Last Friday, February 15th, when the UN Commission of Social Development (CSocD) decided that the priority theme for their 58th meeting in 2020 would be “Affordable Housing and Social Protection for all to address Homelessness” and with this my heart brought to mind the memory of the day when the global Vincentian Family decided to work together to end homelessness in 2017.

At the UN these things don’t just happen. They take a lot of advocacy behind the stage where decisions are announced. The United Nations NGO Working Group to End Homelessness (WGEH), one of the fruits of the decision of the Vincentian Family in 2017, worked tirelessly in the past year to achieve this.  The original idea for this kind of advocacy work is in the strategic plan of the FV Homeless Alliance. This particular work we are doing here at the UN is deeply connected with that plan. Another example of the initiatives we are working on is the following:

On February 9-10 of this year in collaboration with the Institute for Global Homelessness we, WGEH, put together a conference with global experts to help us design a comprehensive strategy for advocacy at all levels, from the local to the global, to end homelessness.

This was an exploratory meeting to consider how United Nations processes could help move forward shared efforts toward global measurement of homelessness, a global goal related to homelessness and raise the profile of homelessness globally. The first day, we invited experts on various UN processes to speak with the group, to encourage deep understanding around possible areas for intervention. The second day we synthesized this information and facilitated the group toward decisions about what steps to take next.

During the meetings we were able to set the context for what we want to achieve between now and 2030. Our starting suggestion is that involvement with the UN would have three objectives: a) raise the global profile of homelessness; b) achieve a global measurement of homelessness; and c) achieve agreement on a global goal related to homelessness.

We understand that our work at the UN is related to influence the development of social policy that ultimately will benefit all those of our sisters and brothers in the peripheries of society.  This is a long and complex process that many times begins with the simple identification of issues that are affecting people and that are not reflected in the discussions and decisions of policy makers.

Homelessness has been systemically ignored in the UN global political discussions till now.  There is not one resolution – agreed language – about it, the word is not even mentioned in any official documents. This is why our first advocacy effort has been to introduce language in any official document to be able to ‘normalize’ a conversation and a decision-making process, for instance, about a global measurement of homelessness.

Now that HOMELESSNESS has been included in the priority theme of the CSocD 2020 a big window has been opened for us to move our advocacy strategy agenda forward. We will share with you any advancement of our work.  I asked Chris Herlinger of the Global Sisters Report permission to share with you this article that was published last week.  This is a good representation of our work and our collective efforts, please click the link below.

Global Sisters Report: Working group urges UN to step up the fight against homelessness

Guillermo Campuzano, CM is the Congregation of the Mission UN representative


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