This year’s National Alliance to End Homelessness Conference = was my sixth to attend as a Street Sense vendor and Director of the People for Fairness Coalition (PFFC). As always, I went to the conference with the hope of expanding the universal human right to housing. Unlike other years, I was joined by six other Street Sense vendors and we were given a place at the conference to display some of our photography.

We had a chance to talk to many conference attendees about our creative work at Street Sense and the advocacy work we engage in at PFFC to end people’s housing instability in Washington. We handed out information sheets and worked the table in between going to workshops designed to help us in our goals.

More important to me was the last day of the conference, when we heard from keynote speaker Matthew Desmond. He told the true stories of many women of color and their plight trying to maintain housing for themselves and their children. He brought tears to my eyes when he spoke of their high rate of eviction and the hard times they go through becoming homeless in America. I was moved by his solution of a universal rights to housing in poor, rural and Black communities.

We at the People for Fairness Coalition, along with our FACE (Focus, Attitude, Commitment to Excellence) vendor advocacy group at Street Sense plan to be on the frontlines in D.C. when the National Law Center to End Homelessness and Poverty launches their “Housing, Not Handcuffs” campaign this  November. PFFC has been advocating for a Human Right to Housing since 2010 and we are excited to have the force of a national campaign behind us.

I have not seen either presidential candidate from the two major parties focus on housing during this election season. When we talk about helping our fellow Americans, it starts with housing. We hope to hold several community forums ahead of the election to making housing a central issue.

Moving forward, I hope to organize at least 12 Street Sense vendors to work on this. I envision them functioning as traditional campaign workers: gaining experience while changing the way we provide help for people and families in need of affordable, sustainable and accessible housing.