ADVOCATE AND EDUCATE OTHERS
Advocacy is critical to creating the systemic changes needed to end homelessness. Advocacy means working with people experiencing homelessness to bring about positive changes in policies and programs on the local, state, and federal levels. It means working with various sectors of the community (e.g. city/county officials, members of Congress, direct service providers, and the business community) to develop workable strategies for responding to homelessness. It also means changing your language and behaviors in small ways that may contribute to larger changes in the way people experiencing homelessness are seen and treated in our society.
Here are some ways you might help:
Get involved with the Continuum of Care (CoC)
Attend the monthly CoC Meetings, advocate for more community businesses and institutions to get involved/contribute toward a solution, volunteer at one of the CoC member agencies, or homeless advocacy coalition, or make a financial contribution to support the community initiatives of the CoC. DISCLAIMER: THE HOMELESS COALITION OF HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY IS A 501(c) 3 TAX EXEMPT ORGANIZATION. A COPY OF THE OFFICIAL REGISTRATION (#CH-21811) AND FINANCIAL INFORMATION MAY BE OBTAINED FROM THE FLORIDA DIVISION OF CONSUMER SERVICES BY CALLING TOLL-FREE (800-435-7352) WITHIN THE STATE. REGISTRATION DOES NOT IMPLY ENDORSEMENT, APPROVAL OR RECOMMENDATION BY THE STATE. For more information on how you can get involved, please contact us at info@THHI.org.
Sign up for Legislative Alerts
These alerts give the most up-to-date information about what is happening in Congress affecting homelessness and poverty on a national level, and what you can do about it. Legislative alerts can be found on https://www.congress.gov/help/alerts. Then write letters, e-mail, call, or visit public officials at the city, county, state and federal levels asking what they are doing about homelessness and/or mentioning relevant legislation. When legislators receive more than a few visits or letters about any subject, they sit up and take notice. Personal visits are the most powerful; letters, e-mails, and phone calls are next. Addresses for public officials are available at the local library or on the Internet at www.house.gov and www.senate.gov. To call anyone in Congress: Capitol Switchboard (202) 224-3121.
Follow Local Politics
Attend neighborhood and public meetings and speak up in favor of low-income housing, group homes, shelters, and homelessness prevention programs.
Educate your Leaders
Organize site visits for political leaders and the media to visit local homeless programs to highlight ways that your community is successfully addressing the many problems associated with homelessness.
Involve the Media
Call or write the media to inform them of your concern for people experiencing homelessness in your area. Write editorials when important issues related to homelessness arise in your community.
Encourage those Most Directly Involved to Advocate
Encourage people experiencing homelessness, agency volunteers, and staff to contact officials at all levels of government. Use opportunities like special holiday meals to do this—provide paper, pens, stamped envelopes, and sample messages at every meeting and event. Have a "Call In Day." Try getting a few people with cellular phones to go to shelters or meal programs to get people experiencing homelessness, volunteers, and staff to call the Governor (Mayor, Council Member...) asking them to stop future cuts in essential services. Create a "reverse panhandling" activity—get people experiencing homelessness and other volunteers to hand out quarters and ask people to call their legislators.
Register People Experiencing Homelessness to Vote
The “You Don’t Need A Home to Vote” nonpartisan voter registration/education/get-out-the-vote campaign occurs nationwide each election cycle. Find out how you can lobby for homeless voting rights written policy or law in your state. To obtain the voting rights registration manual and poster, contact Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections at (888) 297-4362 or by email Voter@hcsoe.org.
Get Involved with a Local Street Newspaper
Street newspapers educate the general public about homelessness while providing people experiencing homelessness with a creative outlet to have their articles, photos, artwork, and poetry published and providing employment opportunities as vendors and writers.
Sponsor a Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week
CH and the National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness (NSCAHH) co-sponsor an Awareness Week every year during the first full week before Thanksgiving. Awareness weeks are organized in more than 500 campuses and communities nationwide. For more information or to order this year’s organizing guide, contact NSCAHH at (800) NO-HUNGR or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Recognize National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day
Lead by the National Consumer Advisory Board, the National Coalition for the Homeless, and the National Health Care for the Homeless Council - every year, on or around December 21st, the first day of winter and the longest night of the year, nearly 100 communities nationwide hold local memorial services to remember people who have died homeless during that year. Contact us at info@THHI.org to see if an event is already planned or if you wish to plan one, NCH has an organizing manual to help you organize a memorial day in our community. For more information, visit NHCHC Homeless Memorial Page.
Become More Aware of Your Language
Try to minimize language in your own and others’ vocabularies that refers to people experiencing homelessness in derogatory ways. By using expressions such as “people experiencing homelessness” rather than labels such as “bum,” “transient,” or even “the homeless,” we remind ourselves that people who are in such situations are still people first—just people who are going through a difficult period in their lives. In a time when they may find it difficult to hold onto their sense of humanity, it is particularly important that we do not use language that further diminishes the dignity of people in homeless situations.