Skip to content

Shifting the Narrative on Homelessness: Bringing It Home 2024

For the first time since 2019, homelessness service providers gathered last week in Raleigh for Bringing It Home: Ending Homelessness in NC. The annual conference, which was held virtually from 2021-2023, drew more than 400 attendees from across the state to network and learn about best practices in homelessness services. This year, the conference placed special emphasis on combating harmful narratives around homelessness that have been increasing across the country and in North Carolina, empowering attendees to become advocates for effective, equitable affordable housing and homelessness policies.

Marisol Bello, Executive Director of Housing Narrative Lab

Marisol Bello, Executive Director of Housing Narrative Lab, opened the conference with a keynote address about the importance of being “narrative gardeners” who help shape the way people think and feel about homelessness. “We need to tell these stories, we need to tell more stories. We need to reach everyone, everywhere, all the time,” Bello said. She reminded attendees that public narratives around issues such as smoking have changed dramatically through years of persistent, truthful storytelling, and that we can similarly change the public perception of homelessness. “This is the work of planting a shared narrative garden where we grow new thinking and ideas, we persuade people. We persuade people first through their hearts and then their minds that when we all have a safe place to call home, we thrive and strengthen all of our communities.” 

Attendees also heard from members of the NC Balance of State Continuum of Care Lived Expertise Advisory Council (BoS CoC LEAC), which recommends action steps to the NC BoS CoC Steering Committee and service providers to improve CoC policies and best practices based on insights and expertise from experiencing homelessness firsthand. Their personal stories and their work through LEAC were key reminders of how critical it is to include people with lived experience in the leadership and planning of homelessness services. 

Dr. Lorenzo Claxton, NC Field Office Director for the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, provided remarks during lunch. On the afternoon of Day 1, attendees could choose between 9 breakout sessions with topics ranging from Mainstream and Special Purpose Housing Vouchers to Building Professional Resilience and Avoiding Compassion Fatigue. Day 1 concluded with a networking reception for attendees. 

On Day 2, attendees could choose from 11 breakout sessions happening throughout the day, including three intensive sessions that took a deep dive into key topics. One of those intensive sessions was Developing Strategies and Resources Across the Housing Continuum: A conversation with NCCEH & NCHC. Dr. Latonya Agard and Andrea Carey with the NC Coalition to End Homelessness and Stephanie Watkins-Cruz with the NC Housing Coalition led an interactive session focused on shared narrative, key data, vision for the future, collaboration, and connecting around advocacy and policy work. The session highlighted opportunities to connect with NCCEH and NCHC while gathering feedback virtually and in-person. Facilitators highlighted the need to defy unnecessary barriers and silos to collaboration in housing justice work. The session also emphasized how crucial  partnership is in order to create systemic policy change that pursues justice, can end homelessness, and ensure that every North Carolinian has a home in which to live with dignity and opportunity. At the end of the session the presenters discussed the future of both Coalitions and announced that the NC Coalition to End Homelessness and the NC Housing Coalition will be cohoused in the same office space starting in the fall. 

By the end of the two-day conference, attendees had gathered new insights, made connections across the state, and felt empowered to shift the narrative on homelessness. “At the end of the day, after the final sessions, our team was oozing with excitement and brimming with ideas on how to make Hospitality House Northwest NC an even better, more effective agency,” Hospitality House Northwest NC shared on Facebook. “It was reassuring to hear that we are not alone. Agencies, communities and people experiencing homelessness are facing the same challenges, barriers and obstacles that we are and coming together, in-person, to talk strategy and solutions was a much needed boost to our leadership team!” 

Planning for Bringing It Home 2025 will begin in August. If you are interested in sponsoring next year’s conference, submitting a workshop proposal, or learning more about Bringing It Home, contact Haley Solomon at

Recommended read

Advocating for Affordable Housing at the General Assembly

Many thanks to our sponsors