August 17, 2011
Advocacy for the Homeless
What is advocacy? The classic definition from Webster’s Dictionary is simply “active support; especially the act of pleading or arguing for something “(Webster’s Dictionary, 2011). To make this definition more specific to advocacy in the Human Services field just a few details need to be added. A more specific, to this field, definition of advocacy would be: to help a particular population by assisting or speaking for them to obtain the services that they need. The number of homeless people in America is alarming. There is an extremely high need for advocacy for the homeless population. “It's estimated that approximately 3.5 million people in the United States, 1.35 million of them children (nearly 40%), are likely to experience homelessness this year” (Murphy, 2009). About 23% of the homeless population is veterans. The first thing an advocate would need to do is to educate themselves on the issues and facts of the population. They need to know things like how and why people have become homeless to get a better understanding. It is also a good idea to spend some firsthand time with the population, maybe in shelters or soup kitchens. They need to also talk with other advocates and service providers for the homeless to understand the needs and what has worked in the past. This is to get advice from others who have helped before you so that you have a better sense of what you need to do to move forward. Education is key to affectively advocating. After becoming educated on the needs of the homeless population and service workers for the population in the community, the next step would be to create a plan of action. Part of the plan of action would be to join other local advocates in the community or local coalition. Together, go to the local government officials because that is where the funding comes from. An advocate would need to attend meetings and...