At Solid Ground, Tamara Bauman and other JourneyHome advocates work every day to help families experiencing homelessness get into housing quickly and start building stability in their lives. But Tamara’s work doesn’t end there. She’s also seeking to improve how we address homelessness in King County as a member of the Continuum of Care Board for the King County Regional Homelessness Authority. And she also works to help dismantle structural oppression as a signer of the Wellbeing Blueprint.
Tamara recently sat down with the Wellbeing Blueprint to talk about the links between housing justice and social justice, centering community in response to homelessness, and steps we can all take to advance housing justice. Here’s an excerpt:
What is housing justice?
“To me, housing justice is racial and social justice. And what that looks like is acknowledging the interlocking systems of oppression that have historically and intentionally been designed to exclude BIPOC communities from the benefits of mainstream society. And we have to start naming housing justice by looking at housing injustice as a legacy of white supremacy and colonialism.”
How do you approach centering community in the context of housing?
“One of the things I noticed when I first entered the housing field was that there was no one with lived experience at the table talking about housing policy. So my job at that time was to recruit and bring more people currently or previously experiencing homelessness to the table to talk about gaps in the homeless response system and to co-create solutions to those gaps.
“We’re also centering people with lived experience by acknowledging that trauma is a universal experience. At some point, everyone is going to experience something traumatic like the death of a loved one. And homelessness is definitely a source of trauma for every single one of the program participants I work with. So normalizing that helps us better align our services and communications in a way that is respectful and compassionate.
“My favorite thing about FFI [Full Frame Initiative] and the Wellbeing Blueprint is always starting with what is meaningful to that community, to that person or family. That’s ultimately where the housing justice movement is headed because we know that housing outcomes are more likely to be successful when they are designed by the people seeking housing.”