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Speak Up

In Los Angeles County, tremendous strides have been and are continuing to be made toward the goal of ending chronic and veteran homelessness. Those working in the field are very aware that the solution is available and has been borne out in study after study. But it takes more than ‘facts’ to change the hearts and minds of people, especially in a society that has historically viewed homelessness as unsolvable and the individuals experiencing homelessness as hopeless.

Program participants, CSH staff and Andy Goodman of The Goodman Center at one of the workshops.

CSH's Role

In September of 2013 CSH launched the Supportive Housing Community Advocates program.

This pilot project is designed to support formerly homeless residents of permanent supportive housing to effectively advocate for themselves and their communities. The year-long curriculum combines monthly educational trainings on topics such as housing policy, advocacy, storytelling, narrative development, and public speaking with individual coaching sessions, as well as numerous opportunities to advocate at local, state, and federal levels.

In addition to building skills, the participants are encouraged to reexamine their relationship to housing and to articulate the challenges of overcoming homelessness. Stories of lived experience are critical to reframe public perception and build the public and political will necessary to end homelessness. The community advocates’ stories touch on different struggles, but they all illustrate the isolation of homelessness and the ultimate solution provided by supportive housing.

Follow the conversation online #CSHSpeakUp

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Impact and Outcomes

Through the community advocates’ stories we not only learn what works in solving homelessness, we begin to understand what life after homelessness looks like and the tremendous potential of the men and women who have made this journey. The connections between the community advocates experience, public policy and the broader social debate, allows the advocates to reinvigorate public dialogue. By understanding the human side of ending homelessness, we open the door to new allies and partners to share our common belief that homelessness can be ended. We also open the door to long time believers to see that not only can we end homelessness; we can harness the potential and energy of the people with lived experience of homelessness to be our partners in this movement.

Participants in Speak Up have advocated at the local, state and federal level, meeting with the legislators who are the decision makers on funding for supportive housing programs.

Speak Up Stories

Aleah

Deborah

Dorothy

Terrence

Wallace

 

Partners

A Community of Friends

Housing Works

Skid Row Housing Trust

The Coalition for Responsible Community Development/Clifford Beers Housing

Survivors’ Truths

Funders

Related Websites

I got to speak at the state capitol. The building was so beautiful, I started crying. I never would have thought that I would be in a place like that. The legislator was so moved by our stories, he said “I have put up a blinder to avoid seeing homelessness, but hearing your stories, I won’t be able to ignore it now… you’re really advocating for all those who don’t have a voice.”- Ruby

“I started this program thinking that I was just going to be helping formerly homeless individuals better their public speaking skills. But after a year of this program, I realize that these individuals were also teaching me how to live.” Jason Friedman, Volunteer Coach

 

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