Celebrating Innovation and Excellence

Last week, the National Alliance to End Homelessness proudly presented its 2017 Innovation and Excellence Awards to three deserving honorees at the Alliance’s annual Awards Ceremony.

Service providers, dedicated sponsors, elected officials, and others gathered together at the Knight Conference Center at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. to celebrate the unique achievements of the awardees.

Rob Parritt, director of Oxford Street Shelter in Portland, Maine, accepted an Excellence award on behalf of the shelter for its visionary “Long Term Stayers Initiative.”

“The work that we do is really hard. We did it the easy way for a long time, and it didn’t make a difference,” Parritt remarked, addressing the paradigm shifts that had to occur for Oxford Street to start housing the chronically homeless population of Portland.

Ed Blackburn, Executive Director Emeritus of Central City Concern (Portland, OR), expressed a similar sentiment of adaptation and hope as he accepted Central City’s award for Excellence.

“Despite all of our fears, frustrations, and traumas, we can all still manage to do wonderful things.”

And Central City Concern has certainly done some wonderful things: growing from its roots in substance abuse treatment in the 1970s, the organization now serves over 13,000 individuals annually in the Portland metro area and provides affordable housing, healthcare, recovery, and employment.

Finally, the Alliance honored Los Angeles County for its unprecedented Homeless Initiative, highlighting the importance of system-level responses to homelessness.

Accepting the Innovation award, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, chair of the LA County Board of Supervisors, referenced this same commitment.

“In a county as prosperous as LA,” he declared, “homelessness is a moral crisis.”

The Alliance honors and recognizes each of these awardees for their tireless work in ending homelessness. Their creative, research-based solutions  don’t just impact their own communities, but also communities nationwide that will benefit from their innovation and excellence.

As Alliance President and CEO Nan Roman summarized, these awardees “show us the path to setting new standards for excellence, to meeting obstacles, and innovating around them.”

Congratulations to the 2017 Innovation and Excellence Awardees!