On my mind
February 16th, 2009I have commented previously on this recession and its impact on people in our community as well as the response from the area foundations in creating a fund that is connected to a long time collaborative effort known as the Essential Needs Task Force. This effort helps all the funders to join together yet continue to address our respective priorities. Bold community leadership and philanthropy are both so critical at this time!
Real accounts from around the country abound on the impact of the economic downturn on real people - real lives. I read an excellent but distressing investigative reporting piece from the February 9 & 16 edition of The New Yorker entitled "The Ponzi State" by George Packer. Daily local news reports chronicle the devastating impact on people in our community and the changing face of those affected by job loss and the need for the basics of food, clothing, shelter.
In today's edition of The Grand Rapids Press there is an article about the Grand Rapids Area to End Homelessness which is announcing a new model of prevention and rapid placement into homes with the lofty goal of ending homelessness by 2014. While this goal is challenging particularly in these times, I applaud this heartily and the Coalition members under the guidance of coordinator Janay Brower should be commended for their compassion and tenacity. The Foundation has played an active role in this coalition as well.
It is important to be connected with the "face" of what is happening given the recession. While reports abound re: the federal stimulus package, compensation packages of the Wall Street crowd, and the scrambling of all governmental entities trying to string together some semblance of a budget to keep things going, it is the impact on people that is critical to feel and understand.
I don't know the answer to all of this and frankly no one else does either in truth. President Obama announced this morning that he is appointing a Panel to respond to the auto industry crisis versus creating a "car czar" and further announcing an effort later this week to address the foreclosure crisis. Locally, many efforts are underway to address this crisis through the Home Repair Services (HRS), a coordinated effort creating a Community Foreclosure Coordinator through the Fair Housing Center (FHC) of West Michigan, the ICCF and other programs. The GRCF has funded HRS and the FHC and will keep working on this!
I hear from some who blame the greed of Wall Street or people who have lived off the value of their houses in better times - leaning on credit. Continuing to focus on "whodunit" has some value so we don't repeat our mistakes but we will. BUT playing the blame game distracts us from what we should be doing to move forward to counter all the devastation that is occurring.
Stemming the tide of foreclosures, meeting immediate needs of real people, job loss, and all things related to the impact of the economic times, is extremely difficult to resolve. It is proving to challenge all of us. It is definitely top of mind for me and this Foundation.