A Conversation with David Wertheimer from Gates Foundation About Family Homelessness
“If all we’re ever going to do is manage homelessness, we will carry that expense until the end of time” ~ David Wertheimer
The above is a quote that David Wertheimer, Deputy Director for the Pacific Northwest Initiative of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said at the end of this video interview. There is so much truth in what David said about about managing homelessness, and it’s so very important, I felt it should be the very first thing in the post.
Being a pioneer in any field can be challenging. My work with Invisible People, using social media to fight homelessness and poverty, is a constant battle to move forward. Occasionally, I get a sign I am headed in the right direction, and maybe the greatest validation of my work was a post last year on the Gates Foundation’s blog: The Power of Pixels: Social Media is helping to shed light on US family homelessness. Well, that was until this last week when David invited me to speak to a small group of people on the Gates Foundation campus in Seattle.
Because every community has a different political structure, resources and challenges, I believe we must fight homelessness at a local level. That said, everything in the nonprofit world revolves around funding. Unless money is attached to system change, any change is rare. My point is, money drives change, and the major funders in fighting homelessness have a unique top-down view of the fight against homelessness and poverty. The very good news is major funders like Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Conrad Hilton Foundation, Pierce Family Foundation, and others, are facilitating systems change and driving new models to fight homelessness.
I started off this interview by asking David what’s happening in homelessness, both good and bad, as face of homelessness has changed. David explains that the recession was devastating to both families and individuals. He says that homelessness is a lagging indicator of the economy’s recovery. On the good side, David says that people are starting to talk strategically, that the conversation has changed from maintaining homelessness, to actually ending homelessness.
In this video, David talks about the needed culture change in homeless services. David also goes on to share how the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is leading the way to change in the Pacific Northwest, with their focus on ending family homelessness. Even if you do not work in homeless services this is a must-watch video.