My friend Suzanna and I were given the opportunity, on behalf of the Simcoe County Alliance to End Homelessness, to write a blog post and letter to the editor as part of an ongoing campaign by Just Recovery Simcoe to keep topics like homelessness, racism, and the environment top of mind as our local COVID recovery is developed.
We used the opportunity to remind readers that housing is a right, and also to repeat a version of my favourite line about affordable housing:
"Our whole community is better off -- more healthy, happy and resilient -- when everyone has a safe, affordable, hopeful place to call home."
Anat Shenker-Osorio tells us that saying what we are for gathers more followers than just stating what we are against. In fact, she says repeating "the other side's" message with a no in front of it just gives them free air time. She also says we need to cast a vision that people can get excited about, so I keep repeating the above narrative as an alternative to the negative ones associated with homelessness, and I look forward to the day I read it being repeated by someone I don't even know. ;)
My new 4-word filter
Another 4 magic words that I'm using as my lens for helping people in 2021 are: does this decision/policy/idea centre and honour the dignity, self-determination, autonomy, and social inclusion of the people it is for? And if not, how can we change it so that it does?
This is allllll about disrupting for good, and this filter can be used on shelter harm reduction policies, "occupancy agreements" in our supportive housing programs, food bank policies, designing patient engagement pathways, defining program success criteria, and 100 other applications.
I encourage you to take this filter as a tool and also a challenge this week and start a (potentially uncomfortable) conversation that could move a policy or practice in your organization toward justice.