Homelessness and me
My name is Linda Jeffers. At the age of 59 years and 11 months, I became homeless for the second time in five years. My employment ended and I was not able to continue with my financial commitments. I was forced to move in with a friend. My situation may not fit perfectly into Webster’s Dictionary’s nor the government’s definition, but I was without a permanent residence. My first experience with homelessness was due to the impact of Hurricane Katrina. Because of my direct experience with being homeless, I have become an advocate and a voice for the people who are often left unheard, the homeless.
I had the privilege of lobbying in D.C. with the Equity and Inclusion Campaign to change the definition of “homeless.” Because of the devastating impacts of recent hurricanes and the troubling national economic situation, we now have a new face of homelessness. In the past, the homeless were living on the streets, in shelters, or in their cars. Now, many homeless are out of the public view, sleeping on family and friends’ couches and floors. Because of this new and often overlooked community, I continue to organize and advocate.
WATCH: Linda Jeffers describes returning to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, community organizing, and becoming homeless
I am the embodiment of resilience and revitalization. I am a community educator and work tirelessly in communities to help develop local, state, and federal level policy. I gather stories and testimonies from the people, for the people, in order to present a clear and effective framework for critical policies. I lift up the voices of our communities and churches, and present them to government officials. Our policy makers should know our communities, our needs and effective implementation strategies to ensure success.
In the words of community organizer Marshall Ganz, "Because we use narrative to engage the "head" and the 'heart', it both instructs and inspires-teaching us not only how we ought to act, but motivating us to act-and thus engaging the 'hands' as well."
I will be contributing to Bridge the Gulf, bringing stories from the people directly impacted by homelessness in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast.
I Am Blessed, Chosen, and Highly Favored. I Love You.
Linda Jeffers is a community educator and organizer in New Orleans, Louisiana. She has been organizing for thirty one years, and lived in New Orleans since 1970. During Hurricane Katrina, she became a voice and organizer of evacuees in the Astrodome and throughout Houston, Texas. She has worked on issues such as hurricane recovery, homelessness, and the BP oil disaster. Linda bridges communities with churches, and helps to develop policy at a local, state, and federal level. She also gathers stories and testimonies from the people, for the people, documenting lives on the Gulf Coast.