Jane Harrison Speaker Series on the Importance of Housing
The Jane Harrison Speaker Series on the Importance of Housing, an annual event sponsored by HPRP, has brought a wide range of experts to Baltimore.
Dan-el Padilla Peralta, PhD, assistant professor at Princeton University and author of Undocumented - A Dominican Boy's Odyssey from a Homeless Shelter to the Ivy League, joined HPRP for an engaging and challenging discussion on youth homelessness. Dr. Padilla spoke about his personal experience with homelessness and shared his thoughts on solutions and steps for change.
The evening also featured a panel discussion, facilitated by Marc Steiner - host of The Marc Steiner Show and President/CEO of Center for Emerging Media, with local advocates leading efforts to end youth homelessness in Baltimore. Members of the audience joined the conversation and spoke passionately about their experiences with homelessness and the critical need for housing and supportive services in Baltimore designed for and by youth.
Panel members included (left to right):
- Malcolm Williams, Youth Behavioral Health Therapist, Health Care for the Homeless
- Helany Sinkler, Family Reunification & Anti-Trafficking Programs Manager, Esperanza Center
- Marc Steiner, President/CEO, Center for Emerging Media
- Ciera Dunlap, Case Manager Supervisor, YES Drop-In Center
- Ingrid Lofgren, Director of Homeless Youth Initiative, Homeless Persons Representation Project
HPRP, in partnership with the Public Justice Center, welcomed Harvard sociologist Matthew Desmond, author of Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, to the University of Baltimore. Prof. Desmond spoke about his book and his research into eviction and its impact on those living in some of the poorest neighborhoods in the country.
"I think we need to keep the message simple and direct," he said in his remarks. "We can't fix poverty without fixing housing."
Following Prof. Desmond, a panel of community leaders and activists discussed housing and eviction issues, and solutions, in Baltimore, where 7,000 families are evicted each year. The panel included:
Rick M. Grams, Attorney, Sagal, Filbert, Quasney & Betten P.A.
Detrese Dowridge, Right to Housing Alliance
Hon. Mark Scurti, Associate Judge, Baltimore City District Court
Zafar Shah, Staff Attorney, Public Justice Center
Karen Wabeke, Senior Staff Attorney, Homeless Persons Representation Project
HPRP joined the Maryland Affordable Housing Coalition to bring together a panel of experts to discuss the need for funding for the Nation Housing Trust Fund (NHTF). The event featured Keynote Speaker Congressman Elijah E. Cummings, followed by a panel which included: Sheila Crowley, President and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, which launched the nationwide campaign to fund the NHTF - United For Homes; Paul Graziano, Baltimore City Housing Commissioner; Trudy McFall, Chairman, Homes for America and then President of the Maryland Affordable Housing Coalition; and Jeff Singer, Instructor at the University of Maryland School of Social Work.
Concurrent with the Speaker Event, HPRP released “Housing Our Neighbors: The National Housing Trust Fund & Affordable Housing, a White Paper” by Jeff Singer detailing the need for renewed national funding for affordable housing development, including funding for the NHTF.
Following the event, Baltimore City Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake joined the United for Homes Campaign calling for funding for the NHTF. In January 2014, Senators Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin signed onto a letter with 31 other Senators asking the Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) to begin funding the NHTF through contributions from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (as originally provided by statute). In March 2014, Governor Martin O’Malley issued a public statement in support of funding for the NHTF. In December 2014, the FHFA Director announced that he would begin making contributions to NHTF.
HPRP joined Health Care for the Homeless to present five local experts discussing various aspects of the relationship between housing and health.
Dr. Thomas LaVeist, Professor and Director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Disparities Solutions, opened the conversation by highlighting how economic inequality contributes to differences in public health. “Bad environments create bad health,” he said.
Dr. Rachel J. Thornton, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Johns Hopkins Medicine saw the intersection of housing and health first hand while working as a clinician. She related how many of her low-income patients made the difficult decision to defer health-related expenses due to the rising cost of basic needs such as food and housing.
Dr. Craig Pollack, Assistant Professor of Medicine at Johns Hopkins Medicine, discussed his research on the effect of the foreclosure crisis on health. "Mortgage default leads to poor health. People are more likely to be sick and depressed. It also leads to health-related behavior like drinking and smoking,” he reported.
Dr. Stefanie DeLuca, Associate Professor in the Johns Hopkins University Department of Sociology, spoke about how living conditions in poor, segregated neighborhoods affect the physical and mental health of women and children in those neighborhoods.
Kevin Lindamood, President and CEO of Health Care for the Homeless, concluded the event by discussing the health hazards of being homeless and pointed toward a solution to the problem. He said, “We use the model of housing first and get them into housing with services. It’s incredibly effective - 88% remain housed and off the street and their health improves.”
The Speaker Series coincided with the release of a white paper entitled “Housing, Help and Hope” written by Jeff Singer, former President and CEO of Health Care for the Homeless.
In 2011, HPRP launched the Speaker Series on the Importance of Housing. Sponsored by HPRP Board Member Jane Harrison, the Series brought national experts to Baltimore to not only discuss the need for housing, but to aid in our efforts to change the conversation away from a sense of the inevitability of homelessness and toward the notion of housing for all.
The first event presented three speakers, who were each followed by a panel of local experts to discuss implementation of their ideas:
- Life Without Housing, featuring Tanya Tull, CEO of Beyond Shelter, who discussed the trauma of homelessness and its effect on homeless families
- Implementing a Right to Housing, featuring Florence Roisman, William F. Harvey Professor of Law at Indiana University School of Law, Indianapolis, who discussed the legal notion of a right to housing
- Housing Development for All, featuring Trudy McFall, Chairman, Homes for America, who discussed concrete changes necessary in government funding of affordable housing to expand the support of affordable housing in Maryland.
A fourth panel followed addressing next steps for advocacy and three primary advocacy initiatives were identified:
- Prohibiting discrimination based on source of income,
- Pursuing a local one-for-one replacement requirement regarding the loss of affordable housing, and
- Improving affordable housing development at the State level including eliminating local approval requirements for affordable housing development, adding additional preferences for locally owned development companies, and improved oversight of awarded programs.