Regional Issues Days are a highlight of our Civic Leadership and Service program. We invite local leaders, politicians, and those working with area nonprofits to speak about the unique cultural and political climate in Arizona---particularly issues affecting those living in poverty. Regional Issues days are organized throughout the year, each day lasting between 2-3 hours long and focusing on one issue affecting those in poverty.
On December 15th, the Tucson team hosted their second Regional Issues Day on Homelessness and Economic Security.
First, we hosted an opening activity where we asked members to answer a few questions on post it notes and post it for everyone to see.
The first question was “In your experience, what does it mean to be economically secure?”
Some answers included:
Having the relationships and resources to support yourself and your family comfortably via a steady income/steady supply of necessities
Not having to worry about money
To be debt free
Be able to save money easily
Be able to afford to splurge on frivolous items
Be able to meet basic needs
Being capable of managing yourself in emergency situations
To be comfortable financially to know how you are able to pay for basic necessities, plus a little extra.
To have contingency/emergency fund (of at least a full paycheck)
The second question was “What would you like to learn today?”
Some answers included:
Effective methods and organizations that supply homeless relief.
The basics of what it is to experience homelessness
About the factors that contribute to homelessness and what are the barriers to successful reentry
The resources in our community that exist to assist those who are economically insecure
In order to gauge the knowledge of these topics before the presentations, VISTA Leaders, Alison Smetana and Ann Drazkowski, and Team Engagement Coordinator, Kerry Johnson, facilitated an opening discussion and asked questions such as “what is homelessness?”, “what are the causes of homelessness?”, “what are the impacts of limited access to housing?”, and “how does where you live impact your economic security?”.
Then, there were two presentations from local leaders. Melissa Benjamin, Manager of Youth and Family Services at Our Family Services gave a presentation on homelessness and what homelessness looks like in Tucson.
Then, Rachel Beaty from Southwest Fair Housing Council gave an overview of the Fair Housing Act, and the Opportunity Index in Tucson.
Following their presentations, Melissa and Rachel stayed for a panel discussion where members had an opportunity to ask the speakers questions about these topics. Members were very engaged and we are excited for future Regional Issues Day’s events!