Now Is The Time

Ending hunger, homelessness, and the cycle of poverty...in heels.

In the United States more than 633,000 people experience homelessness every night.  48.9 million Americans are at risk of hunger - including one in five kids. Nearly 50 million Americans are living in poverty.  Hunger, homelessness, and poverty are devastating for individuals and our communities. This is unacceptable, unjust, and illogical.

We know that effective, commonsense policies like SNAP and EITC lift people out of poverty. We know that Rapid Rehousing and Housing First models reduce homelessness. We know that innovative philanthropic endeavors like Collective Impact and Social Impact Bonds can transform the way government, nonprofits, and local communities work together to tackle our toughest challenges. We know we can band together and create change.

Now Is The Time to get this done.

This site will feature a collection of personal reflections, original ideas, and smart thinking from around the country and the globe on the issues of hunger, homelessness, and poverty.  We'll check in with thought leaders and discuss ways we can create change. We will also highlight ways to leverage two of my favorite things - National Service and the philanthropic sector. 

Values & Tackling Poverty in the New Administration

Like many of you, my team at United Way team was gearing up for a Clinton Administration. One that would be friendly toward the goals of ending homelessness and lifting people out of poverty. We were excited about the prospects of child tax credits that would help low income families, greater access to early childhood education and affordable college. As a non partisan organization it wasn’t that we favored the Democratic Nominee, it was that we simply didn’t have much to go on from the Trump team and we still don’t.

As we now know, 2017 will look very different.

There are a lot of unknowns about what a Trump Administration will and won’t do. We hope there will be opportunities for funding that supports people experiencing homelessness and poverty. We hope that they will expand safety-net programs that have reduced poverty.  We hope that this Administration will walk back on the divisive campaign rhetoric that that has stroked so much fear across our nation. We hope the Administration will support historically bi-partisan efforts like AmeriCorps which tackles poverty today while creating a pipeline of anti-poverty leaders.  

Our hopes are big. But frankly we just don’t know. And the appointments of people like Jeff Sessions and Stephen Bannon are of great concern.   

Philanthropic leaders have big influence and must use our platforms responsibly.  We need to be cautious about our rhetoric especially in the absence of information.  This is a difficult balance for social justice advocates and something I have struggled with on a daily basis since the election. But without specific policies all we can do is speculate and that can create fear and stress for the most vulnerable – people are already dealing with the daily stress of poverty.

While we wait to understand policy direction, we cannot wait to express our values.  We have a responsibility to speak out and be clear about the people we care about, what we know works, and what we will stand for regardless of who is in the White House.  

  • We value equity and justice for all. Not hate crimes that continue rise
  • We value healthcare for all because we’ve seen the impact and know that repealing ACA would be a disaster.
  • We value homes for people who don’t have a roof over head.
  • We value strategies that reduce hunger and use the wisest investments – like SNAP and Schools Meals.  Not block grants and funding reductions.
  • We value a tax code that incentivizes work and effectively moves people out of poverty – not one that punishes single parents.
  • We value communities like Seattle, NYC, and LA that provide sanctuary to immigrants and refugees. Not registries or walls.
  • We value freedom of expression in classrooms, in theaters, and on our streets.

As anti-poverty leaders, we have a responsibility to speak loudly about our values. Not because of the election but because that is why go to work each and every day.  Today we need to be louder, firmer, and clearer about what we value.  If not now, when? Is not us, who?