Tonight, we in the homeless assistance community will gather to honor the leaders in our field who have demonstrated exemplary achievement in preventing and ending homelessness at the annual National Alliance to End Homelessness (NAEH) Awards Ceremony.
Once a year we pause to reflect on our work, to recognize the contributions of our colleagues and peers, and reinvest in the goal that brings us together: to prevent and end homelessness in the United States.
This year’s ceremony is particularly special as this last year has proven to be a transformative one for the homeless assistance field.
As concerns about foreclosure, the housing market, and unemployment gripped the country, the reality of homelessness took root in the public consciousness. Communities across the country experienced the inadequacies of the existing homeless assistance system firsthand as they struggled to meet an increased demand for public assistance and social services in the face of dwindling state and local resources.
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.
Among the many innovators and leaders who stepped forward to tackle this year’s challenges, a few shone through:
• 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 with 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 with 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 than $3 million of marketing and direct investment to support 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 focused on creating affordable housing and community partnerships. For his commitment to accessible housing and strong communities, the Alliance will present Mo Vaughn with the John W. Macy Lifetime Achievement Award.
In a year of unprecedented challenges, this year’s awardees have demonstrated creativity, innovation, and steadfast commitment to the cause.
This is the example we will look to as our community gathers to recognize our progress towards our unifying goal. This is what we will honor, the persistent hope of a country without homelessness. This is what ending homelessness looks like.
NHC would like to thank Catherine An, media relations and communications specialist for the National Alliance to End Homelessness, for submitting this post. If you have questions about tonight's ceremony, or about the Alliance's work, please don't hesitate to Contact Catherine.