According to Dan McDonald, ‘there’s no place like home’ and most of us would agree unless you’re homeless, of course. That was the name of his keynote speech in Kansas City highlighting the issues around homelessness and what we can do to end it.
McDonald delivered his speech at the annual National Sheriff’s Association 2022 conference. It was designed to raise awareness of how the police deal with homelessness and people who live on the streets. It also highlighted the fact that jails are becoming the largest homeless shelters in many communities and the cost implications of this for the taxpayer.
McDonald called for better responses to the issue of homelessness and suggested ways in which the authorities and local communities could develop cost-effective, legal and compassionate approaches for dealing with the issue, such as the development of police homeless outreach teams.
In a recent article, PolicyAdvice highlighted the problem of homelessness in the US. The figures cited in their article suggest that the estimated number of homeless in the US is over 550,000.
They also quoted other alarming statistics, including the average life expectancy for a homeless person being just 50 years of age and the fact that 20% of homeless persons are kids!
But it’s not just the US that has an issue with homelessness; in the UK more than 274,000 people were classed as homeless in England in December 2021 as reported by Shelter, the UK housing and homelessness charity.
However, according to research by Policy Advice, the homeless problem in the US is on a downward trend and permanent housing interventions have grown by 450% in 5 years. So, it seems that the work carried out by people such as Dan McDonald is raising awareness of homelessness and helping to find ways to ease the problem.
Let’s End Homelessness. Together
On the other side of the Atlantic on exactly the same day that Dan McDonald delivered his speech. Another homelessness champion, Amy Varle, was making her keynote speech in Manchester in the UK, at Housing 2022, the award-winning annual conference hosted by the Chartered Institute of Housing.
This conference attracts thousands of attendees and is Europe’s largest housing event. This year it hosted 450+ speakers, one of which was Amy Varle. Amy wrote the strategy to end homelessness through Housing First that was rolled out by ex-Prime Minister, Theresa May, back in 2018.
Amy was at the conference to talk about the roll-out of Housing First and to promote her digital social platform, Socially Homes.
As the founder and Creative Director of Socially Homes, Amy has created a platform where housing providers and support agencies can come together to work toward reducing the problem of homelessness.
They run a calendar of digital events to give members the chance to meet, socialise and learn from each other.
The motto of Socially Homes is ‘Let’s End Homelessness. Together’. The initiative was launched at Downing Street in September 2021, when Amy who lived in a homeless hostel herself at the age of 16, met with the then Prime Minister, Boris Johnson.
The digital membership platform will be rolled out in the UK over the next two years and Amy predicts that, during this time, it will help tens of thousands of homeless people. She hopes that within the next 10 years it will reach 1 billion people across the world.
Amy is no stranger to the issues of homelessness and rough sleepers in the US. In 2016, Amy met with leaders of US homeless organizations in New York and San Francisco and based on her findings, published a white paper of policy recommendations on her return to the UK.
As part of the global roll-out, Socially Homes is due to arrive on US shores soon and Amy is already in discussion to trial her social networking-for-social-good concept internationally.