Target: U.S. Congress
Goal: Urge Congress members to walk a day in the shoes of homeless Americans
Last month U.S. House of Representatives member Jackie Speier (D- California) spent a night in a homeless shelter to better understand the challenges faced by homeless constituents in her own congressional district, and throughout the nation. Now, she is urging her colleagues to do the same and to intensify efforts to alleviate suffering among homeless Americans. She calls her program the Homeless Shelter Challenge. While her efforts are to be commended, we must also urge other members of Congress to follow her lead and join this important initiative.
In a letter sent by Representative Speier she recounts harrowing stories of the people she met in her night at Maple Street Shelter in Redwood City, California. She writes:
“A veteran at the shelter I met was raped while serving in the military and was dishonorably discharged because she was honest in admitting she was gay during the old “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. Her life has spiraled downward since being kicked out of the military for being raped and honest.”
Representative Speier is correct in insisting that all Americans, both veterans and non-veterans, deserve better when they’ve fallen on hard times. Her office has stated that several congressional officials have expressed strong interest in participating, but also that the representative has no plans of slowing down her campaign for greater empathy among her colleagues. She has even taken to circulating the letter and her call to action on the House floor.
Urge Congress today to get on board with this important challenge and to make improving conditions for homeless Americans a serious priority. Representative Speier said it best herself when she wrote in the letter, “To more effectively tackle the issue of homelessness, Congress first needs to gain a better understanding of whom is impacted by homelessness, the specific challenges the homeless face, and what policy decisions we can make to change the equation.”
Dear U.S. Congress,
Representative Jackie Spier has begun a bold new challenge to encourage empathy for the homeless among U.S. congressmen and congresswomen. Her program, The Homeless Shelter Challenge urges participants to spend a night in a homeless shelter in their district in order to better understand the challenges faced by their homeless constituents.
I am urging you today to participate in this important initiative and to recommit to helping the homeless in your district and throughout the nation. Homeless veterans deserve our understanding, our respect, and our help.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Architect of the Capitol via wikimedia commons