Friendship Place is a leader in Washington, DC, in developing solutions to homelessness that have demonstrable results and a lasting impact. Our innovative, customized, person-focused programs empower participants to rebuild their lives, find homes, get jobs and reconnect with friends, family and the community, permanently.
Our goal is to end homelessness in Washington, DC, and to lead the way in modeling how this can be done in other parts of the country.
Our mission is to empower people experiencing or at risk of homelessness to attain stable housing and to rebuild their lives. Our vision is a DC community and a nation in which every person has a place to call “home.”
In 1991, the District of Columbia government proposed opening a 50-bed emergency shelter for homeless men at the Guy Mason Recreation Center in Glover Park in upper Northwest Washington, DC, the wealthiest area of the District.
Many in the area reacted negatively to the proposal. They argued that there were no homeless people in upper Northwest, so services for them were not needed.
But other neighbors thought it was time for the residents of upper Northwest to do their part to find positive solutions to homelessness in our city. A small group of these concerned citizens convened to look for ways to make a difference. They hired a graduate student to go out and answer the question once and for all: Were there homeless people living in their midst? In a one-night survey, the student found—among the stately homes of Ward 3—more than 100 men and women living in the parks and alleyways.
That was all it took. The group mobilized. Within a few years, working with local congregations who had come together to address the issue from a faith perspective, they opened a drop-in center on Wisconsin Avenue in Tenleytown and five small congregation-based shelters.
This was the grassroots beginning of Friendship Place, which operated in its early years entirely on private donations from caring neighbors and with an all-volunteer staff.
Today, Friendship Place has a paid staff of more than 100 and serves throughout the DC Metro region, with successful, award-winning programs that have a lasting impact on the lives of more than 1,600 people a year: street outreach, drop-in, free medical and psychiatric clinic, case management, transitional housing, permanent supportive housing, rapid rehousing, job placement, and specialized programs for veterans and their families. Because of our outstanding outcomes, our program models are studied by government and nonprofit entities all over the country wishing to replicate our success.
Nonetheless, Friendship Place—supported by 26 congregations and more than 300 volunteers a year—retains the feel of a small, caring, neighborhood organization. The most commonly repeated refrain we hear from the people who come to us for help is this: “At other agencies, I felt like a number. At Friendship Place, I’m treated like a human being.”