Care for the Homeless Graduates First Class of Certified Advocates

Care for the Homeless graduated its first class of “Certified Care for the Homeless Advocates” yesterday (September 26, 2013) following a nine-class training course on policy issues, speaker training and advocacy techniques. This first class of Certified Advocates, comprised entirely of client leaders from the organization, included ten graduates, each of whom has experienced homelessness in New York City.

The graduating Certified Advocates told their personal stories at the event and connected their own story to a particular policy issue for which they are personally advocating. This diverse group of
Members of the Graduating Class
graduates includes blacks and whites, men and women, straight and gay, those currently experiencing homelessness and some who are formerly homeless.

The personal stories included:
  • a Ph.D. former college teacher who lost his eyesight, then his job and finally his home,
  • a man who was sentenced to death at the age of 16 but had his sentence vacated in one of the last cases Justice Thurgood Marshall sat on for lack of due process because he was never certified as an adult,
  • a man currently employed and living in a shelter but not making sufficient income to afford a stable home. 
Others came to homeless through natural disaster, domestic violence, drug and alcohol problems, and inability to find or maintain employment.

The graduates advocate for access to appropriate health care and other human services, for affordable housing for very-low income people, for supportive housing for those who need it, for full funding for the SNAP food stamp program, for reinstatement of a 30% of income rent cap on those with HIV living in HIV-AIDS Support Administration (HASA) housing, for a “housing first” policy, and for better job training and education.

With the completion of the advocacy course, the group will launch a Care for the Homeless Speakers Bureau offering presentations to groups in New York City about policy issues related to services for people experiencing homelessness, affordable housing and what it’s like to be homeless.

The Graduating Class

Members of the Graduating Class on Thursday, September 26, 2013 include: Calvin Alston, Al Arterburn, David Broxton, William Bryant, Ava Connor, Gayle Dorsky, Philip Malebranche, Garret McMahan, Vilna Miller and Anthony Williams.

“We’re excited to talk about how good policy choices can prevent and end homelessness” said Anthony Williams, a graduate and Chairperson of one of the organization’s client leader boards. “If people understand the issues, and hear our stories, it can inform the public discussion on critical issues.”

“This is an opportunity to more effectively educate the public about policies that affect the fight to better deal with, prevent and eventually end homelessness,” Care for the Homeless Executive Director Bobby Watts said. “I want New Yorkers to hear our clients’ stories of having experienced homelessness, and in many cases overcome it and gone on to make valuable community contributions.”

“We know the best way to influence public opinion on our issues is for the public to meet people and hear their personal experiences, and talk about how we can end homelessness through good public policy,” according to David Broxton, Chairperson of one of the organization's client leader boards and also a graduate of the advocacy class. He said the group’s Speakers Bureau will make presentations to community groups, religious congregations, schools, service clubs and others interested in the discussion.

The Advocacy Certification Training program was led by volunteer Board Policy Committee member Shani Penn, who taught classes in speaker techniques, and Care for the Homeless Policy Director Jeff Foreman, who led classes on the history of homelessness, policy issues and the solutions in the Care for the Homeless “Agenda to End Homelessness.”

“Poor policies got us into this mess, and we believe better public policy can end modern homelessness as we know it,” said Gayle Dorsky, one of the graduates.


How to Request a Speaker

Presentations featuring the Certified Advocates, as well as Care for the Homeless staff and Board members, are available to interested groups by contacting Jeff Foreman in the Policy Office at 212-366-4459, ext. 206 or via email at

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