“You need to live it to know it”. With these powerful words Iris Bailey, who was homeless for 18 months, moved the attendants of the open dialogue organised by the UN NGO Working Group to End Homelessness (WGEH) last week in New York, in which the FHA staff and Commission members took part.
Among the participants, there were NGOs, member states representatives, and Daniela Bas, director of Inclusive Social Development of the UN.
The WGEH, made up of 36 organisations, has significant Vincentian leadership, coordinated by Father Guillermo “Memo” Campuzano.
Thanks in part to this Vincentian leadership, homelessness and the need to provide adequate housing will be the focus of the next session of the UN Commission Social Development in 2020.
Homelessness has never appeared in any UN document in its 74 years of history, as Father Memo remembered. The working group now focuses their efforts on ensuring that the UN adopts a definition of homelessness beyond the lack of housing.
In this line, father Memo also highlighted that social protection needs floors, but also roofs.
During the dialogue, Dame Louise Casey, from the Institute of Global Homelessness focused on the need to gather data to understand the real dimension of the issue and to propose solutions. Mark McGreevy, from FHA, put on the table the Vincentian idea of actions rather than words.
The working group’s advocacy will continue at the UN and the member states to ensure that the final report and resolution at the end of the Commission session reflects the demands of NGO and ensure that the countries count the number of homeless people uniformly.
On the long term, the objective is to include homelessness in the new UN agenda, expected to be agreed by 2028.
FHA Commission and Team Meeting
The dialogue took place after the biannual meeting of the FHA Commission and Team meeting.
These gatherings bring together an advisory committee spread all over the world, from Haiti to Australia, passing through the UK and France.
The meeting allowed the team to discuss the performance of the initiative, the “13 Houses” Campaign, the financial situation and to make new plans for the future. Among other goals, the group set the objective of reaching 50 countries with 13 Houses projects on the short term.
The meeting also allowed us to welcome the new team members: Natalie Monteza, Campaign Coordinator, and Santiago Agra, Communications Manager.
Homelessness goes beyond physical structures. Some people could have nicely built Houses and yet these houses are beautiful on the outside but on the inside are ugly. A nicely built House to be called a Home must embrace, Love,Peace, unity, Care, Joy among others. For the Homeless Program to be more successful apart from addressing physical structures for homeless people, there is need to address this issue from a multi dimensional approach and indeed targeting 2030 as a bench mark in the realization of the project life span would be in vein if other important aspects such as emotional and physical abuses are not addressed along the way.