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Honoring Sarah Fox, 2020 Reverend Richard Schuster Advocacy Award Winner

September 9, 2020

Why do you do the work you do? It’s a question that advocates are often asked – and every advocate needs a why. Every advocate needs an answer that helps them get up in the morning and keep doing the work.

Sarah FoxSarah Fox knows her why. “Housing instability and poverty is part of my story,” she says. "I think it’s part of what has made me a strong advocate. The understanding of how it feels to experience housing insecurity, what it means to know you could lose your housing at any moment, it drives me to not want that to happen for anyone else.”

As the Director of Advocacy and Community Impact for the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness (CCEH), Sarah Fox works to create the political and civic will to enact policies that will make life better for Connecticut’s housing-unstable residents. She exemplifies the values of the Rev. Richard Schuster Advocacy Award, of which she is the 2020 recipient.

The Schuster award, named in honor of a lifelong Connecticut housing advocate and the first president of CCEH, “recognizes a professional or volunteer who demonstrates an outstanding commitment to raising awareness about the needs of individuals and families currently/in danger of experiencing homelessness, using either legislative or client-centered advocacy.“

Fox has worked in homelessness advocacy for over a decade, and during that time, she has been part of a sea change in how Connecticut views homelessness. “A decade ago, we did not have a systemic response to homelessness,” she says. “Today we have our CANs, we have a community-level response, and we’ve just been building it.”

Connecticut’s homelessness response has come a long way in the last 10 years. But, even before the COVID-19 pandemic, Sarah Fox was thinking broader – making the connection between homelessness and all the systems with which it intersects.

“Homelessness is about a big system’s failing, and COVID shines a light on it in the way that COVID shines a light on all systemic failing,” Fox says. “It’s really brought forward the huge impact on communities of color, and it’s really brought forward the systemic need that exists in every community.”

“I think that while COVID has reinforced the need for the work that we’ve done, it’s also showed that we need to be grounded in social justice. We need to work and collaborate with other partners because of the impact of all these systemic issues.”

CCEH recently launched a campaign, Housing = Justice, to advocate for housing and an end to homelessness using a social justice lens. Fox says that CCEH has made important connections in fields like criminal justice advocacy, and they will continue to pursue these justice-focused partnerships in the future.

The world of advocacy is constantly changing. But the why remains the same. As this pandemic has shown, far too many people in Connecticut are at risk are at losing their homes. In this environment, it is necessary for advocates to call to change the systems that perpetuate poverty, inequity, and housing instability. And that’s what Sarah Fox is doing every day.

We’re proud to present Sarah Fox with the 2020 Reverend Richard Schuster Advocacy Award! To see the awardees receive their awards live, please register for the 2020 Reaching Home Awards. The awards ceremony will take place on Thursday, September 10 from 3:30pm to 5:00pm over Zoom, and registration is completely free. Click here to register.