The District has made improvements to services for homeless families in response to the crisis that occurred last winter, but progress has been uneven and large gaps remain. In April 2014, twenty-five organizations released a community plan — Helping Families Home: A Roadmap for the District — outlining their recommendations on what DC should do immediately to start on a path towards a high-quality homeless services system. 1 This report provides a six-month update on progress toward the community’s recommendations as laid out in the Roadmap.
There has been progress in some important areas: a new homelessness prevention program is set to be launched this winter, there are new investments in affordable housing for families, and the District is securing additional shelter capacity for this winter. The District has released a plan for a new system of smaller shelters to replace the DC General Family Shelter, but it is not clear if this plan will yield enough shelter capacity to meet the need.
Yet there has been a tremendous lack of progress in several key areas. Many of the problems with DC’s Rapid Re-housing program — – the main tool for getting families out of shelter — – have not been addressed. Little progress has been made to meet the unique needs of youth-headed households, which make up nearly half of all families seeking shelter. The DC General Family Shelter has received only some of the improved case management and services it needs. Also, the District is planning to fill the gap in the homeless services budget by using Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funding, and it is not clear whether this will lead to cuts in other vital programs. Finally, DC has made little progress towards the goal of providing access to shelter year-round.
This report card finds that a great deal of work needs to be done — – soon — – to avoid a repeat of last winter’s family homeless crisis. The end of the report includes our recommendations for the key areas that DC should focus on over the next six months. These include: finalizing a plan for a new shelter system with sufficient numbers of units, strengthening Rapid Re-housing, further improving
To read a summary of this report, click here.
To read the full report, click here.