The Meaning of “Home”
It has been four years since the Coaltion for Nonprofit Housing & Econimic Development (CNHED) launched its “Housing for All Campaign,” and on February 7, 2015, CNHED held its fourth annual Housing for All rally. This year’s rally comes as a new mayoral administration comes to power in Washington, D.C.
CNHED held a writing contest in which the youth and the community came together to present, “what is home to me.” Anyia Ward wrote, “To me, my home is not materialistic things. Home is a place I could be.” She said, “Home is where I live, but I think otherwise my home is in music. I’m grateful to have a place to lay my head. Home is a place I can learn from my mistakes.”
I used to be homeless, but I made it. Let’s hope that all the homeless in Washington, D.C. make it. Alvinn Coates says, “I was a single male who was preparing to buy a home by cutting my expenses. These things alone helped me increase my credit score, but they did not help me buy a home. Like a gift from God, Manna [Manna, Inc., a non-profit housing re-developer] came into my life. Homeless Prevention Activities Program (HPAP) was a plan that allowed me to borrow up to $50,000 dollars for free. I’m here now to say. Let other people have the opportunity I had.”
Waldon Adams described chronic homelessness as a recurring constant, treatment-resistant, and hard-to-eradicate problem. “I’ve been homeless since I was 18,” he said. He found out six years ago that he had contracted HIV. “I didn’t have anyplace to go. Today is my birthday. In a month, I will have gone six years without drugs and alcohol. Next week, I’m running my thirteenth marathon. Somebody like me would have never made it [without housing support].”
Mayor Bowser said she is “always happy to be at a Housing for All rally” and that she believes in building a Washington. D.C. that works for everybody–that is affordable for all Washingtonians.
“The Neighborhood Assistance Corporation for America (NACA) helped me buy my first house,” she said. “When I think about $100 million [to be spent on affordable housing], I know we have to think about the entire spectrum. We can do it with the right commitments. My commitment is not housing or shelter for a night, but a home.” She added, “Some people are a little mad at me right now because of some ideas that haven’t worked so well. We are going to take a hard look at them.”
Mayor Bowser has inherited a budget deficit for this coming year. She praised those who advocate for housing. “You know how to advocate in a strategic way. This year we are going to ask you what you think before we put our pens down on the budget. When you have good jobs and good wages, you have a lot of places to live in the District of Columbia.”