OC Forum: Ending Homelessness – Proven Strategies From Other Communities

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The OC Funders Roundtable attended the OC Forum Wednesday, November 15 to take part in the initial dialogue around ending homelessness in Orange County. Hosted by OCFR member Orange County United Way, the forum featured a conversation between Keith Morrison, NBC Dateline correspondent, and Andrae Bailey, CEO of Lead Homelessness Initiative.

Recently, Orange County United Way, in partnership with Jamboree Housing and the University of California, Irvine, developed a Real Cost Study on Homelessness in Orange County. This report, which can be viewed here, found that among other things, it costs twice as much to care for someone on the streets vs. housing them. Costs are highest in Orange County’s health care service sector.

Andrae Bailey encouraged the business, philanthropic, faith-based and government community to come together to combat homelessness, starting with humanizing the homeless and learning their stories. People need help rebuilding their lives and those with underlying challenges such as job loss, family trauma and health and substance abuse often are not able to do it on their own. Every community across America struggles with homelessness, and those that have figured out how to address the challenge have all done it by utilizing data, facts and caring for the people most impacted.

The OC Funders Roundtable is pleased to partner around this important issue and looks forward to continuing dialogue and discussion.

The OC Funders Roundtable is a community of philanthropists committed to improving outcomes for Orange County and beyond. Our mission is to advance social impact by supporting, strengthening, and building adaptive leadership across our nonprofit and philanthropic community. 

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How do we build a compassionate and inclusive America in an age of distrust? WAJAHAT ALI knows from personal experience that when we come together to be the superheroes of our own stories, we can create honest social change. The beloved TED speaker has written for the New York Times, the Washington Post, and The Atlantic about our urgent issues—immigration, politics, parenthood—with boldness, hope, and humor. His memoir Go Back to Where You Came From, one of Amazon’s Best Books of the Year, follows his life as a Muslim Pakistani-American on a surprising, emotional, and challenging quest for the good life. Iconic journalist Katie Couric says that “we are all so fortunate to be on the receiving end of his intellect, his humanity, and his heart.”

Wajahat Ali

“With wit and charm, Ali delivers a masterful meditation on growing up brown in America...he gives us a clear-eyed affirmation of the country America could be.” — Mara Gay, New York Times

Wajahat Ali uses his platform to fight tirelessly for the social change we need in our country—and he isn’t afraid to get personal while doing it. The Daily Beast columnist and former New York Times writer, TED speaker, award-winning playwright, and Peabody-nominated producer of the documentary series The Secret Life of Muslims offers us his experiences of triumph over hardship as a beacon of hope and resilience in the face of life’s impossible situations. From his experiences of Islamophobia growing up as a Muslim Pakistani-American to his two-year-old daughter’s liver cancer diagnosis, Wajahat is living proof that when we share our authentic stories, we build the America we wish to live in.”

In his memoir Go Back to Where You Came From: And Other Helpful Recommendations on How to Become American, Wajahat teaches us how to create our own superhero origin story, invest in hope for the future of America, and enact real social change. The book was called “biting and funny and full of heart” by NPR. Representative Ilhan Omar called Wajahat’s work “hilarious” and “deeply moving”, and legendary writer Dave Eggers said it was the book he’d “been hoping Wajahat Ali would write for ten years—hilarious, stylistically fearless, deeply humane.”

Wajahat is also the author of The Domestic Crusaders—the first major play about Muslim-Americans in a post-9/11 world. He was the lead researcher and author for the Center for American Progress’s seminal report “Fear Inc., Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America,” and served as a national correspondent for Al Jazeera America, where he told stories about communities and individuals often marginalized or under-reported in mainstream media.

As Creative Director of Affinis Wajahat Labs, he worked to create social entrepreneurship initiatives to support and uplift marginalized communities. He also worked with the US State Department to design and implement the “Generation Change” leadership program to empower young social entrepreneurs. Wajahat initiated chapters in eight countries, including Pakistan and Singapore. For his work, he was honored as a “Generation Change Leader” by Sec. of State Clinton and recognized as an “Emerging Muslim American Artist” by the Muslim Public Affairs Council. 

He has given keynote speeches around the world such as TED, The Aspen Ideas Festival, Google, the United Nations, and The New Yorker Festival. His writing appears regularly in the New York TimesThe Atlantic, the Washington Post, and The Guardian. He’s a Senior Fellow at The Western States Center and Auburn Seminary and co-host of Al Jazeera’s The Stream.