Advocates called on housing activists to embrace “homing” as opposed to “housing” at a gathering in Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C. (July 20, 2023) – Advocates called on housing activists to embrace “homing” as opposed to “housing” at the National Alliance to End Homelessness Annual Conference in Washington, D.C.
Human Yearning is for Home
“Human yearning is for home, not housing,” said Seth Eisenberg, CEO of Purpose Built Families Foundation. “Poets and songwriters don’t sing songs about housing. We yearn for home,” Eisenberg emphasized at the conference.
Army veteran Angel Evans spoke about the impact of the words activists use to engage their neighbors without homes and inspire action.
Speaking of his personal experience after serving more than nine years in uniform, including multiple deployments to the Middle East, Evans said, “I learned firsthand that words matter. The words we use can either push people away, leaving them feeling judged and misunderstood or they can lead to a place where it’s safe to be vulnerable.”
A Safe, Stable Place to Call Home
“It’s time to change more than a few common words and phrases in our commitment to ending homelessness. We’re striving for a future in which all of our neighbors have a safe, stable place to call home,” the combat veteran said.
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue.”Proverbs 18:21
Despite the support of his family, Evans said he struggled with feelings of sadness and loneliness after his military service. “I felt guilt and shame as I lost comrades in combat who would kill to switch places with me. This weighed heavily on me and intensified my emotional burden.”
“Seeking help became a frustrating experience. Instead of finding understanding and support, I was often asked what was wrong with me and why I couldn’t simply snap out of it. These questions only isolated me further. I withdrew even more and resisted communication,” Evans confided.
What Happened to Your Dreams?
The Army veteran today directs the Operation Sacred Trust Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) engagement team in Miami, Florida. He said that instead of asking people, “What happened,” frontline activists should look to understand, “What happened to your dreams?”
That period in his life gave him insights into the power of language, he added.
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue,” Evans said, quoting Proverbs 18:21.
The advocates from Purpose Built Families Foundation said ‘homing’ should include:
- Building warm mutual relationships between tenants, property managers, and landlords;
- Connecting Veterans to community, faith-based and social services that meet their individual preferences;
- Providing knowledge, tools and resources to navigate life’s natural challenges and transitions, and;
- Creating reliable Continuums of Care for our most vulnerable neighbors.
Citing relationship breakdown as a leading factor that causes hundreds of thousands of Americans to lose their homes, advocates spoke of the urgent need for evidence-based prevention efforts to strengthen marriages, families and social support networks.
Following the meeting, Evans and Purpose Built Director Ana Rubirosa spoke about their work ending veteran homelessness with fellow veteran and U.S. Representative Brian Mast on Capitol Hill.
“A house provides shelter, but a home gives comfort,” the advocates said. “True compassion goes beyond bricks and mortar; it fosters a sense of belonging and love. In the act of homing someone, we plant seeds of hope that bloom into a sanctuary where hearts find solace and dreams take flight.”