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Ending homelessness by 2020

Have you heard about the plan to end homelessness in DC?

There’s a plan to end homelessness in the District of Columbia. Mayor Bowser announced the kickoff of the Homeward DC initiative during her 2015 State of the District address. Led by the DC Interagency Council on Homelessness, Homeward DC is a strategic partnership between the DC government, nonprofit providers (including Friendship Place), advocates, persons experiencing homelessness, businesses, and the philanthropic community to end chronic homelessness in this area by 2020. The plan’s objective is to make the experience of homelessness in our area one that is rare, brief, and non-recurring.

What does “ending chronic homelessness” mean?

We know that “ending chronic homelessness” doesn’t mean getting literally to zero homeless people. New people are continually moving in and out of the area or into (or out of) the risk of becoming homeless. What it does mean is that systems will be in place to quickly respond to an individual or family facing a housing crisis. It means that governments, nonprofits, and community support systems can intervene rapidly, helping resolve the cause of a person’s housing insecurity before that person’s situation deteriorates and they’re living on the street.

The city will consider its “Homeward DC” initiative successful if by 2020, any household experiencing housing loss is rehoused within an average of 60 days or less.

Where does “Homeward DC” stand right now?

Last year, DC took a bold step towards this goal when Mayor Bowser announced the closure of the family shelter at DC General Hospital—an infamously inadequate facility that housed more than 200 homeless families in tight quarters. Families from the shelter have been moving into smaller shelters throughout DC’s eight wards. These newer, less congested accommodations allow for greater individual care and case management that helps both residents and staff focus on permanent housing placements. The hope is that this will lead to a drop in the number of unhoused families, who currently make up 45% of DC’s homeless population.

The District has been making progress towards reaching its 2020 goal since the launch of Homeward DC. Despite the fact that homelessness dramatically increased in 2016, homelessness among families decreased by 21 percent in 2017, leading to an overall decrease in homelessness of 7.6 percent.

To fully achieve Homeward DC’s goal, however, 6,900 people still experiencing homelessness in DC must first be housed. Until this happens, the system will be too overwhelmed to help new people who need help.

Progress has been made, but how much more can be done in the year to go until 2020? And, what more can we say about what’s already been accomplished?

Friendship Place invites you to meet the policymakers and other leaders behind Homeward DC at our yearly Spring Symposium on April 2. RSVP now to learn about the progress, barriers, and concrete plans for making this initiative a success. NPR Broadcast Journalist Ray Suarez will moderate the event. Our incredible line-up of speakers will include Director of DC Department of Human Services (DHS) Laura Zeilinger and Director of DC Interagency Council on Homelessness (ICH) Kristy Greenwalt.

Spring Symposium: Homeward DC
Tuesday, April 02, 2019 | 6:15 pm – 8:30 pm
NYU Washington, DC | 1307 L St NW, Washington, DC 20005

Ray Suarez, Broadcast Journalist, NPR and John J. McCloy Visiting Professor of American Studies, Amherst College

Panel Includes:
Laura Zeilinger, Director, DC Department of Human Services (DHS)
Kristy Greenwalt, Director, DC Interagency Council on Homelessness (ICH)
Brianne Nadeau, DC Councilmember, Ward 1
Waldon Adams, Coordinated Entry Outreach Specialist, Pathways to Housing DC
Jennifer Knox, Lead Organizer, Washington Interfaith Network
Bruce McNamer, President & CEO, Greater Washington Community Foundation

Refreshments will be served. Reception begins at 6:15 pm and the Symposium begins at 7 pm. Tickets are given on a first come, first serve basis. Click here now to RSVP.

You might also like: The Way to the Future Opens for DC’s Homeless Families, Children

Your Donation Helps End Homelessness!

Your support for Friendship Place has a lasting impact. In 2023, our programs ended or prevented homelessness for 4,993 people, including 1,507 children in families and 670 veterans. We empowered 167 people experiencing or at risk of homelessness to get jobs through innovative, state-of-the-art job placement services. Make a donation today in support of our work to end homelessness. Questions? Please feel free to call our fundraising office, 202.957.7834.

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