Kenneth counted his time living on the streets not in years, but in presidential administrations. While he was experiencing homelessness, Presidents Reagan, H.W. Bush, Clinton, W. Bush, Obama, and Trump all occupied the Oval Office. All told, Kenneth endured more than thirty years without a home.
While Kenneth’s story may seem like an outlier, it’s really not. As Lindsay Curtin, Director of our Street Outreach program explains, “Several of our clients have experienced homelessness for more than a decade. Though each of their circumstances is unique, we see a lot of common themes.”
Barriers often include some combination of a severe lack of affordable housing, stagnant wages, and limited access to health care. Years—and even decades—on the street further compound these barriers. People can become extremely isolated and disconnected. In Kenneth’s case, he felt invisible and alone in a city of over 600,000 residents.
That’s why our Outreach Team is such a critical part of DC’s plan to end homelessness. This team is one of four citywide teams specifically designed to meet people wherever they are, build relationships, and connect them with housing and other services.
Our collective advocacy efforts are also part of the solution. MK and our partners spurred historic levels of city funding to help end homelessness for hundreds of DC residents.
Thanks to donors like you, Kenneth has finally moved home. Your funding supported Angela, an MK Outreach Specialist, who worked tirelessly alongside Kenneth on the final steps of his housing journey. As Kenneth says, “When Angela came into the picture, everything started clicking.” Angela and Kenneth met regularly at the Georgetown Library and nearby Montrose Park. First, Angela connected Kenneth with a community mental health center. Then, they completed housing applications and looked at potential apartments. She even fixed a glitch that had prevented the Social Security Administration from issuing his disability benefits.
Looking back Kenneth says, “I learned I had to keep praying because God opens doors.” Now that he doesn’t have to worry about his day to day survival, Kenneth is reaching out to other people he knew from his time on the streets to make sure they too are getting the services they need. Kenneth has started reconnecting with his family back in North Carolina and hopes that someday they can visit him and see the life he is rebuilding.