74 years ago today, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). To mark the anniversary of this milestone document, December 10th is observed as Human Rights Day around the world, with a unique theme each year to highlight different rights expressed in the document.
The theme for 2022 is Dignity, Freedom, and Justice for All. I am struck by how much this theme brought me to the work of LifeMoves. As a member of the Board of Directors and storyteller in my professional life, these aspects of human rights show the heart and hard work of LifeMoves along with how we all strive for better in our region and around the world.
Article 25, section 1 of the UDHR states:
Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
LifeMoves has paved the way for shelters to evolve from congregant, dormitory style buildings to providing distinct spaces for individuals, couples, and families. The architectural changes also meet the needs to provide comprehensive case management and much needed client therapy. This dramatic shift, in interim housing which we have realized at our Mountain View location and will further at the new San Mateo County Navigation Center (Redwood City) embodies the shift from the shame and struggles of living in an encampment or vehicle to the dignity of privacy in one’s own space. All while recognizing the necessity for wraparound services beyond a simple roof over one’s head.
Freedom is something we value so deeply across the United States that we hear it frequently in a variety of contexts from songs to speeches. Freedom for people served by LifeMoves translates into the freedom to leave an abusive relationship, as well over half of our clients have experienced domestic violence. It looks like the freedom to complete education and job training to move into a sustainable career path. And the care for both physical and mental health that allows for the freedom to live a full and productive life.
Lastly, justice is more complex in thinking about LifeMoves. We often think of justice as being tied up in our legal system or what is right from wrong, more generally. As I have learned about LifeMoves’ comprehensive services, I am so impressed with the ability of the LifeMoves program and outreach staff to work with clients to repair their credit history or overcome barriers to employment, like a past eviction, arrest, or even a bankruptcy. For our already vulnerable clients, many systems in place within our legal system create undue blocks to moving into stability for themselves and their families.
This Human Rights Day, I hope you will join with me and the rest of Board of Directors in lifting up the right to shelter and stable housing with the dignity and freedom to live a safe a healthy life. The LifeMoves mission of utilizing interim housing to bring our unhoused neighbors into stability, asks us all to join in this work.
An award-winning screenwriter, editor, producer and journalist, Pamela collaborates with industry mentors and professionals to shepherd heart-felt, funny and transcendent human stories. Media experience includes Boston Globe, Miami Herald, Knight-Ridder New Media and Capital-Gazette Publishing. Now working on a true story of the first woman to win a Pulitzer for Investigative Journalism.