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Erasing The Stigma: Homelessness Is A Housing Problem

Homelessness is a housing problem. Most people form their opinion around the issue based on what they see for themselves- elderly men asking for dollars outside of the grocery store, someone sleeping on the sidewalk, a cluster of tents and shanties under a bridge. The stigmas abound. Early in 2022, The REALTOR® Foundation decided to update its mission to more accurately portray the broad spectrum of homelessness that our grantees seek to serve, and the even broader range of care necessary for those that have experienced the trauma of being without a home. This year, we have set our sights on erasing the stigma surrounding homelessness. We aim to educate and advocate the truth about homelessness in our communities: That homelessness is a housing problem, not a people problem.

You- the reader- are a housing professional. You are your local expert on market conditions related to housing in our communities. You know the math just doesn’t add up. There is simply not enough affordable housing to meet the needs for all Hoosiers. And when there is a scarcity around housing or any other resource, it is the most vulnerable among us that fall between the cracks.

Last year, REALTOR® Foundation grantees served thousands of people experiencing or on the verge of homelessness. 1,500 were moved in safe, permanent, secure housing; and we are ecstatic that these incredible organizations exist to care for our neighbors in need. However, the truth is that right now there are 50 families living at DaySpring Center, located in the heart of Indianapolis, who are employed, their children enrolled in school, have Section 8 vouchers, and even at times their own transportation- with nowhere to go. This is the case all across central Indiana. The changes that need to be made are going to take a community effort to care for our vulnerable neighbors, and The REALTOR® Foundation is committed to advocating for and supporting those changes this year. We hope you’ll join our mission to solve homelessness in 2023.

Julie Randall, Executive Director of Family Promise of Hendricks County, elegantly summed up our goal when speaking to REALTOR® Foundation donors: “In order to combat the struggles we’re working with everyday…the number one thing is to have empathy, and find a way to express that empathy. That means being okay with affordable housing. Don’t raise your rent rates. Encourage landlords and property managers that you know that have properties to contact organizations like ours…and become partners with them to be able to provide more housing for people in need in their community. Those are things that you all have special powers to do, that not everybody else does. You’re in this community, you’re REALTORS®, and those things really matter and make a difference. It’s all of us doing our own part every day that really makes an impact.”