The Interfaith Task Force on Homelessness hosted the tenth of a series of workshops on September 15 for an in-depth look at the issues of homelessness, and concrete steps the community can take to address the problem. Task Force founder Reverend David Bloom, a resident of the 46th District and our endorsed candidate for Seattle City Council last year, delivered a stirring keynote address. He reviewed the history of governmental abdication of its commitment to investing in low-income housing – an abdication that, long before the Great Recession made matters so much worse, resulted in the explosive growth of nationwide homelessness over the last 30 years.
"[T]here was a time, not so long ago," he said, "when the federal government made a serious annual investment in low-income housing production. Significantly, and not coincidentally, that commitment terminated around 1980, the very time we began to see the dramatic growth in homelessness that has continued to this day."
Rev. Bloom issued a clarion call to action:
"The question for us is our collective will as a people—a caring and compassionate people—in our democratic society . . . to work against overwhelming odds to turn back the tide of greed and selfishness and indifference that stands in the way of ending homelessness. . . . As Martin Luther King, Jr. said in his famous 'Beyond Vietnam' speech delivered one year to the day before he was assassinated, 'A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.' That is the path we are on today."
Rev. Bloom continued, "Unless we unite to redress [the problem of homelessness] with a new human rights movement, our best efforts to eliminate homelessness and to restore a more sustainable economy for everyone will never be enough." Homelessness is not a problem just for its immediate victims, he said. "We accept it as a permanent social condition at our own peril."
Click here to read Rev. Bloom's speech, including the practical things we can do right now.
Bill Block, Project Director of the King County Committee to End Homelessness, presented a report on "Progress and Challenges" to date, which provides further data on failed governmental policies that have exacerbated today’s problems – as well as notable local achievements in addressing them. Other workshops dealt in depth with youth and families at risk, School District data on homeless children, specific initiatives to provide shelter for all who need it, barriers to stability, and many other aspects of the problem. Nancy Amidei, in her panel presentation on "Developing the Political Will to End Homelessness" referred workshop attendees to the website of the 46th LD for its advocacy links, continuing work that she started at the University of Washington. For more information on the work of ITFH, you can go directly to the Interfaith Task Force on Homelessness website, which is also one of those links on our Advocacy page.