Effective Messaging Around Ending Homelessness
Advocates and providers across the country are preparing for Site Visits and Town Halls during the April Congressional recess taking place Monday, April 10 – Friday, April 21, 2017 and messaging is the key to ending homelessness.
Site visits and town halls with members of Congress offer excellent opportunities to communicate the good work being done in your local community to end homelessness.
And the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH)’s Jennifer L. Rich, Director of Communications has written a blog post with some tips for “Communicating Effectively About Ending Homelessness.”
One example of a positive message that Rich shares is, “Together, we are working better and smarter to end homelessness in America.”
Writes Rich, “How we talk about ending homelessness in our communities matters. But while we have been developing significant evidence around what works programmatically and systemically, we still have much to learn about the most effective ways to talk about the importance of our work—and to get individuals and communities behind that effort.”
Rich highlights a research report from Enterprise Community Partners: You Don’t Have to Live Here: Why Housing Messages are Backfiring and 10 Things We Can Do About It.
Rich shares the top five messaging tips that she took away when discussing the new report with Tiffany Manuel, vice president of Knowledge, Impact and Strategy at Enterprise.
- Start with ‘why.’ Be sure to “clearly broadcast why we do what we do —to talk openly about the vision and values behind our efforts. For example, we do this work because we believe that ending homelessness is possible. “
- Tell stories about what ending homelessness means from a variety of different perspectives. “For example, Dr. Manuel highlighted the different perspectives that sociologist Matthew Desmond wrote about in his book, Evicted, as a compelling way of engaging readers who are coming to the issue from different viewpoints.”
- Talk about the struggles of your neighbors specifically. It’s no surprise that people care the most about the lives of the folks closest to them. “To make the case for housing affordability, we need to ground our conversation in local stories: our elderly next-door neighbor who can no longer afford to live in the home where she raised her children.”
- Fill in all the pieces of the plot. Most people don’t understand how a variety of federal, state, and local policies affect housing stability and homelessness … To build momentum for change, we need to connect all the dots of how our policy decisions affect individuals in ways that might push them into homelessness or make it difficult for them to exit homelessness.”
- Describe homelessness as the solvable problem that it is. “We do know the best way to end homelessness in America, and we are making steady progress toward that goal. We need to share the message far and wide that we are ending homelessness, together.”