When Ending Homelessness Hits Home

Since declaring myself as an actual writer, I’ve been trying to send my essays out for publication attempts prior to posting them on Rough Outlines. My first little success in this regard was an op-ed I wrote for my hometown’s newspaper in response to the changes the area is making around its homeless services system. It’s one thing to be living in our nation’s capital and working on federal initiatives to end homelessness, but it’s another thing when that work literally hits home. Below is an excerpt to my published op-ed on homelessness in Humboldt County, California, and a link to the full article.

After a long workday in our nation’s capital, I received a message from my dad back in Humboldt County.

Photo by: Kate Brown

“Your issues are coming to a head in Frumboldt,” the message read, continuing our inexplicable love of whichever Humboldt County genius decided to combine the words “From” and “Humboldt.”

Accompanying the message was a link to Lost Coast Outpost’s recent article “Leaving the MAC: New Countywide Homelessness Strategy Sparks Concern Among At-Risk Families.”

I moved to the District of Columbia after graduating from college in 2011 with a mission to end homelessness in the United States. Since then, I’ve worked on federal homelessness programs as an analyst with Abt Associates. In this role, I work closely with policymakers at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and also have the chance to speak with communities across the nation about their successes with federal strategies to end homelessness. Doing this work, it’s easy for me to see each day what’s working, and to be inspired by positive changes occurring within the homelessness services sector. However, my work truly hit home for me when I read about it happening back home.

From 3,000 miles away, I’ve followed Humboldt County’s growing struggle with chronic homelessness, and I’ve wanted to get involved and feel like I’m somehow still giving back to my community. When I read that Humboldt County will be redesigning its transitional housing program for families into a model that emphasizes Housing First and rapid re-housing, I finally saw these pie-in-the-sky federal policies I work on landing in my hometown, and it made me smile.

To read the full article, please visit Lost Coast Outpost.

Click here to view more of Kate Brown’s photography and work.

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