As part of the MFI Homelessness Working Group, Renew T.E.S was pleased to be a participant at today's MFI Tiny Homes Micro Summit. Thank you to all who participated and attended.
Las Vegas has a crisis with homelessness, unaccompanied homeless youth, and a lack of affordable housing. Present were city and county representatives spanning the jurisdictions, along with HUD personnel. Several non-profits, foundations, developers, architects, housing groups, educators, homeless and previously homeless residents, members and a few leaders of faith communities were in attendance. Emily Paulsen and Kate Royer of Nevada Homeless Alliance continued with unflagging energy and support throughout the day. The City of Las Vegas kindly provided printing, food and a lovely venue. Andrew Heben from Square One Villages did an amazing presentation from Eugene, OR., sharing Square One struggles and successes. Sarah and Cruz from Poverello House in Fresno, CA., educated us on their low barrier shelter and centralized service linkages. Las Vegas architect Rick Van Diepen contributions on sustainable design and zoning/coding information was invaluable. All of the presenters expressed the need to offer help in a person-centered and dignified way to build not just housing, but communities.
This morning was bitterly cold. Thirty eight degrees cold. On my way to the summit I saw a man in a wheelchair with hospital socks on and short pants. My heart ached for him. My fingers hurt from the cold as I took the short walk from my car to City Hall. I couldn't help but think what it must have been like to sleep on the ground last night, or in a wheelchair in the bitter wind. And I contemplated how I would feel waking up with no hope of a hot breakfast or coffee.
6,490 people on the streets of Las Vegas every night. It's intolerable to us. If that's intolerable to you, speak up. Tell your elected officials and faith leaders that you want action. Volunteer. Make a difference. It's cold out there. It's time to bring the homeless home.
Kelly Swan is a counselor, educator, program developer, community activist and a person in long-term recovery.
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