Reflecting on this year’s National Alliance to End Homelessness conference

A room filled with people at tables.

Attendees at the conference. Photo courtesy of the National Alliance to End Homelessness.

This year’s National Alliance to End Homelessness conference took place from July 25 – 27. It was the first in-person conference since the beginning of the pandemic. During the week, we focused on gains we made during these changing times as well as new realities. We are scaling up on racial equity and empowering those individuals with lived experiences with homelessness to have a stronger voice at the table. This year’s conference is also looking to organize a day visit to Capitol Hill on Sept. 14 of at least 1,000 people with lived experience to give a stronger voice to what they feel are the best solutions to ending homelessness and housing instability.

As this year’s conference came to a close, it also brought an end to the stories of three amazing women: Nan Roman, Patty Mullahy Fugere and Maria Foscarinis. 

Nan Roman has been a tireless advocate and leader to the community, shedding light on housing injustices for unhoused people across the country. She is now stepping down from her role as President and CEO.

As the leader of the alliance, Roman has helped inform policymakers and elected officials on best practices for serving the unhoused community and for people at risk of becoming unhoused themselves. 

Roman’s experiences call to mind two other amazing women. Both of them have long served the unhoused community locally. There’s the longtime leader of the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless, Patty Mullahy Fugere. She built the legal clinic with the vision of creating a just and inclusive community for all D.C. residents. She envisioned this city as a place where housing is treated as a human right and where every individual and family has equal access to the resources they need to thrive. She has brought together a community of lawyers and advocates to achieve clients’ goals of receiving housing justice. The legal clinic connected people with a network of expert staff and volunteers who provided them with low-barrier comprehensive legal services at intake sites throughout the city.

Maria Foscarinis, the longtime CEO of The National Law Center for Homelessness also retired this year, like her other two contemporaries. Her services and impact on housing justice simply can’t be measured.

All three of these amazing women are being succeeded by another amazing woman. Ann Oliva is a career veteran of homelessness and housing policy. She previously worked for the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) where she served as deputy assistant secretary for special needs. She was also named one of HUD’s must 50 distinguished leaders in the department’s first 50 years.

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We believe ending homelessness begins with listening to the stories of those who have experienced it.