Three members of our Journey Home Team boarded a plane last month bound for Houston, Texas. Why Houston? Well, Houston was home to this year’s National Alliance to End Homeless (NAEH) Annual Conference on Ending Family and Youth Homelessness. Our team reports that the conference far exceeded their very big expectations.

This annual conference was two days chock-full of workshops and forums with providers from across the country. A wide variety of topics were discussed with an strong emphasis on Rapid Rehousing and Progressive Engagement. Both of these important strategies are already being implemented throughout our state and, because of this, Connecticut is actually viewed as a leader in the country for ending homelessness. Rapid Rehousing refers to the program that assists those who are experiencing homelessness become quickly rehoused and stabilized. Progressive Engagement refers to a strategy of providing a small amount of assistance to everyone entering the homelessness system, and increasing the amount of assistance as necessary.

Our team reports that one of the highlights of the conference were the speakers. The keynote address by Richard Hooks Wayman, National Executive Director of Children’s Defense Fund in Washington, D.C. was definitely a fan favorite. He encouraged attendees to “confront the narrative, focus on solutions, and keep showing up…” We have to keep showing up for all of our clients experiencing homelessness. We need to focus on solutions rather than managing homelessness. That is something we constantly strive to do as we continue our work here at Journey Home.

It was truly inspiring for our Journey Home staff members to see what other agencies are doing in regards to youth homelessness. One of the most impressive components of what is being done is including youth with lived experience as a part of the solution. “Nothing about us without us” was a common thread that was repeated over and over again. When you include youth who have experienced homelessness, you really do get a better sense of what’s working and what isn’t.

Our staff was incredibly grateful for this opportunity and reinforced for all of us why we do this work. We do it because everyone deserves a home!