This morning, I feel inspired to share the main insight that ignites the Dream Catalyst mission. It is actually more of a question than an answer. The question is, "What is the difference between houselessness and homelessness?" I believe that there is a huge difference between the words 'house' and 'home'. I believe that there are many housed people who are still homeless inside, and on the other side, I also believe that some people who remain houseless truly have a sense of home within.
I believe that if homelessness were truly about solving houselessness, we would have already solved it. Much like if hunger were just about food or calories, hunger, too would be history. Some organizations have evolved to understand that deficiency issues including homelessness, poverty, and hunger are about access to resources that are perceived to be scarce like food, funding and shelter. In Ithaca, where I live, there is less than a one percent vacancy rate in rental housing. How can we attempt to end homelessness with a housing inventory that is so scarce?
I believe that none of the answers exist on the scarcity side of the model. I choose to look for abundance based solutions. Instead of searching for new units of affordable housing, I choose to invest time and resources in helping people live into their dreams, even if they don't yet know what they are. I believe that we were all born with at least one dream inside and it is our sole responsibility to find that dream, make it real, and then share it with the world. It could be that this is the only reason that we are here at this time. We were born to dream and ask questions with undying curiosity. Somewhere along the lines, some of our curiosity died and we started accepting answers to questions that truly had no answer. We started playing this game called life, and we accepted the rules that generations before us created, when the world was flat and there was a chance we could fall off this planet!
I am the first person to admit, that I have no answers. I hope to take my last breath on this planet in a space of curiosity. I also hope to add energy to a generation of youth who may again feel that they need permission to start asking questions that may not ever have an answer. My mission is help people connect with their inner curiosity and passion. This may be located somewhere near the dream still inside of us. Who knows?
Why am I talking about this in relationship to the difference between houselessness and homelessness? Because I think that some of the insight may be found in the questions we have the courage to ask. So, instead of asking questions like, "what does an affordable housing unit look like?", I choose to ask "What does it mean to be home instead of just housed? Bill Strickland, is one of the most inspirational people in my life and he begins his speeches by declaring that "ALL children are born into the world as assets and not liabilities!" I believe that this is truth and this is how I choose to look at the Dream Catalyst mission.
The next big question is, "If everyone on this planet is an asset, how would you treat them and how would you serve them if they needed your help?" Would you want an affordable housing unit if the person that needed help was your child? No matter how old someone is, they are always someone's child. When I was serving as a Homeless Advocate at a crisis intervention shelter called Pax Christi Hospitality Center in Port Jefferson Station, NY I had the opportunity to serve a 60 year old man who said that he had hit rockbottom in his life. The only good thing about rockbottom, is that there is nowhere you can go besides up! He sat down in my office and I asked him, "So, what is it that you were born to be? What are your dreams?" He started crying profusely. He said, "Erik, no one has ever asked me that before!" Then I started crying. What has this world come to when it takes 60 years for a human asset to be asked about his dreams?
This is the only answer I have available right now. I founded Dream Catalyst because I vow to spend the rest of my life asking people about their dreams and believing in the assets that are currently walking this planet without a sense of home. I believe that some of the difference between houselessness and homelessness lies in access to our own dreams. As Dream Catalyst expands in scale, scope and human impact we hope to help provide, "A Home for Every Dream, and a Bed for Every Dreamer!"
If you believe in dreams and the dreams of other human assets on this planet, please consider joining or supporting this mission. We are under the umbrella of a 501(c)(3) organization, so your contributions are tax deductible to the full extent of the law.
Thank you so much!
All my best,