The Way Home Campaign Outlines D.C. Budget and Policy Priorities for 2015

The Way Home Campaign Outlines D.C. Budget and Policy Priorities for 2015

Recommendations Aim to End Chronic Homelessness in D.C. By Increasing Investment and Efficiency in Permanent Supportive Housing Program


February 20, 2014 – Washington, D.C. – The Way Home Campaign, a collaboration of local non-profit organizations, faith-based communities, businesses and concerned residents, today released its budget and policy recommendations for D.C.’s fiscal year 2015 budget. The recommendations have the specific goals of ending chronic homelessness in D.C. by the end of 2017, and ending chronic veterans homelessness by the end of 2015.

“In the past several months, we’ve witnessed cities like Salt Lake City and Phoenix end chronic homelessness among veterans,” said Jill Carmichael of Friendship Place, a founding member of The Way Home campaign.  “We know that the programs are proven not only to be effective but also save money. If we are going to experience the same success in D.C., we have to act now.”

The recommendations are designed to accelerate the D.C. Interagency Council on Homelessness’ Permanent Supportive Housing plan, which identifies a path to end chronic homelessness by 2020. This can be done by adding federal and private resources to the plan, while also taking steps to make future investments in the program more efficient.

“We need to take a first step in ending chronic homelessness for 609 chronically homeless city residents,” Carmichael said. “That can be done by constructing new housing units while leasing existing ones. Ultimately, this approach can put D.C. on track to end chronic homelessness by 2017.”

Specifically, the Way Home Campaign calls for construction of 322 new units of permanent supportive housing, and 287 new units of permanent supportive housing in the current rental market made affordable through a housing subsidy.

The 322 newly constructed units will require an investment of $37.7million of one-time capital assistance from D.C.’s Housing Production Trust Fund; $3.8 million in project/sponsor-based Local Rent Supplement; and $3.2 million to the Department of Human Services for supportive “wrap-around” services for PSH residents.

Meanwhile, an investment of $6.5 million in the DHS Permanent Supportive Housing program would provide housing and services to approximately 287 chronically homeless individuals and families.  Unlike new construction, which takes several years to complete, the DHS PSH program subsidizes apartments currently on the market and serves people immediately.  If appropriately targeted to the chronically homeless veteran community, $4.6 million of this investment would put D.C. on the path to end chronic veteran homelessness by 2015.

“D.C. already pays the hidden price of homelessness in many unexpected ways,” said Kate Coventry of the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute, “including shelter costs, emergency room visits, in-patient hospital stays, incarceration, mental health treatment, first responder and other emergency service costs. All of these expenditures could be reduced by housing those most at-risk.”

To ensure that this investment is spent as wisely as possible, The Way Home campaign also calls for key measures to ensure that D.C’s housing resources are used most effectively. For example, the campaign calls for D.C. to implement a coordinated entry system for individuals who are homeless.  This system would streamline access to housing and homeless assistance services, like Permanent Supportive Housing, by assessing people’s needs to determine which programs are the best fit, and by screening applicants for eligibility for these programs. Furthermore, this system will create a central priority housing registry that prioritizes housing based on one’s length of homelessness and overall vulnerability.   This will ensure that new Permanent Supportive Housing serves people who have been homeless for years and are most at risk.

These recommendations come amidst a renewed commitment towards homelessness by D.C. City Council members. The Way Home Campaign is encouraged to report the following developments from the February 4 meeting of the City Council:

–          Mary Cheh (Ward 3) introduced a unanimously-supported resolution to end chronic homelessness in D.C. by 2020.

–          Jim Graham (Ward 1) introduced legislation that would require that the Department of Human Services fill all locally uncommitted permanent supportive housing slots.

–          Tommy Wells (Ward 6) introduced a bill to amend the Homeless Services Reform Act of 2005 to increase the Housing First Fund by $10 million dollars.

“We firmly believe that we are at a turning point regarding D.C.’s commitment to ending chronic homelessness,” said Kurt Runge of Miriam’s Kitchen. “It is now critical for concerned D.C. residents to let our elected officials know that homelessness is a priority issue among voters.”

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.

Campaign participants include Capitol Hill Group Ministries, 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.

Press Contact:
Tom Murphy
Director of Communication
Miriam’s Kitchen
(202) 452-8926 ext 235