In the effort to advance our vision of providing permanent solutions to family homelessness, Solutions for Change CEO Chris Megison and Director of Strategic Advancement Paul Webster, traveled to Capitol Hill to meet with influential members and staff of the Senate and House of Representatives. The trip was in response to Congressman Darrell Issa’s (CA) invitation to Solutions for Change residents and graduates to deliver their stories to Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson.
In a marathon of visits, Chris and Paul were successful in pointing out the harmful impacts on children and families experiencing homelessness of current HUD homelessness assistance policies and priorities. In particular, they shared how HUD policies punish programs that prioritize sobriety, work, and accountability, and fail to move people toward economic independence. They also describe how top down one-size-fits-all HUD policies exclude organizations that emphasize personal responsibility in holistic, drug free, community based recovery models and, in turn, actually increase homelessness.
The trip encouraged co-sponsorship of HR 1511 and S 611 as reasonable first steps to HUD reform. That bill, as well as the recognition that HUD policies are failing to significantly decrease the number of homeless and decrease dependency on government assistance, signal a willingness on Capitol Hill to take the first serious look at homelessness policies and funding priorities since Housing First was implemented nearly ten years ago.