News Article

Bruce Lesley: Politicians should spend time in homeless shelters to grasp real needs

Housing & Homelessness

Capital Times (WIsconsin)

As president of First Focus Campaign for Children, it’s encouraging that the region is getting new resources to help the homeless (“Permanent housing for homeless wins $5.4 million in low-income tax credits,” May 2), but homelessness is changing. A practical next step: Policymakers should talk with homeless families.

Congresswoman Jackie Speier did, spending a night in a California homeless shelter. She met full-time workers earning too little to make rent. People with careers derailed by the recession. And she met children.

More than 1 million homeless children live in America today, including more than 15,000 in Wisconsin. Some in shelters. Others in hotel rooms one night, friends’ couches the next, then the family car. But most of us, including policymakers, have an outdated picture of homelessness.

Let’s change that. Call your congressional representatives. Urge them to take Congresswoman Speier’s “Homeless Shelter Challenge.” Help them understand what homeless families need, so they’re better able to help.

Bruce Lesley

Washington, D.C.