This blog is part of a monthly series highlighting the incredible efforts of advocates outside of the Family Promise community working to end homelessness.
For more than two decades, Amanda Andere has been on the frontlines fighting homelessness, both as an advocate for the unhoused and as a leader in seeking racial justice. Since 2016, Andere has led Funders Together to End Homelessness, a national network of philanthropy focused on housing justice and has recently worked to shape the organization’s new strategic framework toward an ethic of justice through action. Andere’s commitment to her work is inspired by a heart for social issues that focuses on reforming systemic inequalities with special attention on housing and racial justice.
“Our learning, unlearning, and commitment to liberation has led us to affirm while racial equity is an important step in addressing disparities, we will not transform, upend, or rebuild without leading with racial and housing justice at our core and knowing the difference between equity and justice is essential as we stitch a new garment rooted in liberation,” Andere said last year during her remarks at the 2022 National Conference on Ending Homelessness (“NCEH”).
“Justice requires urgent fundamental changes that reposition communities of color in relation to power and resources, which includes being able to challenge and shape the many institutions that determine a community’s conditions.”
As an activist for the unhoused, Andere has been a champion for housing first, believing access to safe and affordable housing creates the stability necessary for building success in every other facet of life. But as homelessness affects people of color at disproportionate rates, Andere says advocates must prioritize discussing racial equity when it comes to solving the housing crisis.
“Housing is a fundamental human right. Housing justice is a building block for racial justice and liberation,” Andere told last year’s NAEH conference attendees. “A just housing society offers the assurance of safe, secure, affordable, and dignified living conditions where people have power and agency over how and where they live.”
In addition to her position as CEO of Funders Together, Andere sits on the boards of several esteemed advocacy groups, including the United Philanthropy Forum, Equity in the Center, and the Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers. She has also served as CEO of Wider Opportunities for Women. She is a founding member of the National Racial Equity Working Group on Homelessness and Housing and National Coalition for Housing Justice, as well as part of the Leadership Council for the DC Partnership to End Homelessness. Formerly the board co-chair of A Way Home, a leader in the youth homelessness movement focusing on Black and Indigenous youth of color, as well as LGBTQ+ youth, Andere describes herself as a “co-conspirator” in the group’s work to end homelessness in young people under the guiding premise of racial equity.
Andere has also taught courses in nonprofit management as an adjunct professor at George Mason University. She serves as an ordained deacon at Martin Luther King Jr. Christian Church in Reston, VA and as volunteer advisor for the racial equity task force in Fairfax County. Renowned across the United States for her work, Andere is a regular feature at conferences and speaking engagements where she is often invited to deliver addresses to housing advocates and others dedicating their lives to ending homelessness and realizing social justice.
In 2021, Andere was the keynote speaker at Family Promise’s Virtual Innovation Summit, delivering remarks from an address titled, “Reform, Reimagine, or Transform.”
“Is justice about ending someone’s homelessness?” Andere posed to those at the Summit. “Or is justice about fundamentally changing the conditions that lead to the trauma of homelessness?”
Former Family Promise CEO Claas Ehlers described Andere as a “leader in our sector” with “a clear and strong voice about the inextricable connections between racism, inequity, and homelessness,” expressing his gratitude for the opportunity to learn from Andere’s ability to inspire, challenge, and provoke action.
The sum of Andere’s extensive body of work has informed her vision for ending homelessness and fighting for racial justice in a way that ultimately demands a change to the status quo from the top down.
“True justice and liberation cannot be achieved until we confront and hold accountable the way in which we operate,” Andere said. “Philanthropy–and all of us as gatekeepers to power and resources–needs to be dismantled, then reoriented and reimagined towards a more liberated way of resourcing communities.”
This article was written by Family Promise intern Andrew Rounds.