“We are not numbers. We are humans and we deserve as much as everyone else even though we’re homeless. I didn’t just leave where I was at and choose to be homeless. I was put out and I needed help.” Testimony of Malvern Reid, Council Committee on Human Services. 7/2/14.
Council Prepares for Summer Recess…
The DC Council recesses on July 15th for the remainder of the summer. The budget has been passed with additional funds for homeless services and affordable housing, but adequate funding and plans for meeting the needs of the anticipated influx of new homeless families in the coming hypothermia season beginning in November remains uncertain at best:
- Somewhere over 400 apartments have been identified through the Mayor’s 500 Homes initiative, but only 55 – 60 families have been moved out of DC General per month, rather than the 100 per month needed to empty the shelter by fall. At this current exit rate between 230 and 254 families will remain in shelter November 1. This is close to full capacity.
- The FY 2015 Human Services budget contains no funding for motels and only funding for 150 families at DC General. Over $9 million was spent on motels this year.
- The Dignity for Homeless Families Amendment Act of 2014 clarifies that families who are homeless must be sheltered in apartments or private rooms, not in spaces with partitions such as the rec centers of this past winter. Advocates, including Good Faith, proposed an amendment to this clarification to ensure families would not only be safely sheltered, but continuously sheltered until suitable alternative housing could be found. This Act has had a public hearing, but no Council action to date. Good Faith testimonies at the public hearing: Rev. James Terrell’s and Rev. John Graham’s testimonies.
- Homeless Prevention Program, based on NYC’s very successful Homebase program, uses an assessment tool to identify the families most likely to enter shelter and provides these families with ongoing case management and service referrals. In NY those provided with assistance were half as likely to apply for shelter as those in a control group without assistance. The Council added $2 million for a similar program in DC this fall and also developed guidelines for the program.
- Disposition of District Land for Affordable Housing Act of 2013 would allow public land to be sold below market value to developers who agree to provide affordable housing in new development: 30% of the units within 1/2 mile of Metro or other priority transit and in other areas 20% of the units. This approach uses land value rather than tax dollars to provide subsidies and it would create mixed income communities throughout the city. It is anticipated that the Council would vote on this legislation before adjournment.
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