Re: A personal message to the Family connected through the Homeless Peoples Network

H. C. Covington -- I CAN America (
Sun, 17 Oct 1999 12:36:24 -0500

Dear Brothers and Sisters -- My Family on HPN:

Several of you have joined HPN in the last few months and are bringing great
comments and life to the discussions.  There are a number of us that have
been with Tom and the HPN concept from the beginning two years ago and plan
to continue with the network as we can all grow and help each other to END
the life destroying effects of Homelessness in America.

As a short introduction to our newer participants, I am a homeless, and
formerly homeless advocate and for the last ten years, a consultant to
agencies seeking to end the causes and effects of being house-less and the
greater disaster caused by the emotional, physical, spiritual, financial and
health deprivation caused by an extended episode of what the world labels as
"Homeless & Hopeless."

As an advocate, organizer and grant consultant, I work with agencies and
Continuum of Care groups in several states across America.  Am I being most
effective?  Honestly, no one will know for about 10 years when we look back
and see the number of people that were helped in their journey out of
homelessness and hopelessness.

Have I done any good?  At the moment I am writing this, all I can tell you
is that I have been directly responsible in helping agencies and homeless
individuals organize and then have participated in raising over $20 Million
Dollars for grass roots and small community based organizations that seem
<at least to me at the time> to truly want to help us get out and stay out
of conditions which lead to the life disaster they call Homelessness.

So, do I have a right to be here as a part of HPN?  That you will have to
judge for your self.

Am I a "sell out" to the ideas and principles that you now have?  Are those
ideas about our people being a major part of the solution different than I
have practiced all over the country by my actions and not just words? Again,
you will have to judge that for yourself

The questions about job postings on HPN are interesting. No, some of the
jobs I post here do not fit A.L.L. of the subscribers to the list.  However
there are many here that they do "fit" and allow consideration of positions
that may give them the ability to add our true voice to an agency or
organization.  Many of the non profits out there do not have a single
"Formerly Homeless" person on their Boards or paid staff and I personally
want to see that change.

There are several of the leaders on this forum that are trained and degreed
with the qualifications that the non profits need (or they can get the jobs
and attain the additional education or training needed while working).
There are other homeless leaders here that have a PhD in life experience [we
call it a "Prior Homeless Disaster"] and may not have the degree or the
tools, but they have the heart and the voice of our brothers and sisters.

There are many of us who are working 60 to 80 hours a week working on local
and national homeless issues and still try to invest time every week on the
Internet sharing information that will help others.  Currently, we
participate in over 60 ListServs connected to a total number of people and
organizations that <I was told> produces over 85,000 "direct hits" everytime
we post something.  Many of those post are then "Forwarded" to others who
write us on-line and off-line asking for more information on homeless
issues. If the "WWW experts" are correct, we are currently impacting about a
quarter to a half a million <non duplicated> people over the course of a

Just like you, we are not PAID to do this.  We consider it part of our
family life mission to share what little we know and learn with and from as
many others as possible.  In fact, just as many of you have found, there are
those in the general public and the local/state/federal government that
would love to stop us <and boy have they tried to do that in 1999!>.  I am
posting an outline of what Ghandi and Martin Luther King. Jr. said about the
attack on the advocates in another post due to its length.  Please read that
one too before you reply to me.

The hardest attack to take is one launched by those in political power that
is filled with untruth and innuendo and have others at the heart of the
homeless movement believe them <Believe those that are trying to stop us
without questioning? Is that cohorting with the  enemy? I know not.>  I do
know that one month from our announcement to oppose a local City/Parish
Government bypassing Title V of the McKinney Homeless Act to take a Federal
Building away from Homeless Providers,  a local alternative paper <one that
distributes its issues through racks in grocery stores along side the
National Inquirer> launched a public attack us and on the two agency
Executive Directors committed to getting the building for a regional
coalition of homeless providers.

The attack has continued for several months now and our attorney has told us
that less than 40% of what was printed was based in truth and that the
printed accusations have been proven to be false  -- but, two Executive
Directors lost their jobs and the paper stated recently that they intended
to pursue us *no matter what we do* until the Federal Building is acquired
by the city.  Well, we had to get the Justice Department in Washington
involved in this issue and we all have been hurt in personal and business by
being falsely accused.

No other paper, TV or radio would publish any of what the alternative paper
published.  After the Federal Building issue is settled, legal action will
be taken against the libel and slander, but it has still cost us a great
deal this year.  The reporter was not even a member of the news staff, but a
cultural reporter who has also written to destroy a HUD Community Builder
and the Bishop of the Episcopal Church here, all with the same type of
innuendo and unfounded accusation, all of which have been proven to be

This forum has been the one place where I can come with all my human
qualities, strengths and weaknesses and receive comfort and encouragement to
stay in the war, even when we lose a battle or two along the way.  There has
been no other place where we "fit" because of our commitment to make a real
difference in homelessness in America, whether it be one person at a time,
where "The feet hit the street" at the local government level, or in
Washington with whoever will meet with us and listen.

I am no better or worse than anyone else on this or any other group working
on homelessness -- I am not a rocket scientist nor a special person with
special gifts or training -- I do not have any more *answers* than anyone

>From the bottom of my heart, I can tell you that I will place my level of
personal commitment to end homelessness along beside anyone on this or other
forums.  Commitment to finding the right *questions* to ask and presenting
them to as many people as I CAN.   I am working to get people and
organizations to understand the war on the poor, the houseless, the homeless
and the hopeless that is continuing in our country.  I am looking for the
appropriate -- not right or wrong -- questions for each level of church,
agency, council, group, family and individual.  Most of those thoughts come
from conversations with other homeless and formerly homeless people, but I
also value the work and commitment of those in research and long term
service to us and our brothers and sisters.

We NEED as much of a complete body to end homelessness in America as we can
get.  If we are to be a complete *body* we need to value each part for its
place and function so the whole body can move forward.

Should the eye say to the foot, *I don't need you, I can SEE where I need to

Should the head say to the hand, *I do not need you I can figure out what
needs to be done?*

*Should the mouth say to the stomach, *I do not need you because I can taste
all the food for myself?*

*Should the legs and feet get together and say to the butt, *We do not need
you, we can stand for ourselves?*

Now that I am that part of the body, I guess I can admit to being a part of
the rear section of the body.  At least my opponents believe that I have
become a real "A_ _  Hole" because I am seldom willing to take *NO* as an
acceptable answer.  So, if that is my position in the body, I want to be the
most effective *butt part* that I can be.  All I ask is for each part of the
body to take care of the rest of the body, otherwise the "A_ _  Hole" will
either pucker up and constipate the body, or else will spew forth offensive
gas from the *stuff*fed to the body to relieve the pressure.  I would be a
part of the body on which other parts can rest and support other work, but
what goes in, must come out... What goes around, comes around.  AND I will
not quit.

So I hope that helps newer members to gain a better understanding of my
arrogance and forward thinking in all areas of homeless and housing advocacy
and funding.  Over the past 7 years, 91% of the grants that I have prepared
for homeless support have been funded.  Of all people, if I CAN do that
anyone on this list can also do that, we just have to lift our vision and
our commitment to real change for/and in ourselves and in/for others.  We
must either hang together, or we WILL hang separately.  When the neck feels
the rope, I can assure you the "A _ _ Hole" puckers and hurts as life is
drained from the body too.

Now I will enjoy the *lightning* or *flame show* that at least will "Light
the Darkness" across the country.

As is said in many Churches on Sunday morning, "COME ON"

H. C.  Covington - I CAN America
Homeless & Housing Resource Center
Management  &  Resource  Consultants
P.O. Drawer 3444 - Lafayette, LA 70502  (318) 781-0216

There is a big difference between throwing a pebble
and throwing a big rock. The pebble causes gentle ripples
that go a long way. The rock makes a big splash that quickly disappears
                                                                 - Ghandi