Advocacy for the Homeless

November 10, 2015

Ever wonder what it means to be an advocate for the homeless? As I am partner at a global law firm, Dentons U.S., my answer could focus on advocacy in the sense of a lawyer making a passionate closing argument or developing a clever solution to help her client. While that is certainly one, important meaning of the word, the term advocate encompasses so much more.

In a community like San Diego, which has more than 8,000 homeless people but also a great network of service providers, opportunities for advocacy abound. The following is a summary of recent, more significant advocacy efforts in or connected to San Diego:

  • On November 1, 2015, the San Diego Rescue Mission garnered significant media attention by organizing a march in downtown San Diego as a remembrance for the 91 homeless people who died on the streets of San Diego between September 2014 and September 2015.
  • A homeless man from San Diego commenced a bike ride across the country to bring attention to the needs of homeless veterans. Unfortunately, this story took a tragic turn as the man recently died from injuries suffered when he was hit by a car in Texas.
  • Former California Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins and others proposed Assembly Bill 1434 to establish a permanent source of funding for affordable housing in general and permanent supportive housing for the homeless in particular. The bill was not adopted, but it highlighted this important issue.

Believe me, I am not suggesting you must spend the next three years in law school or become the head of the State Assembly to serve as an advocate for the homeless. To the contrary, I merely hope to inspire you to ask how you can help.

In fact, as you are still reading this, my goal now is to make things easy for you. For example, you can be an advocate for the homeless by participating in one of the HomeAid San Diego events identified in the following link: http://www.homeaidsd.org/get-involved/community-outreach/. Throughout November, supporters and friends of HomeAid San Diego are working with some of our great social service agency partners like Interfaith Community Services, Alpha Project, Father Joe’s Villages and Noah’s Homes on special events and generally getting out the word about homelessness in San Diego. Alternatively, or additionally, you can donate money to HomeAid San Diego or one of the other partner organizations identified on HomeAid San Diego’s website (http://www.homeaidsd.org/partners/service-providers/). Such a gift allows you to leverage your individual contribution far beyond what you could do on your own.

At the end of the day, all I ask is that you do something. As in other urban areas, San Diego’s homeless population is too large and the need is too great. However, with a relatively small act, you can be an advocate for those less fortunate and make a real difference in someone’s life.

 

Brian C. Fish

HomeAid San Diego Board of Directors

Partner, Dentons

www.dentons.com