Take Five! Q & A with Brenda Karyl Lee-Wilson

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Expert Q & A | May 14, 2008

Brenda Karyl Lee-Wilson
Vendor, Street Sense
Washington, DC

What is the newest issue emerging in homelessness policy?
I think the newest emerging issue is that within the United States, massive foreclosures are displacing families. How will this effect homelessness and the shelter system? Nationwide the public shelter system, as well as the private shelter system, does not have enough beds for single individuals, let alone families. This ultimately leads to an increase in mental, physical, emotional and financial stress for people who experience homelessness for the first time.

What issue in homelessness policy should everyone be reminded of?
“But for the grace of God, there I go!” And, “Judge not lest ye be judged.”

How did you start working in the field of homelessness (or housing)?
I began working in the field of homelessness after surviving 4 years and 8 months of homelessness. During that time, I only had my faith in God and my beloved pet dog by my side (who I had to euthanize on Nov. 23, 2005). This experience has placed my life on a course to educate the public on the plight of the homeless through all available avenues.

Where do you draw your inspiration?
I came to realize at age 52 that God’s plans for me have not been the same as mine. However, knowing He has a purpose for my life helps me to trust that He will guide me, strengthen me and give me the energy to help change the deplorable and barely-livable existence that homelessness imposes upon those it affects. I never run short on courage through my foundation in Jesus Christ.

Why do you think ending homelessness is possible?
The United States is the wealthiest nation in all of history and its continued determination to be “the land of the free and the HOME of the brave” holds a responsibility. We must live up to the inalienable rights we’ve promised every man, and housing is a right. Americans who live in this great land should stop to consider, "how can we even start to help other countries when we don’t help our own?"

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