States of emergency: How jurisdictions are re-framing homelessness as a crisis

Thursday, June 2, 2016: 10:00 AM-11:30 AM
Forum Suite (Hilton Portland)
While some areas of the U.S. have seen declines in homelessness, other areas have seen increases that have overwhelmed local homeless services. In response several jurisdictions have declared formal states of emergency on homelessness. Much like a state of emergency caused by a natural disaster, these declarations are designed to allow local governments to re-allocate resources, overcome procedural barriers to addressing the problem, and more quickly direct funding to meet local needs. While each locale has used its declaration in different ways, some common themes have included recognizing that homelessness is a human-made disaster that has reached crisis levels, calling for an immediate increase in the availability of temporary shelter, and requesting additional resources from State and Federal governments. As a new strategy, it is unclear what long-term effect these declarations will have on the number of people experiencing homelessness; however, these are intriguing vehicles for raising public awareness and realizing new resources. This workshop will explore the potential for emergency declarations to be used as an advocacy tool for policy change. Service providers from Los Angeles and Seattle will describe what changes (if any) they have seen as a result of their city's emergency declaration, and an overview of declarations and advocacy strategies will be provided so others can pursue similar goals in their locality.
Amber Roth, MSW, MS (Director of Operations & Programs, Homeless Health Care Los Angeles)
Matt Warfield, MSW, MUP (Health Policy Organizer, NHCHC)
John Gilvar (Mobile Medical Van Manager, Seattle King County Department of Public Health)
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