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Formerly Homeless Survivors' Statement

August 5, 2003

Below is the statement written by Emi and Delphine during the 10th National Conference of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence in August 2002. After gaining the endorsement from Lesbians of Color Caucus (which changed its name to Queer People of Color Caucus in the same meeting) of NCADV, we submitted this statement to the NCADV with the request to read it before the closing panel of the conference. The board of NCADV refused this request for the lack of time, and offered to print it in the next newsletter instead. But we decided that it needed to be heard before the conference was over, so members of the Queer People of Color Caucus took over the stage during the closing to help us read the statement ourselves. NCADV staffers did not attempt to stop us at that point.

We are formerly homeless, currently marginally housed surviors of domestic violence. We were very excited to find "Homeless and Domestic Violence Open Forum" in the agenda for this year's NCADV conference.

However, upon arriving at the "Forum" we were told that the "Forum" was a "focus group" of service providers discussing such provider-oriented questions as "why do some women access homeless shelter rather than DV shelters?" while being audio-recorded.

An NCADV staffer told us that local homeless people were not even invited to participate in this "Forum," nor were they offered food, transportation, or other expenses and compensations that would have allowed homeless people to share their ideas.

We had expected the "Forum" to be a space where homeless people could come and speak their ideas and share their experiences, but instead it became yet another instance where homeless people were denied their own voices and service providers arrogantly spoke on their behalf.

We found this extremely condescending and sadly emblematic of the domestic violence movement's neglect and ignorance of issues facing homeless and marginally housed survivors.

Therefore we demand:

1. In the next NCADV conference, provide a real forum for homeless and formerly homeless survivors. Invite local homeless survivors, and provide transportation, food, and other compensation to them so that they will have realistic chance to participate.

2. Initiate or increase collaboration with the homeless rights movement, such as Coalitions on Homelessness, rather than just with homeless service providers.

Until homeless survivors are allowed to speak for themselves and to represent their issues in workshops and in the national agenda, the domestic violence movement will continue to fail to address their needs as well as any other survivors' needs, because any of us could fall into homelessness when violence and oppression hit our lives.