As a policymaker, you understand how critical advocacy is to creating the systemic changes needed to end homelessness. As a leader in your community, you care about the quality of life of all your constituents, especially the most vulnerable.
Here are some ways to help:
Try to avoid using negative labels like “bum” or “hobo” when referring to people experiencing homelessness. By using the phrase “people experiencing homelessness,” you can help subtly remind those around you that people without homes are still people.
Educate your constituents and the media
Look for opportunities to remind your constituents and the media about the realities of homelessness, particularly in terms of breaking the stereotypes about who experiences homelessness and why.
Support Michigan’s Homelessness Awareness Week
The State of Michigan officially recognizes the week of November 14 as Homeless Awareness Week. This is an ideal time to reach out to your constituents and ask them to help. Find out more about that at www.mihomelessweek.org.
Recognize National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day
On December 21, join nearly 100 communities nationwide in remembering the people who have died while homeless during the past year. Contact the National Coalition for the Homeless for information about planning a memorial day in your community. http://www.nationalhomeless.org/projects/memorial.
Emphasize that your door is always open
Encourage those most directly involved in helping people experiencing homelessness, such as agency volunteers and staff, to contact your office if they have concerns or questions about policy matters.