Ending homelessness is more than just possible, it’s work that must be done, says Lydia Stazen, the new executive director of DePaul’s Institute of Global Homelessness. Stazen has spent years working on the issue in Chicago and has seen progress being made.
“We know the solutions that end homelessness, so it’s about building the political will and marshaling the resources to do it,” Stazen says. “We’ve seen steady declines in homelessness in Chicago in the past several years. To be able to take some of those solutions and strategies and apply them to international communities is really exciting.”
Stazen began work at IGH in late February and brings experience from Chicago’s nonprofit sector, where she’s worked on issues of employment, policy and education. She served as vice president of All Chicago Making Homelessness History, which coordinates a citywide response to ending homelessness. While there, Stazen led efforts to integrate homeless data and medical data to help patients experiencing homelessness access housing services.
Most recently, Stazen was vice chancellor of advancement and president of the City Colleges of Chicago Foundation, where she drove a college-wide response for students experiencing homelessness. Now that she’s here at DePaul, Stazen is interested in calling out the connections between the institute’s work and “the Vincentian values that DePaul lives out every day.”
In the coming year, Stazen looks forward to focusing on A Place to Call Home, the IGH campaign to end street homelessness in some 12 cities around the world. The institute is also part of a U.N. Working Group to End Homelessness, which recently persuaded the United Nations to make homelessness a priority in the coming year
“The Institute of Global Homelessness is supporting advocates worldwide as they address homelessness. Lydia has been a leader on this issue in Chicago, and in this role she will be able to effect change on an international scale,” says Robert Karpinski, associate vice president of academic affairs at DePaul.
Locally, Stazen has found a few strategies to be tried and true in addressing homelessness. First, she says, organizations in a city need to talk to each other, so they know “who else is doing the work and can share the goal of ending homelessness in a meaningful way.” Next, they need to share data, so they can get “the full scope of the problem and clarity about how to address it.” Lastly, she says social work practices like trauma-informed care, and the housing first model—where people are given housing first, then wrapped with other services—have proven most effective.
While not everything that she’s learned in Chicago will work in an international context, Stazen says she’s looking forward to learning how things change and adapt internationally.