Tomorrow, DCFPI and other members of The Way Home campaign will be visiting Councilmembers urging them to allocate the funding needed to end chronic homelessness in DC. These are residents who have been homeless for a long time and suffer from chronic health conditions. The District is not on track to end chronic homelessness by 2017, a goal embraced last year. Without additional investments now, the District won’t be able to meet this goal even in 2018.
This delay has devastating effects. Being homeless often leads to a life that is cut short. People who don’t know where they’re going to spend the night struggle to receive medical treatment or counseling. And often they must stay in places that make their illnesses worse or do not keep them safe from violence. These shorten the life expectancy of people facing chronic homelessness.
On the flip side, we know that helping people who are chronically homeless improves their stability and health — and leads to tremendous savings. A Seattle study found that permanent supportive housing saved the city almost $30,000 per person, per year.1
The proposed fiscal year 2017 budget increases funding to help individuals move out of shelters and into their own homes, but falls short of what is needed. With an additional investment of just over $14 million, the DC Council can help more than 1,100 residents and put the District on a path to end chronic homelessness.
- Permanent Supportive Housing: The proposed budget provides Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) to up to 300 homeless individuals. PSH combines long-term affordable housing and case management, like counseling and connecting folks with community services. An additional $3.9 million would serve 242 individuals.
- Rapid Re-Housing: The budget also includes funds to help 455 individuals find housing and employment and helps them pay rent for a period of time, generally up to 12 months. With an additional $4.9 million, the program can help 455 more individuals move out of shelter, getting closer to meeting the need.
- Targeted Affordable Housing: Additionally, the budget helps up to 100 individuals through Targeted Affordable Housing (TAH), which provides long-term affordable housing with no or minimal support services. The program serves residents who need help paying rent after their short-term RRH rental subsidy ends and PSH residents who reach a point of no longer needing the intensive services provided by PSH. An extra $5.5 million is needed to house 455 individuals.
Finally, $250,000 in one-time funding is needed for a flex fund to cover the costs associated with moving people into housing, like fees for IDs, rental application fees, and security deposits.
With these investments, the District can meet the needs of some of our most vulnerable residents and be on a path to end chronic homelessness in 2018.
Kate Coventry is a DCFPI Policy Analyst and voting member of the Interagency Council on Homelessness.