My Quest to End Homelessness, Phase 1
Earlier this year, during the annual city budget deliberations, advocates – including me – got embroiled in a struggle against changes to the city’s Homeless Services Reform Act that we worried would increase homelessness in Washington.
In response to loud opposition, the DC City Council made some important revisions to the amendments. Homeless families that fail to place money in an escrow account will no longer face the risk of losing their beds – though they may face sanctions. And the council entirely eliminated a “provisional shelter” amendment that would have allowed families and individuals to be placed in shelters on a temporary basis while the city determined their eligibility for homeless services. And in what seemed like an acknowledgment of the importance of homeless services, a new position was created in city government; an executive director for the city’s Interagency Council on Homelessness (ICH.)
I have been writing for this newspaper and participating in advocacy for the last five years. For the past two years, I have been working under the assumption that no paying job would really fit my current skills. Then the details of the executive director position became public. I got to thinking “this could be me! Why not go for it?” With that, I launched my effort to seek the appointment.
I fully believe that with my experience both as a lifelong resident of Washington and as a homeless person in the city I am the best candidate for the job.
I have planned out my efforts to get the job in phases. During Phase One I emailed the Ward 4 Councilwoman Muriel Bowser in an attempt to get a meeting and while I did not get to meet with the council member herself, I was able to meet with a member of her staff. I had a chance to pass along my resume and cover letter and the meeting made me feel like I was able to engage in a meaningful way. It left me hopeful for more extended conversations with other government officials about the position. Then at a recent ICH meeting held at the 801 East shelter, I was able to hand both the city administrator and the director of the department of human services copies of my resume and cover letter.
With these tasks now completed, I am actively moving toward Phase Two. I ask any readers wishing to help to please do your best to support Reginald Black for Executive Director of the ICH.