Homeless Speakers Bureau hopes to bring awareness to Michigan homeless population.
In 2016, 66,483 Michiganders experienced homelessness, including children, veterans, families, and seniors.
The public doesn’t often interact with this invisible population, and for many their perceptions of homelessness are based on media images or individuals on street corners.
There aren’t opportunities to hear personal stories about how the experience of homelessness affects someone’s life, the struggles of finding housing and support, and how many are simply a few paychecks away from homelessness.
The Michigan Coalition Against Homelessness hopes to bring these stories into our communities through the new Michigan Homeless Speakers Bureau to increase empathy, educate decision makers, and create solutions for preventing and ending homelessness in Michigan.
The Speakers Bureau is a platform for those who have experienced homelessness in Michigan to share their stories and raise awareness about this pressing issue.
The 2018 inaugural class is composed of 8 individuals who are trained, prepared and available to speak at organized events about their personal experiences with homelessness.
They represent communities across lower Michigan and speak from diverse experiences of homelessness, including sleeping in cars, shelters, and the streets due to evictions, domestic abuse, lack of familial support, incarceration, and issues related to mental health.
The public’s perception of homelessness is often based on what we have been conditioned to expect: someone who has chosen or deserves homelessness due to personal decisions regarding substance abuse, unwillingness to work, or other distasteful habits.
This is an inaccurate and dangerous way to view a condition that is often outside of an individual’s control.
In recent years Michigan has seen an increase in families becoming homeless because they can’t afford the rising costs of rent, in seniors who don’t have a safety net once they reach retirement age, and in youth and women – often fleeing from domestic abuse.
Often, a family is just one emergency away from being unable to afford their home.
The new Homeless Speakers Bureau will change the conversation around homelessness to regularly include the voices of those who have personally experienced it.
This will create an informed audience, from decision makers to the general public, who will have access to accurate depictions of the homeless experience and will begin to reverse the stigmatization of homelessness and those experiencing homelessness.
Only by better understanding homelessness – real homelessness and the individuals and families who have experienced it – can we hope to end it.
For more information, please visit the Michigan Homeless Speakers Bureau website at www.mihomelessvoice.org.
The Michigan Coalition Against Homelessness (MCAH) manages the Michigan Homeless Speakers Bureau. MCAH, a statewide, non-profit agency, is dedicated to creating a sustainable, statewide voice and the infrastructure and systemic change needed to empower communities to end homelessness. For more information about the Speakers Bureau, MCAH, or the issue of homelessness please visit MCAH’s website at www.mihomeless.org.