Finding Shelter Through Peer Support: Navigating Homeless Advocacy Through Mutuality

Earl Miller Being homeless is an incredibly intersectional reality. Released from a hospital with no resources? Paroled from prison? Lose a job? Suffer an injury? Discriminatory landlord? Disowned by family? Housing is incredibly important, one might suggest a basic human need, and it is something that is easily pulled. Peer Support, in various places along that journey can play a part in making the experience smoother. Having someone who has themselves been homeless and can offer support based in mutuality has proven effective at drastically reducing evictions at the Rainville, a Springfield, MA, housing alternative. Earl will share his two years of experience working at the Rainville, with 46 tenants and hundreds more wanting to get off the streets. The journey of building relationships with property managers, state housing agencies and attempting to change the narrative on who can be homeless, while asking what is helpful? How do we avoid retraumatizing people by forcing them into conventional ideas of living? Those are a couple of the questions we will ask and discuss.

Goals and Objectives:

  • Support people to move away from a moralist view of housing and instead to consider its place as a fundamental human right, while also examining the very real parts that racism, sexism, ableism and other discriminations play.
  • Compare and contrast the conventionally accepted supports with alternative, often times more radical attempts.
  • Identify strategies to incorporate Peer Support into existing structures.