On April 9, 2019, more than 150 people, many with lived experience, poured into the gymnasium at Church of the Advocate to share their stories with Philadelphia City Council Candidates and hear what candidates planned to do to end homelessness if elected. SELF, ODAAT, and Goods and Services came together to give individuals experiencing homelessness an opportunity to be heard. SELF President and COO Mike Hinson moderated The Voices of the Homeless City Council Candidates Forum which attracted 22 City Council Candidates including four incumbents.
"We weren't hearing homelessness or issues related to homelessness as part of the 2019 municipal election discussion, " said Hinson. "We knew that if we wanted this topic brought to the forefront, we would need to do it."
Those in attendance asked very poignant and pointed questions.
"I want to know why there isn't much help for single adults," asked Tiffany Williams, a participant at Susquehanna House. Another audience member asked candidates why the city hasn't used vacant properties to help the homeless.
Rev. Dr. W. Wilson Goode, Sr., welcomed audience members. Carla Tisdale from ODAAT sat on the panel and shared her inspiring story as did Bonita Pritchette who spoke on behalf of SELF. President and CEO of Goods and Services David Tomlinson also shared a few words and encouraged attendees to continue to fight for dignity and housing.
Speakers also included Adohn McNeil from ODAAT and Dupree Norman from Outley House.
Candidates who showed that they cared about ending homelessness by attending the forum were: Councilman Curtis Jones, Jr., Councilman Allan Domb, Councilman Derek Greene, Councilwoman Helen Gym,
Deja Lynn Alvarez, Sandra Glenn, Kathy Gilmore Richardson, Sherrie Cohen, Latrice Bryant, Joe Cox, Moses Santana, Ogbonna Paul Haggins, Beth Flinn, Daniel Orsino, Andrew McGinley, Billy Thompson, Ericka Almiron, Joe Cox, Willie Singletary, Asa Khalif and Ethelind Baylor.
"I think it was a good forum. It helped me decide who I'm going to vote for," said one voter.
Thank you to ODAAT President and CEO Mel Wells and Goods and Services President and CEO David Tomlinson for hosting the event with SELF. And thank you to SELF Vice-Chairman of the Board Craig Williams, our program partner UAC President and CEO Sharmain Matlock Turner for supporting the forum and to Director of Policy and Communications Rhashidah Perry-Jones for organizing.