I know how hard this work is on a daily basis because I’ve been there. I’ve been at the homeless service provider and Continuum of Care (CoC) levels, working endless hours to make sure that people in my community get housed. Though I now work at the national level, I stand in awe at all the work that providers have accomplished and sacrificed for over the past two years.
As a provider, I would often lay awake at night thinking, “did I make the right decision, and could this make homeless people’s lives worse?” I’m sure if I was a provider now these thoughts would turn to, “Could my decisions about COVID make homelessness worse?” And as a former CoC lead, I know how persistent the anxiety is, and how endless the work can be.
The past two years, it has felt like there is so much darkness and stress and grief around us, and it never stops. I want to deeply acknowledge just how hard it has been. I have heard from dozens of providers during the pandemic about how exhausted they are. I cannot even begin to imagine what this feels like now.
But yet you get up every day and keep going, because of your passion and commitment to ending homelessness in your community, and your commitment to keep unhoused people safe during this pandemic.
You have put your families and yourselves at risk to serve people who are most vulnerable in your communities.
You have worked day in and day out – late nights, early mornings, weekends, unexpected hours – to ensure that people in this ongoing crisis can have their basic needs met.
You have been creative and resourceful in ways that are nothing short of heroic.
People in this field are not in this field for the paycheck; they’re not in the field for the hours, or for the glory. People have chosen this work because of their compassion to end homelessness and their belief that homelessness can be ended.
Recognizing Your Impact
What you do every day matters. In the midst of this crisis, you have stepped up.
I want to recognize the reality of just by you coming to work every day, you did impact homelessness. So many people have all gone into their boxes and said, “I’m scared of this, and I’m not going anywhere and I just can’t do this work.”
But you didn’t say that. You came, and you showed up. And people are alive because of that.
If the homeless sector had not continued working the way it did, there would be so much more homelessness, there would have been so many more COVID cases, there would have been so many more illnesses, so much more death. Shelters would have had to close down. Had we not done what we did, the resources wouldn’t have been there to get people through.
Providers have made a difference in ending homelessness during the pandemic – and continue to do so every single day. By being here, and staying here, you are chipping away at the problem of homelessness – not just in your community, but nationwide.
Homeless service providers, your work does not go unnoticed. From one (former) provider to another, I am so grateful for your work, each and every day – it truly makes a difference.