Good Faith Priorities: FY 2018 Budget – Gains and Gaps

The FY2018 budget will provide additional resources for affordable housing and services for individuals and families living in deep poverty. All good news! However, significant funding gaps remain. The most Wilson Bldgserious is the need for long term rental vouchers to assist those families living in deep poverty with serious barriers to employment move from shelter to permanent housing.

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), the only cash assistance program for DC needy families, was restructured and funded as a flexible safety net that gives priority to children’s needs. Assistance continues with no rigid time limit as long as families experience economic hardship. Children’s benefits (80% of monthly benefit) continue even if parents are not in compliance. Benefits would increase to $644 per month in FY2019 for a family of 3. This benefit is in line with major urban areas.  (Good Faith #1 Priority)
Housing for chronically homeless single adults and families.  Permanent Supportive Housing (rental assistance with case management) has proven a very successful program for the chronically homeless. More than 400 additional vouchers for individuals and families have been funded for FY 2018. GAP: This investment will cover less than half the goal set to end chronic homelessness for single adults.
Moving families out of shelter into permanent housing: Rapid-rehousing (RRH) is the District’s one-size-fits-all program that assists families to exit shelter. At present 1300 families are in the program (one year of rent with minimal case management). An additional 720 families are in shelter awaiting permanent housing or RRH. GAP: Though additional slots (184 for single adults and 186 for families) for those needing permanent rental assistance after participation in RRH were added, the need continues to outstrip the available resources by a large margin.
CHALLENGE: A recent report from the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless, Set Up to Fail, questions the effectiveness of the Rapid Rehousing program for families living in deep poverty.  More discussion on the program is needed and alternatives explored.
Affordable Housing: $10 million was appropriated for preserving existing low-cost housing and $19 million will go to repair public housing units. $100 million investment in the Housing Production Trust Fund will support the renovation or construction of approximately 1000 affordable homes. 40% of the expenditures are targeted to address the housing needs of those living in deep poverty. Challenge: Without additional housing vouchers to assist with rent, this goal will be almost impossible to meet. Only $2 million dollars was appropriated for these vouchers for FY 2018.

 Reading list for those confronting a world out of focus.

Shelter Census, May 30, 2017: 720 families with 1452 children resided in shelter or transitional housing on this date.  1040 single men and women also resided in shelters.
                                                                    IN THE NEWS
Homeward DC, 2015-2020. Inter-agency Council on Homelessness Strategic Plan, 2015-2020.  Read Executive Summary.
Point in time count 2017.  Fact Sheet.

Newsletter current and previous.
Biblical Roots of Justice – Foundation of the Journey for Justice:  an interfaith conversation on homelessness and the Journey for Justice for our neighbors who are without homes (10 minutes)