 years after Congress acknowledged homelessness.

Holding my breath? Nope. Turning in Tillie's keys? Nope. Quitting my efforts? Nope. 

I wish I could spend the time to list the impressive ways people have helped this improbable mission unfold and continue. It's amazing. The thoughts of your many kindnesses smooth the more than 148,000 miles of backroads and highways I've traveled.

Even more so, warming my heart and fueling my passion are the stories shared with me by courageous kids and parents experiencing homelessness. Yeah, those kids and parents who according to HUD don't exist.

I'm asking for something here...if you've read this far, kudos! HEAR US needs a modest influx of funding to keep going. A bunch of folks chipping in what they can afford will do the job. People buying our stuff helps too. We're one (we'd like to think worthy) cause among many. If you can help, please do so. And keep rooting for us.

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