Pressing Forward: HerStory Ensemble Protecting Rights of People Experiencing Homelessness

This was a year of transition for HerStory Ensemble on various levels. We lost a beloved supporter, friend, and homeless advocate, Dr. Theresa Randall. The year also provided opportunities to expand the narrative on homelessness by lifting and connecting the social justice considerations of racism, sexism, homophobia, structural, and systemic factors of poverty that perpetuate homelessness across diverse venues. HerStory Ensemble is the only community-based organization in Delaware primarily focused on homeless legislation, and comprised of women experiencing homelessness, formerly homeless, or at risk of homelessness.

My relocation to Washington, D.C. further strengthened our working relationships with our national allies; the National Coalition for the Homeless, and the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty. As a member of the National Coalition for the Homeless Faces of Homelessness Speaker’s Bureau, I have the opportunity to share my story of homelessness in D.C. and around the country. In this capacity I also serve as a lobbyist on Capitol Hill in support of those living in poverty and experiencing homelessness. Every time I share my story, I share the essence of HerStory Ensemble as a community organization in partnership with others to protect the dignity, humanity, and rights of people experiencing homelessness in Delaware, Washington, D.C., and across the country.

HerStory Ensemble’s role as a steering committee member of the “Housing Not Handcuffs” campaign sponsored by the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty provided an experiential and empowered voice to the recent ban by the City of Wilmington of people accused of asking for help in public (“pan handling”), or being in public places and spaces (“loitering”) because they have no where else to go. This resulted in the ACLU of Delaware signing onto the campaign, and HerStory Ensemble forming an allyship with the Community Legal Aid Society, Inc. in Delaware. We continue to protect the rights of people experiencing homelessness by pressing for homeless legislation in Delaware and nationally. We believe that legislators and policymakers must see people experiencing homelessness as their constituents, and not a problem. The people are not the problem. Homelessness is.

A few highlights of our work in 2018 follows:

“Homelessness: Expanding The Narrative and Protecting Rights”- interactive discussion at the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI) Summer Conference;

“Justice Notes”- -community dialogue and musical reflection featuring saxophonist Fostina Dixon at the Delaware Art Museum presented as part of the “Summer of Civil Rights” exhibit commemorating Wilmington 1968;

“Housing, Dignity & Peace”- presentation at MEJAH Bookstore, Claymont , DE for Peace Week Delaware, as a “live” remote radio broadcast by H.O.M.E. Radio., with Dr. Yuma Tomes, Regional Representative Association of Black Psychologists, and MEJAH Bookstore owner Emlyn DeGannes and author of “Affirmations of Intentions for Peace-Filled Living”;

“Housing Is Healthcare”- a community forum offered as part of Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week 2018, in partnership with the National Coalition for the Homeless, and National Health Care for the Homeless Council focused on the impact of homelessness on the health and well-being of people experiencing it.

As we enter 2019, HerStory Ensemble will press forward in its mission to transform how homelessness is addressed, dismantle myths and stereotypes about homelessness, who is homeless, and to promote advocacy and empowerment of people experiencing homelessness. You are invited to visit this page to read our Blog, sign up to receive informational emails, contact us for presentations, or to donate monetarily to support our work. We appreciate your continued support in the New Year.

DeBorah Gilbert White, Ph.D.- Founder/Coordinator, HerStory Ensemble

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DeBorah Gilbert White