Celebrating Homeless Advocates
12th Annual McKinney-Vento Awards a success!
October 16, 2010
Each year, at the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty's McKinney-Vento Awards, we pay tribute to outstanding homeless advocates whose contributions have advanced the battle to end homelessness in America. This year, on October 14, at the L'Enfant Plaza Hotel in Washington, D.C., we proudly welcomed U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan as the keynote speaker on this special evening. Maria Foscarinis, the Law Center's founder and executive director, offered these introductory remarks, and Secretary Donovan's address, "Ending Homelessness in Our Time" is available here.
That night, we honored best-selling author Barbara Ehrenreich, whose work has demonstrated a deep commitment to raising awareness and promoting understanding about poverty and homelessness in the U.S. For example, Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America drew attention to the challenges of minimum wage, blue collar work. Her op-ed series on poverty in the New York Times last year included an article entitled, "Is it Now a Crime to Be Poor?" on the criminalization of homelessness.
We are also honored Dechert LLP, a firm which has displayed an exemplary commitment to pro bono legal work. Its recent work with NLCHP has addressed issues related to unaccompanied homeless youth, access to education for homeless youth, and the human right to housing.
Additionally, this year the Education Law Center of Pennsylvania received the Bruce F. Vento Award, and the Elzer family received our Personal Achievement Award.
Christi, William, and the Elzer children were a typical American family - overworked and underpaid, but enjoying home life in a Pittsburgh suburb. Then, in the span of a month, William was laid off, their vehicle was repossessed, and they became homeless. As the children began to adjust to their new situation, they were faced with another bleak prospect. The kids' school district claimed they were no longer eligible to attend school because several of the churches they took shelter in were outside the district. In the blink of an eye, the last vestige of the lives they knew was ripped away from them.
With the help of the Education Law Center and NLCHP, the Elzers fought the ruling. And in March, they won the battle. The district agreed to comply with the law and re-enroll the children, and the Pennsylvania Department of Education issued new guidelines to prevent this from happening to the state's 43,000 other homeless children.
Special thanks go to Bruce & Lori Laitman Rosenblum, presenting sponsors, and the Leonsis Foundation, event sponsors. Click here to learn more about our sponsors.
To read more about the event, check out our blog.
To see photos of the event, click here.