Tuesday, July 14, 2009

AIDS.gov and Community Voice Mail

AIDS.gov just posted a really nice piece on their blog about our national efforts to reach 20,000 Community Voice Mail clients and 1,800 social service agencies last month with information about HIV testing. This is a follow-up to our previous post about this outreach effort.

The AIDS.gov post includes a voice response we received from one of our clients, who heard the message, pressed the "4" key on her phone, and recorded a comment. We love having this level of communication with the people who use our service, and I think we're only beginning to tap into the power of this network. It seems strange to say in these Internet-fueled days, but there is great power in hearing a human voice, and maintaining that rich connection to another human being. This is particularly true for people who are experiencing homelessness or other problems that make it difficult to stay connected to others.

It's been great working with AIDS.gov on this, and we look forward to working with more partners to distribute information to our clients and the agencies that serve them. What other information should we send to help our clients build better lives? Leave us a note in the comments if you feel so inclined...

We definitely weren't the only ones working to increase awareness about National HIV Testing Day. Hundreds of organizations and countless individuals organized around this, and we're glad to have been included. Oh, and here's one other notable participant...

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Why Are People Homeless?

The National Alliance to End Homeless has a new blog, and they just posted a mercifully brief answer to the question: "Why Are People Homeless?" The root causes of homelessness are very complex, and there are often interconnected issues that cause someone to lose their place to live, but this article gives a good high-level summary for four populations:
  • Veterans: Emotional or mental distress from military service can manifest in damaging behavior (drugs, alcohol, etc.) that leads to loss of permanent housing.
  • Families: An unforeseen costly event (raise in rent, medical emergency, etc.) creates a financial hurdle that can push a family into homelessness.
  • Youth: Homelessness often happens as a result of a family disruption (divorce, abuse, etc.). Those who leave foster care when they turn 18 or get out of the juvenile justice system find themselves without a social safety net.
  • The "Chronically Homeless": Most often the result of a physical or psychological disability, which makes it hard to secure permanent housing.
There is voluminous data and analysis about this question, available on the NAEH site and elsewhere, but these are reasonable nuggets to share the next time you're on an elevator and the subject comes up. If everyone in America knew even this about the homeless, I believe things would change.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

InvisiblePeople.tv Road Trip

InvisiblePeople.tv is hitting the road this summer, visiting 24 cities in 49 days to record (on video) the stories of people without homes. You can read more about this epic road trip here, including a list of cities and dates. If you're so inclined, please consider supporting this effort with a donation or other assistance. I just did.

InvisiblePeople.tv records the voices and stories of "homeless" people, in their own words and without a lot of editing or editorializing. I learn a lot every time I watch one of these videos, and I can't wait to see what they capture this summer.

Here's a recent interview from the site:

Richard from InvisiblePeople.tv on Vimeo.