Friday, August 28, 2009

HHH Has a New Blog

Thanks to the re-design of the Urban Ministry Center website, HHH now has a new blogsite on the UMC website. You can visit the new blog at:

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

HHH Takes On Capitol Hill

Nine members of HHH traveled to Washington, DC to learn and advocate. All members participated in the National Alliance to End Homelessness conference, to gain knowledge of America's best practices for ending homelessness.

For many members, the highlight of the conference was hearing from new HUD secretary Sean Donovan and his vision for HUD playing a role in ending homelessness. Very inspiring!

On the last day of the conference, members took their knowledge and experience to Capitol Hill to meet with the offices of Representatives Myrick and Watt, and Senator Burr.

In addition, members visited Miriam's Kitchen, a local DC soup kitchen and met with members of their new advocacy group to offer encouragement and to learn from their experience. See below for photo shots of the trip to DC.

Robert Munn, Rob Weigle, Michael Norton, and Bobby Gaffney sport HHH clothing line.
The group at a dinner out in Chinatown, joined by DC-ite Ingrid Drake.

Member Dawoud Assad, who grew up in DC, shows off a favorite childhood spot.

Bobby and Robert outside GWU, by Miriam's Kitchen

Members from Homeless Services Network outside Rep. Watt's Office

The conference overlapped with the Homeless U.S.A. Cup, so the group went to support Charlotte's players, which included two members of HHH - Osman Mohammed and Luis Alvarez.

HHH Goes to Raleigh

In light of crushing cuts to the state's mental health system, 10 members of HHH boarded a van to take their case to the state capital on Tuesday, July 21st.

Homelessness and mental illness have a historical link, most notably in the late 1970's and early 1980's when the shutting down of America's mental health hospitals led to a significant rise in people living on the street. Members of HHH wanted to make sure lawmakers understood that their proposed cuts to the mental health system would mean a rise in homelessness and in incarceration. The cuts would cut out most of the case management support services provided to individuals living with mental illness.

The group of 10 split into two smaller groups to ensure we could meet with every member representing Mecklenburg County. While face-to-face meetings did not happen with everyone, at least our information got to every office.

HHH considered the trip a great success. Not only did we being to build relationships with state legislatures and build confidence of members, but in addition, when the budget passed, an additional $990 million was put back into mental health budget. While this still represents a cut, it was much less than originally proposed.

HHH looks forward to future advocacy opportunities.

Beginning a Parntership with the Police

After months of awaiting a response, then a cancelled meeting, HHH finally had a meeting set-up with Police Chief Rodney Monroe, on Wednesday, July 1st. Ten minutes before the meeting was set to begin, three Police Department employees arrived. They explained that they were there to represent Chief Monroe, who would be unable to attend. Ray Tarasovic, Monroe's Chief of Staff, Deputy Chief Harold Medlock, and Sergeant David Moorfield, who oversees the uptown area, joined HHH for our Wednesday meeting.

Their presence brought much interest - we had our largest HHH crowd to date with over 40 people packed in the room.

Much of the time was spent by the police, led Ray Tarasovic, (who could give any politician a run for their money), explaining the police perspective. There was limited time for q & a, much of which was spent on individuals expressing their personal experiences with police.

Deputy Chief Medlock stole the show, winning over the community by sharing his memory of the murder of Angela Davis, who though homeless, was robbed at gunpoint. When she refused to give up her purse, really her only possession, she was shot and killed. Medlock reminded the community that the police are here to protect and that he is haunted by that memory.

The meeting was certainly the beginning of a much longer conversation. Several interesting points arose - why homeless individuals get arrested for trespassing, why the homeless more likely to get locked up then to receive a citation, and that loitering is not actually against the law.

HHH decided to have a smaller group follow-up with a Deputy Chief Medlock to have a more strategic conversation about partnership.

We are still hopeful that one day the homeless community will get to meet with Chief Monroe.

Monday, July 20, 2009

In Memory of Jerry Gray

The angel of death stalked Jerry in 2006, taking with her his twin brother and wife. The devastation left Jerry deeply depressed, leading him to escape from home to life on the streets. His doctor encouraged him to “stay busy” to keep his grief at bay. Jerry began working with HHH clean-up efforts. His dynamic nature and commitment made him a natural leader for the clean-up crew, when his predecessor had to step away from the post. With his passion for cleaning-up our streets, the mere presence of Jerry could cause of group of individuals to scurry to pick up their litter. Jerry completed his first radio interview in November ’07, and found that he was also a natural media spokesperson.

In 2009, the angel of death came back for Jerry. He fought against diabetes and congestive heart failure, but died on June 20, 2009. We will miss Jerry's kindness, commitment, and laughter. Thank you, Jerry, for all the gifts you shared with HHH.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

HHH Dance Full of Fun!

HHH pulled of another successful dance - bringing together the housed and homeless for a night of fun and conversation. While the turnout was smaller than in years past, the dancing was no less impassioned. Beyond the bridge-building that occurred, the group was also successful in raising almost $1,000 to go towards the trip to Washington, DC later this month for the National Alliance to End Homelessness Conference. A huge thank you to St. Martin's Epsicopal for hosting us and to Extranganza Events & Props for the incredibly generous donation of all our decorations.

WFAE reporter Julie Rose put together a great report about the dance that you can listen to at:

See below for more photos:

County Commissioner George Dunlap showing off his smooth moves.

Stapleton-Davidson Interns Jacqui and Willie. Jacqui won this year's HHH dance contest.

Patsy Kinsey, City Council Represetnative, cuts a rug.

A crowd gathers around the HHH board, to learn more about the group's work.

At-Large County Commissioner Dan Murray, refreshes with some punch.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Join HHH for our Annual Dance

Please join Homeless Helping Homeless for our third annual community Dance: Street Beat. Enjoy the rhythm and joy of dance together - no matter your age, race, or housing status. Come, meet someone new, share your story and allow others to tell you theirs. Funds raised will help send members of HHH to the annual National Alliance to End Homelessness conference in Washington D.C. at the end of July.

You can purchase tickets online at:
Make a donation of $10 and under the comment section specify "HHH Dance." Your name will be on a list at the door of the dance.

You can also buy tickets at Urban Ministry Center, by phone at 704-926-0608 or at the door.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Poetry Draws Attention at Budget Hearing

Homeless Helping Homeless urged the County Commission at last week’s budget hearing to protect money for homeless programs. The group wrote a poem to express its concerns:
From Homeless Helping Homeless
We thank you for all you’ve done
With the monies you have given
A few of our wars are won.
We pray you protect the funding
Of those of us in need
And continue to support the agencies
Sowing important seeds.
The poem drew laughter and praise from those in the hearing. In fact, the group picked up a mention in the Charlotte Observer’s coverage the next day:

The hearing lasted more than three hours, though it ended about 90 minutes sooner than county staff had predicted. Some speakers were straight and to the point. A few, like the group Homeless Helping Homeless, recited poetry. One of the group's members also drew a few laughs when she asked commissioners whether there was a secret bank account the county could use to help with the budget.
-From “Don't deepen cuts, speakers urge” from Friday, May 29th in the Charlotte Observer. (For the complete article:

HHH member Robert Munn comments, “I think it made a positive impact on the commissioners.” He notes how the Commissioners remained seated and attentive during the presentation, which seems to be rare in such meetings.
To see the HHH presentation, go to:
Click on the May 28th meeting and fast forward to 1:44.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Views from Our Shoes

The Solidarity Sleepout - organized by HHH on May 1, 2009 to draw attention to the need for mre year-round shelter beds - was a great success. Below, three HHH Members write their perspective on the event.

Shot Heard Around the World By Rollon Washington

One of the greatest things that has ever come to Charlotte was that night for me to see so many homeless people, churches, homeless providers, private sectors, along with a host of city and state officials showing up for one cause – to help end homelessness by the way of more year-round shelter. More attention to the 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness alone will make action possible to start ending homelessness in Charlotte, NC. I must say I truly hope the Solidarity Sleep-out was a shot heard around the world.

Saturday Morning Reflections By Elijah Kelly

The HHH “Solidarity Sleepout” as a Wow!! Er, that should have been all capital letters. You’ve heard “Hitch Your Wagon to a Star?” Well, on May 1, 2009 HHH and about 500 other supporters of our cause “ending homelessness” including the Honorable Sue Myrick, former Mayor of Charlotte, NC now Congress Woman, Anthony Foxx, Charlotte City Council member and Democratic Candidate for Mayor of “The Queen City of the South,” Jennifer Roberts, our present chair of County Commissioners, along with a long list of other city leaders and leaders of organizations, came together in force to show their support.

I’m sure that I can speak on behalf of all members of HHH and the “Homeless Community” in thanking all participants in sharing their time and the interest – that we all have the same objective “Ending Homelessness.” I was truly overwhelmingly excited at the interest shown by visitors while welcoming them and their wanting to know more about “HHH” and how they can become involved. A special thanks to all members of HHH – everyone went beyond the call of duty to ensure this be the successful event that it turned out to be. Many blessing to all members of the clergy – and without a doubt, the melodious voices of “Gospel Shadow of Charlotte, NC” (Psalm 100:1 – Make a joyful noise onto the Lord all ye lands.”)

Mama Betty’s tucked us snugly in with a powerful session of prayer. On the light side, there were baptisms one on purpose as this one individual had apparently marinated himself in the sauce – and the other accidentally invaded the territorial rights of the duck. Yup, he’d also been sauced.

Well good Saturday morning to all. I was again overjoyed at looking across Marshall Park at the number of people camped out including families that left their homes to share with us. Thank you.

On my way to pack my belongings there is was in the sky “God’s Promise” – A rainbow! “HHH’s Solidarity Sleepout could not have ended on a better note that “A Rainbow.” I would like to end this note with scripture from Romans 8:24-25
“For it was by hope that we were saved, but if we see what we hope for then it’s not really hope, for who of us hopes for something we see. But if we hope for something we do not see, we wait for it with patience”

A View form our Shoes by Dawoud Assad

The Homeless Helping Homeless “Solidarity Sleep-out” is the largest public event that I have assisted on putting on. More importantly than the confidence that I feel we as a group can accomplish anything we set our minds to do, is what I have learned form the experience.

We have taken upon ourselves that responsibility of being “The voice of the Homeless” we must also understand that to be that voice, we must keep all parties engaged in the process and see it through to the end. Politicians speak very differently at rallies and advocacy events than they do when they are soliciting our votes. At these events they speak of all the ills, failures, and inadequacies of the past and what should and could be done to correct hem. But, immediately after their dissertations, it’s back to business as usual. It is our responsibility to make use of their quotable quotes to keep them engaged in making “homelessness” and its solutions a priority during their terms of office. We must make them feel that the greatest accomplishment of their political life is having ended homelessness.

We must also make it our responsibility to create the forum for all interested and not interested parties to do whatever it takes to eliminate the opprobrious condition of homelessness on our community, state, and nation. The United States finds the wherewithal to spend billions of dollars to aid and rebuild other countries for humanitarian and “national security” reasons, without ever seeing that ending homelessness here in America carries the same weight.

If nothing else, I have learned that if we truly wish to be “the voice of the homeless” our strategy must also be to find, suggest and implement workable solutions.

Solidarity Sleepout Draws Media Attention

The Solidarity Sleep-Out drew media attention from local radio, tv, and newsaper. See below for just a few of the links: