Who should we be doing outreach to in an effort to continue moving the Comprehensive Plan to End Homelessness forward?
Suggested tactics and tools for community outreach
- Organize a panel of homeless or formerly homeless that could speak to churches, service groups, neighborhood councils, law enforcement, fire department, medical providers.
- Infographics on the realities of how people become homeless to counter misinformation and biases.
- More civic education about issues like homelessness throughout the county, especially in the more rural areas.
- Hold public meetings, sign onto petitions to support the plan, distribute the poster developed by the SS4A media workgroup on paths to homelessness and use material such as the wonderful presentation Patricia did for the Coalition a while ago along with discussion and conversation.
- Elected officials may not be aware of the work of small programs in doing outreach to people living homeless, and how govt approaches may make it difficult to maintain the relationships that outreach workers are developing.
- Perhaps offer in-service or continuing credit options for educators and public service employees (including fire & law enforcement)
- Even though there is a corrupting influence of money in politics, state legislators can use their positions as bully pulpits.
- Discussed the dual meaning of outreach here, as coalition outreach to elected and the realities of outreach community work and the essential focus of relationships in both.
Groups, institutions, coalitions, alliances and people to engage
- Engage the currently homeless population to let them know they are not alone and inform about the plan. Find out what their real needs are and their reasons for declining shelter. Are they traumatized? Have they been the victim of crime while in a shelter? Do they need low barrier shelter (as in accepting partners & pets)?
- We need to engage the general public with information about the plan and efforts to deal with misinformation and misconceptions.
- Getting information to libraries for staff to be able to reach out to individuals needing resources (libraries in Tacoma often deal with individuals experiencing homelessness on a daily basis)
- Labor unions, contractors, Chamber of Commerce, other groups involved with homelessness like Tacoma Safe, Compassion Tacoma, Democratic Socialists, Landlord Assoc, Tacoma Tenants Union, Pierce Transit, service clubs, ie Rotary, etc, community councils; real estate and landlord organizations.
- Tacoma Ministerial Alliance and other faith community groups. Faith-based outreach gets to regular folks out in the community.
- Be aware of the importance of building commitment of Tacoma City Council to the county plan, given what appears to be a cautiousness by city council (not staff).
- Intentional outreach to elected officials in the County’s smaller cities (councils and planning commissions), to make sure they fully understand the plan and its benefits.
- In person outreach to Governor, City Mayors and Council Members. Bring people with lived experiences as speakers.
- McKinney Vento program people in each school district for outreach about the Comp Plan. Lots of potential for engagement of parents and kids in school system. Because school system homeless count includes doubled up and couch surfers, it’s both a sympathetic population and a shockingly large one. Parents need better access to resources.
- Work with neighborhood councils, business districts, Tacoma Business Alliance, etc., to find areas of agreement for joint advocacy.
- Network in your own neighborhoods (training to know what resources are available and how to access them) reaching out to HOA's, getting neighbors involved (possibly retired individuals that want to volunteer).
Off-topic but worth saying
- Removing barriers helps people obtain affordable housing. Ask landlords who have housing units available to relax their strict screening criteria.