Ad.vo.cate: one who defends or maintains a cause or proposal; one who supports or promotes the interest of a cause or group; one who pleads the cause of another. 

We each have a cause, proposal, project, group, idea, etc., that we champion-something we believe deserves our voice and support. And there are moments we are given the opportunity to advocate for our causes in spaces that hold great influence and power. 

For Talbot House, the cause is homelessness and the space was Capitol Hill. 

On July 19, Talbot House Ministries Executive Director Maria Cruz and Director of Programs Deborah Cozzetti represented Polk County as they participated in the 2023 National Conference on Ending Homelessness and Capitol Hill Day.

Capitol Hill Day is a national event coordinated by the National Alliance to End Homelessness where representatives across the nation are empowered to engage in federal advocacy to help end homelessness.

Below are Maria’s reflections on her time in DC. 

As I walked through the halls filled with passionate advocates, policymakers, and change-makers, I felt an overwhelming sense of purpose.”

“The atmosphere was charged with energy and determination, a collective resolve to address the challenges faced by the homeless community. It was truly humbling to be part of this gathering, surrounded by individuals who shared the same vision of a more compassionate society.”

“Throughout the conference, we had the opportunity to engage in thought-provoking discussions, attend enlightening seminars, and collaborate with like-minded individuals from diverse backgrounds.”

“The exchange of ideas and experiences strengthened my resolve to fight for the rights and well-being of the homeless population.”

“I was amazed by the wealth of knowledge and innovative solutions presented, as well as the genuine empathy that permeated every interaction.”

“As I stepped into the congressional building, I couldn’t help but reflect on the journey that led me there.”

“Advocating for the homeless had been a lifelong dream, nurtured by empathetic encounters and a deep desire to make a meaningful difference.”

“The realization that I was representing our agency before esteemed individuals, sharing my voice on behalf of the marginalized, was immensely fulfilling.”

“We spoke passionately about the urgent need for affordable housing, comprehensive support systems, increased wages for front line staff, the need for housing choice vouchers and programs aimed at empowering the homeless to rebuild their lives. The response was overwhelming.”

Delegates expressed their support, raised pertinent questions, and shared their own experiences in the field. The sense of solidarity in that room was palpable, and it reinforced my belief in the power of collective action.”

Not only did the team leave DC fulfilled, they left DC having left an impact. Directly following Capitol Hill Day, the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Fiscal Year 2024 Appropriations Bill was released. 

In the bill these key actions were included:

  • $3.9 billion for Homeless Assistance grants (a $275 million increase more than the previous fiscal year AND $75 million greater than what was asked for)
  • $25 million for staff cost of living increases.

The collective voices of the nations homeless advocates were heard and change was made. 

What about you? What will you lend your voice to? We’re all advocates, what’s your cause?

We are incredibly grateful to the GiveWell Community Foundation for their generous grant of $2,500. This vital contribution made it possible for our team to travel to and participate in this important mission.