First family visits D.C. shelter, highlights homeless veterans’ plight

By Juliet Eilperin November 25, 2015

President Obama, joined by his wife and daughters, served Thanksgiving dinner in a D.C. shelter Wednesday to highlight the administration’s efforts to end homelessness among U.S veterans.

The first family visited Friendship Place, which is located in the basement of St. Luke’s Church in Northwest Washington. The shelter, which received a $3.1 million grant from the Department of Veterans Affairs this year to improve its capacity to address veteran homelessness, operates the program Veterans First, a leading provider of housing services to veterans and their families in the area that currently serves 550 households.

The Obamas, along with some friends, served dinner as part of the shelter’s “Feast with Friends” event. Each member of the family had assigned duties: The president served turkey and ladled gravy; Michelle Obama distributed vegetables; Malia doled out mashed potatoes; Sasha gave out stuffing and cranberry sauce and Marian Robinson dished out macaroni and cheese.

“We appreciate you,” the president said, asking another, “How you been?”

The White House, which first launched an effort to end homelessness in June 2010, has intensified its push targeting homeless veterans this year. The mayors of the 25 cities with the largest populations of homeless veterans in the nation have publicly pledged to end veteran homelessness in their communities by the end of this year, and Virginia announced on Veterans Day it had become the first state to end homelessness among those who have served in the military.

Homelessness among American veterans declined 36 percent between 2010 and January 2015, according to White House officials, with unsheltered homelessness among veterans decreasing by 50 percent during that same period.

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