Vote for Homes Coalition demands presidential candidates focus on the homeless

April 21, 2008

The Vote for Homes Coalition held a rally today in front of the National Constitution Center to encourage people to vote in tomorrow’s primary, and to pressure the presidential candidates to give the issues of housing and homelessness more consideration.

Roughly 150 people gathered to hear Coalition members voice their concerns. Behind the speakers, other Coalition members stood wearing blindfolds to represent the blinders presidential candidate have on with respect to homelessness.

Vote for Homes Rally”We are here today to call on the presidential candidates to honestly confront the crisis of homelessness and to offer constructive policies to resolve this crisis,” said Sister Mary Scullion of Project HOME.

“We want to hear from our presidential candidates how they’re going to end homelessness today,” continued Sister Scullion. “We want to feel a sense of urgency from our elected officials that they feel the plight of people that are living on our streets. “

Sister Scullion also spoke about the power homeless voters can have in this election:

Thousands of homeless people in Philadelphia are registered to vote. And we’re waiting for some positive, meaningful messages from our presidential candidates. And so far, we have heard nothing. We cannot allow people who are experiencing homelessness to continue to be invisible in this campaign.

Some speakers voiced concern with the Democratic debate held in Philadelphia last week. Reverend Bill Golderer of the Broad Street Ministry said, “We have a problem that’s bigger than the so-called Jeremiah Wright problem. We have a bigger problem confronting us tomorrow than the so-called sniper fire problem. We have a bigger problem than going back and forth about whether Pennsylvanians are bitter or not bitter.”

Others spoke about how federal programs have helped them when they were homeless, and how those programs are still important today.

Hyacinth King, a formerly homeless woman now with Vote for Homes, said, “Thanks to having the right support, I have been stable mentally and have been substance free for a little more than eleven years. My support system, which I still need from time to time, would not be possible without Section 8 vouchers which are made available by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.”

“I present myself to you today,” continued Ms. King, “to show what can happen when federal resources are well invested.”

The Vote for Homes Coalition is a non-partisan advocacy group for the homeless that registers people to vote. It’s part of Project HOME, a major housing and service provider for the homeless in Philadelphia. Call the Vote For Homes Information Line at 215-232-7272 ex.3106 if you need help getting to the polls in Philadelphia.

Bethesda Project, Horizon House, the Mental Health Association of Southeast Pennsylvania, and the Homeless Advocacy Project were also involved in the rally.

Hear Hyacinth King’s full speech (click triangle to hear clip):

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