SOME Residents and Clients Lead the Way for Change
September 16, 2016
With the support of SOME’s Advocacy Department, SOME residents and clients are leading efforts to address the root causes of poverty and homelessness.
Currently, 12 resident and client led Advocacy Committees are at the forefront of initiatives dealing with real-time issues and potential solutions. Their experience and passion have proven to be invaluable.
Ms. Geneva, an Advocate at Isaiah House, SOME’s day program for adults with chronic mental illness, has drawn from her personal experience while working to improve shelter conditions for single adults. She stated in a public testimony:
I was born and raised in the District of Columbia, and became homeless as a child. Then I became a ward of the city, and remained so until my 18th birthday, when I was aged out of foster care. I have remained homeless throughout the majority of my adult life.
In 2009, I lost my job due to the downturn in the economy. In 2011, I was injured going to work as a temp and was on disability until 2014. I was permanently partially disabled on my entire right side from the neck down.
Ms. Geneva had nowhere to turn but a shelter. Arriving early one afternoon, Ms. Geneva waited on the shelter steps without food, water or bathroom facilities until 8:00 pm. She didn’t receive any food until the following evening at 5:30 pm.
Reflecting on her experiences, Ms. Geneva says, “Advocacy provides an avenue where you can discuss your concerns that otherwise would not be known. The leaders in this city and those who want to assist don’t know what is truly needed because they themselves haven’t been there. Unless we advocate for ourselves, many of the concerns won’t be addressed.”
In addition to the shelter conditions campaign, the Advocacy Committees have identified issues ranging from safety (such as minimal street lights and missing sidewalks East of the River) to the need for affordable housing for low-income District residents. Committees are now meeting with experts in their respective areas and working to develop and/or support advocacy campaigns around these issues that will lead to long-term change.
Mr. Young, Advocate for SOME’s Shalom House Advocacy Committee, says, “We need change. I want to be a part of the change. We all need to be a part of it if we want to see change in our community.”
We invite you to join SOME, Ms. Geneva, Mr. Young and the Advocacy Committees as we continue to advocate for positive social change in our community.