New Initiative Aims to End Chronic Homelessness in Washington, D.C. by 2017

New Initiative Aims to End Chronic Homelessness in Washington, D.C. by 2017

“The Way Home: Ending Chronic Homelessness in D.C.” Will Build Public Support and Momentum around Proven Strategies to end Chronic Homelessness in our Nation’s Capital

Initial Efforts Will Target D.C.’s Chronically Homeless Veteran Population

January 29, 2014 – Washington, D.C. – Local non-profit organizations, faith-based communities, businesses and concerned residents joined together today to launch “The Way Home,” a campaign to end chronic homelessness in the District by 2017.  This grassroots advocacy campaign seeks to energize the entire community by highlighting the solutions to chronic homelessness, and building public support to make this issue a priority in D.C.

“Washington, D.C. is a world class city and can solve chronic homelessness,” said Kurt Runge, Advocacy Director at Miriam’s Kitchen, which is one of many founding members of The Way Home campaign.  “It simply isn’t acceptable for a city with our resources to tolerate vulnerable people living on streets and in shelters for years. This is the key to a healthy future for our communities. It represents an opportunity for Washington to be a leader and to set an example for the nation.”

The campaign will educate the public and policy makers about evidence-based solutions to chronic homelessness, such as Permanent Supportive Housing using the Housing First model. Housing First is the most effective intervention for homeless people facing the greatest risk, and those who have been homeless the longest. Prioritized to individuals facing the greatest need, the combination of a home with intensive supports provides the stability necessary for people to improve their health and thrive.

The Way Home campaign will provide the public with numerous opportunities to demonstrate their support for ending chronic homelessness in D.C. Residents will learn how to engage with public officials and candidates to make ending homelessness a priority, and how to enlist others in this effort.

As a first step towards ending chronic homelessness, the campaign will push for D.C. to join the ranks of Phoenix, Arizona, and Salt Lake City, Utah, to be one of the first communities to end chronic homelessness among veterans by the Federal goal of 2015.

“We are so encouraged by the federal and local commitment to our veterans,” said Christy Respress, Executive Director at Pathways to Housing DC, which is also a founding member of the campaign. “We look forward to continuing to partner together to ensure that people will no longer be homeless for years, especially those who served our country in the military.”

Campaign organizers cited both the human and financial cost that chronic homelessness has on the city.  Without the stability of housing and support, people who are chronically homeless are in a constant state of crisis, cycling in and out of shelters, emergency rooms, and other emergency services.  Numerous studies across the country have shown that a Housing First approach, targeted to the city’s most at-risk residents, can save from $2,000 to as high as $30,000 per person per year.

“Ending chronic homelessness is urgent. We have a frail and aging population on the street, and they will die young if we do not act now,” said Jill Carmichael, Division Director at Friendship Place. “Homelessness is a crisis in the District, but we know that the solution is housing. We have watched other cities embrace successful strategies, and we know that it is time for Washington to join them.”

Campaign participants include Christ House, the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute, the Fair Budget Coalition, Foundry United Methodist Church, the Fr. McKenna Center, Friendship Place, Good Faith Communities, the Ida Mae Campbell Wellness Center, Ideal Impact, Miriam’s Kitchen, the National Alliance to End Homelessness, Open Arms Housing, Pathways to Housing DC, the People for Fairness Coalition, Thrive DC,  the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless, the Washington Interfaith Network and  Western Presbyterian Church.

The Way Home:  Ending Chronic Homelessness in D.C. is a grassroots advocacy campaign to end chronic homelessness in the District of Columbia by 2017. It is composed of a community network of non-profit organizations, faith-based communities, and concerned citizens. The Way Home campaign seeks to energize the entire community around this goal by raising awareness to the causes and solutions to chronic homelessness and building public support to make this a priority in D.C. http://www.thewayhomedc.org/

Press Contact:
Tom Murphy
Director of Communication
Miriam’s Kitchen
(202) 368-8571
tom@miriamskitchen.org