Sue Campbell returned from Kansas City Friday night after spending the week there attending the National Healthcare For the Homeless Council conference, where she received the esteemed Ellen Dailey Award for her outstanding advocacy and work with the homeless community in Las Cruces, NM. As well as attending numerous workshops, she also participated in a rally, and networked with many amazing people, including the Western Regional Advocacy Project (WRAP) who’s slogan is “House Keys NOT Handcuffs”. She said that we should be expecting several different groups of visitors over the next months of homeless advocates interested in “hands-on” learning about the Camp Hope project.
The grassroots movement she was introduced to coincided, fortunately, with the Denver “Urban Camping Ban” which was put into effect mid last week, which seems to be the antithesis of what our project is accomplishing here in Las Cruces.The pro effort claim that it is neither safe or civilized to allow homeless to “camp out”, albeit usually hidden, citing permanent camps having sanitation issues, and that congregations of homeless are intimidating to tourists and business owners. They also claim that the long-term best interests for the homeless will be served by this ban by opening up more shelter beds for the summer. The Colorado Coalition For the Homeless, however, are opposed to this measure and have repeatedly urged the city of Denver to avoid politics that may criminalize homeless people. They also cited the negative impacts for homeless in gaining and sustaining housing and employment, on direct services and and service providers, on health, on education attainment, and on the criminal justice system. Overall, Housing First initiatives from many different state’s examples are not only drastically more cost effective than investing in such a “Ban” , but also more successful in terms of recovery and reintegration of many different demographic groups of homeless people, like Foundation Communities in Austin, TX have demonstrated.
On Saturday morning, when Sue delivered the mail to folks at MVCH, which she always does, she handed me some great literature from her conference. I could see how excited she was, like a breath of fresh air, to experience activism for the homeless she represents here in another city with dedicated people from many cities across the U.S. coming together to organize and stand up for homeless civil rights. Like in Rhode Island where they are in the process of introducing a Homeless Bill of Rights to the Senate and House to ensure Rhode Islanders who experience homelessness are granted the same rights, privileges, and access to public services as any other citizen. The movement Camp Hope is part of is also part of Sue Campbell’s legacy as a homeless advocate, and a testament to MVCH and the Las Cruces community who are stepping up to the forefront of the homeless civil rights movement in our country. We are all proud to be a part of this social action for our people, in creating a more compassionate and dignified community that is active in making the changes we all want see unfold and grow in Las Cruces and the United States.
We all love you very much!