Ending homelessness is not only morally and spiritually right. It is also economically right.
That message was repeated throughout the day at the 2007 St. Louis Homeless Summit, held Nov. 19 at Washington University. Representatives of many Catholic organizations - including Thomas Mulhearn, president of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of St. Louis - were among more than 200 people who attended the event. It was aimed at bringing more local corporations into the fight to end homelessness.
Representatives of government and nonprofit groups were on hand as well, joining together in what Dan Buck, head of St. Patrick Center, has called a "working plan" to end homelessness.
Buck was the moderator of the summit. St. Patrick Center, the Catholic Charities agency that fights homelessness, is part of a coalition of agencies serving homeless people in the St. Louis Continuum of Care, which hosted the summit. The sponsor was Enterprise Community Partners.
"The fact that homelessness exists in St. Louis is bad both socially and economically," Buck said before the summit. "It is an embarrassment that we have not pulled together as a community to help our neighbors. It’s also bad for businesses and economic growth in St. Louis."
To provide monetary backing in the effort to end homelessness, Enterprise Community Partners announced the creation of a new fund. The Hope Is Moving In Fund - named for the homeless summit’s theme, Hope Is Moving In - will support permanent supportive housing production goals as specified in the St. Louis City and County 10-Year Plan To End Homelessness.
"The funds will be used for these housing projects in the city and county, to support operating costs, social service costs and capital costs," said Pamela Coaxum.
She is director of the St. Louis office of Enterprise Community Partners, a national nonprofit organization that works to provide affordable housing for low-income people across the country.
Coaxum attended the corporate leaders’ session that opened the summit, which she called "very well received" by the business leaders attending. The main speaker was San Antonio businessman Bill Greehey, who is leading efforts to end homelessness in that Texas city. Bill Seidhoff of the St. Louis City Department of Human Services gave an overview on the city-county 10-year plan.
Corporations, foundations, businesses and individuals interested in donating to The Hope Is Moving In Fund or learning more can call Coaxum at (314) 333-7011.