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“It is not a homelessness crisis; it is a community crisis,” said Rex Hohlbein at the PWX Opening General Session.

PWX Hacks Homelessness Thea Voutiritsas Production Editor American Public Works Association Kansas City, Missouri


ccording to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Annual Homeless Assessment Report, as of 2018 there were around 553,000 homeless people in the United States on a given night. Public works and infrastructure professionals are encountering the impacts of homelessness throughout the many responsibilities of public works— including street, road, and bridge safety, public transportation, rights-of-way management issues, emergency management, clean water and wastewater treatment, public facilities and parks management, and solid waste collection and disposal. As homelessness presents an increasing challenge for public works, staff are being asked to respond in productive


APWA Reporter


November 2019


and politically sensitive ways. In an effort to address these issues, PWX made homelessness the center of its focus.

Opening General Session Rex Hohlbein, Founder of Seattle-based organization Facing Homelessness, presented in the Opening General Session. Facing Homelessness provides resources to bolster compassion and empathy through programming designed to reduce negative stigmatization of homelessness. “In homelessness, the individual disappears,” said Holbein. “We have all become spectators in an ever-increasing humanitarian crisis.” There are an overwhelming 8,500 homeless in Seattle. “We are sidelined because we believe we do not have the skills to make a difference,” said Hohlbein. Rather than letting their faces disappear into the crowd, Hohlbein

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