Mandee Seeley, Sisters resident who has “lived experience” of housing insecurity, decided to take the problem head on.

While researching the broad topic of homelessness online, she came across an organization headquartered in Washington, D.C., the National Alliance to End Homelessness. They were having a national conference in July and Seeley decided she was going to attend, to learn all she could. She was able to secure one of their scholarships, which covered all her expenses, and off she went to D. C. for four learning-packed days.

Seeley said, “My experience in D.C. inspired me to start a nonprofit to deal with homelessness.”

One of the conference sessions she attended was led by a woman who heads the Mississippi Balance of State which is dedicated to streamlining and strengthening the current delivery system of services for those experiencing homelessness, through greater collaborative planning, partnerships, and program execution. The goal is to provide a continuum of care to create a seamless, comprehensive system of services. Seeley hopes to create something similar in Sisters.

She wasn’t ready to divulge details but said, “Stay tuned.”

Seeley brought back from the conference 250 resources. She has all the presentations that were given plus materials provided by others in attendance. She will draw on those materials when establishing the new nonprofit.

“The conference definitely pushed me to act more. We have an opportunity to end homelessness in Sisters. Our numbers are low enough that we could get in front of it before it grows, but we need more housing and landlord involvement,” Seeley said. “Partnerships and collaborations are the future. We’ve got a good start with this group. It all started with a few of us from the shelter committee and the Forest Service.”

The National Alliance to End Homelessness is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization whose sole purpose is to end homelessness in the United States. They use research and data to find solutions to homelessness; work with federal and local partners to create a solid base of policy and resources that support those solutions; and then help communities implement them.

Founded in 1983 by a group of concerned citizens, the group has grown to a national network of over 10,000 providers, public agencies, and private partners. Attendees at the conference in July numbered 2,500 including representatives from organizations like NeighborImpact, shelters of all types, medical groups providing services to the homeless, mental health and addiction specialists, funders, advocacy groups, and private citizens.

Seeley would “love to go again to the conference… it was fun and valuable.”