Each year in July the National Alliance to End Homelessness (NAEH) hosts the National Conference on Ending Homelessness. The conference addresses issues such as the Federal Budget’s effects on a community’s ability to respond to people experiencing homelessness and strategies on ending chronic homelessness. The staff of Catholic Services of Acadiana greatly values professional development and on an organizational level we implement the nationally recognized, evidence based solutions to ending homelessness highlighted at this conference each year. We send members of our staff to learn about effective and innovative ideas that are emerging on a national level.
It was at this conference in 2012 that we solidified our participation in the 100,000 Homes Campaign, a national movement coordinated by New York-based non-profit, Community Solutions. Since joining the campaign in September 2012, Catholic Services of Acadiana has housed more than 670 homeless individuals as part of this national effort. We were placed in the elite “2.5% Club” for contributing to the downward trend in homelessness by rehousing 2.5% of Lafayette’s chronically homeless people every month.
Our staff achieved this success by learning each of our homeless neighbors’ name, prioritizing their vulnerability, adopting the Housing First approach, tracking our progress, and assisting people access the supports needed to maintain their housing.
“Our involvement in the 100,000K Homes Campaign, with the tools, network and resources it provided, made a significant impact on our work, motivating us to focus our services on ending homelessness rather than managing it,” said Catholic Services of Acadiana’s Msgr. Sigur Center Director, Autumn dela Houssaye.
This year at the National Conference on Ending Homelessness we were invited to participate in an exclusive reception celebrating the success of the 100,000 Homes Campaign. This reception was held in the Indian Treaty Room at the White House with a special message from Vice President Joe Biden. Eric Gammons, Catholic Services of Acadiana’s Director of Operations who attended said, “I was honored to represent our organization at the White House ceremony celebrating those housing over 100,000 people experiencing long term homelessness. Being in a room with so many people who have worked so hard to attain this goal was a privilege, but at the same time I know from experience that the work has actually just begun.”
Community Solutions is beginning Zero: 2016, a new nationwide campaign which has a goal to end veteran and chronic homelessness for good by the year 2016. With proper resources and community support we believe that this goal is attainable here in Acadiana.