Good Faith Mission: Good Faith Communities Coalition is an alliance of faith communities in the District of Columbia who advocate for adequate and affordable housing and services for persons who are homeless and marginalized.
Good Faith’s overall goals are based on the belief that all our neighbors are children of God and that safe, appropriate, affordable, sustainable housing is a human right and a community obligation.
Building on recent accomplishments, Good Faith, through community education and prayer as well as advocacy based on our Biblical call to justice, will focus on five initiatives in the areas of homelessness and affordable housing that are promising, but need continuing support and monitoring
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) – full funding of priorities detailed in the Interagency Council on Homelessness 2016 Report, TANF Hardship Exemption Policy for DC.
TANF is the only cash assistance program for DC needy families. In FY 2016 and FY2017, the City Council provided a one year extension to enable further study and recommendations. The 2016 report recommends eliminating the 60-month program participation limit, continues participation in job training as a requirement and would continue the children’s stipend (80% of the monthly payment) even if the parent’s fail to meet training requirements.
The federal budget for TANF is a block grant that has not changed since passage in 1996. DC receives $92 million annually, diminished by 1/3 due to inflation. At present 15 thousand DC families are enrolled in TANF. 5,700 of these families have exceeded the 60-month limit – 96% are single women with 10 thousand children. The average benefit per family is $451 per month. The benefit includes some services such as child care, but doesn’t include housing assistance. Desired outcome: Mayor and Council fully support the restructured plan as detailed in ICH report and fully fund the program ($32 million) in the FY2018 budget. Mayor’s Proposed Budget FY 2018: Councilmember Nadeau has introduced legislation to eliminate the 60 month limit on TANF participation and to dedicate 80% of monthly payments to children’s support. Councilmember Gray has introduced a different TANF bill that keeps the 60 month limit, but increases benefits by 26.7%. The council has scheduled a hearing for both bills (Good Faith testimony: TANF Restructuring Legislation). The Mayor has included some funding ($8.1 million) for a restructured TANF, with a different non-compliance structure than the Council legislation.
Chronic Homelessness – additional funding for Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH), and Targeted Affordable Housing (TAH) vouchers for chronically homeless singles as well as Rapid Rehousing (RRH) slots for singles. Initial funding for replacement or restoration of shelters for singles.
The January 2016 Point in Time Count detailed the chronically homeless population in DC: 1501 chronically homeless single adults, 1261 sheltered for the night, 240 on the street. In the first half of 2016, DC housed 505 veterans. Permanent supportive housing (PSH) is proven to work for those that need sustained help to maintain housing. Mayor’s Proposed Budget FY 2018: the Mayor has included 162 PSH housing units for individuals experiencing chronic homelessness and an additional 100 rental only vouchers for individuals who are homeless – 30% of what is needed to end chronic homelessness.
Not to be forgotten:
– The city has 6 chronically homeless shelters for singles with 1120 beds. Deteriorating conditions with minimal services don’t lead to hope or change, nor are they temporary for many. More case managers are needed to manage clientele and help with transitions to appropriate housing.
– Coordinated entry for services including housing ensures fairness and must be supported.
– The Downtown Service Center is a critical need and must move beyond planning stage.
Preservation and construction of affordable housing for families with an Adjusted Median Income (AMI) of 0-30% through the Housing Production Trust Fund investment and through the recommendations of the DC Housing Preservation Task Force.
The city lost at least 1,000 units of subsidized housing between 2006 and 2014; another 1,750 units are at risk. 35 thousand households seeking housing assistance are considered housing burdened, spending more than 30% of their income on housing.
The Housing Production Trust Fund (HPTF) for the past two years has invested $200 million in new and renovated housing producing and preserving 8,583 affordable units. There are 2,300 more in the pipeline. Given the efficiency of expenditure from the Fund in the past two years, it is clear that additional funds could be handled for good advantage. However, recently uncovered oversight lapses need to be addressed before additional funding is likely.
The city can’t build its way out of the housing crisis. Recommendations from the Task Force on preservation as well as initiatives such as Inclusionary Zoning are critical to providing as many units as possible. Recommendation for FY 2018 – $150M for HPTF. Mayor’s Proposed Budget FY 2018: The Mayor has included $100M for the Housing Production Trust Fund and $10M for housing preservation. And $2.5M for more housing inspectors.
Homeward DC – implementation of year 2 and planning for year 3.
The FY2017 Budget was the highest budget for homeless services in the District’s history ($173M), but it fell short in funding year 2 of Homeward DC. Actions: monitor implementation of the FY2017 budget and support full funding of year 3 of the strategic plan in the FY2018 budget. Mayor’s Proposed Budget FY 2018: the Mayor has included $15.2 for the next year of Homeward DC. Budgeted items not clearly defined.