Thanks to joint efforts of the mayor and the DC Council, the budget approved today includes substantial new investments to help homeless residents move out of shelter and into housing. Doing so will put the District on track to end long-term homelessness by 2020, the goal of the new Interagency Council on Homelessness (ICH) Strategic Plan.
Homelessness is a problem that goes deeper than not having a roof over your head. The struggles that come from not knowing where you’ll spend the n
ext night take a huge toll. It becomes harder to hold down a job and make use of crucial services like counseling and medical treatment. The stress of homelessness can dampen children’s achievement in school.
So, the faster people can move out of shelters and into housing, the better. The new budget investments will help in many key ways:
- More permanent housing for chronically homeless residents. The budget provides support that combines long-term affordable housing and case management, like counseling and connecting folks with community services. This will help 363 individuals and 110 families who have been homeless multiple times or for an extended period and also have a significant disabling condition, such as physical or mental health issues that makes it difficult to stay in housing without support.
- Funding to help more homeless individuals who need a little help to move out of shelter. The new budget investment will help 455 individuals — triple the number now being helped — find housing and employment and pay rent for a short period of time, generally up to 12 months.
- More long-term affordable housing for residents who have been homeless. The budget helps 147 families and 339 individuals who either need help paying rent after their short-term rental subsidy ends or who no longer need the intensive services provided to chronically homeless residents but still need help paying their rent.
- More help for families who need more time to get back on their feet. Some families, particularly those with a parent under 25, need more intensive support and longer periods of rental assistance. To meet this need, the District is launching a new program to serve 80 families.
- Help for homeless teens who are pregnant or parenting. These teens today fall through the cracks of DC’s homeless services, not qualifying for the help families with adult parents receive. Emergency housing and services to help them reunify with their parents, if possible, will help them stay in school and put their families on the path to a stable future.
By placing a high priority on ending homelessness, DC is taking important steps that will make this a place to live for everyone.
Kate Coventry is a DCFPI Policy Analyst and voting member of the Interagency Council on Homelessness.
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