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Mayor Bowser Outlines Next Steps in Homelessness Plan and Calls on Residents to Sign Pledge

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Mayor Bowser Outlines Next Steps in Homelessness Plan and Calls on Residents to Sign Pledge

(Washington, DC) – Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser, City Administrator Rashad Young, Director of DC Department of Human Services Laura Zeilinger, Executive Director of the Interagency Council on Homelessness Kristy Greenwalt and other Administration officials participated in a meeting with members of the District’s Interagency Council on Homelessness (ICH). During the meeting, Mayor Bowser announced a set of legislative and administrative measures to improve the District’s homelessness crisis response system for families and called on residents to sign a pledge to end homelessness.

“Far too many men, women and children live on our streets and in our shelters,” said Mayor Bowser. “Ending homelessness in the District has to be a priority for all of us. We have a plan to make homelessness, rare, brief and non-recurring by 2020, and it’s on all of us to make that goal a reality. That’s why today, I’m asking residents to sign a pledge and commit to ending homelessness in the District.”

Residents can sign the Mayor’s pledge to end homelessness in the District by visiting mayor.dc.gov/homewarddc.

Bowser continued, “Together we will close DC General and implement an all eight wards strategy to end homelessness.”

Today, the Bowser Administration announced two legislative proposals that will be introduced later this month to strengthen the District’s homeless crisis response system. The first would amend the Homeless Services Reform Act to create an interim eligibility placement provision. This legislative provision would allow additional time for the District to determine shelter eligibility while at the same time ensuring the safety of families who have no identified safe alternative by providing them with shelter on an interim basis. The legislation would also provide families with a fair and speedy appeals process if it is determined they are not eligible for emergency shelter.

The second proposed legislative solution would clarify that the District may develop emergency housing that adheres to a private room requirement. These new emergency housing facilities will be safe, clean, modern developments with private rooms for families and the amenities and services they need to succeed in the long run.

“We are taking much needed steps towards ending homelessness in the District and closing DC General for good,” said Director Laura Zeilinger. “We’ve made strategic and purposeful investments that we know will have the biggest impact on residents experiencing or at-risk of homelessness. These changes to the District’s crisis response system have already begun improving the safety, security and solutions of families experiencing homelessness in the District.”

In recent months the Bowser Administration has taken steps to improve the District’s homelessness crisis response system:

  • Since April of this year, District families who would have otherwise been out on the streets have year-round access to shelter. In recent years, all families would have to wait until hypothermia to receive the safety of shelter.
  • Starting this month, the District will begin to offer robust prevention services to families at risk of experiencing homelessness.
  • Starting in November of this year, pending potential legislative action, the District will offer short-term interim eligibility placements to families when shelter eligibility cannot be immediately determined.
  • Over the course of the next few years, new emergency housing facilities for families will be brought online, in locations throughout the District, allowing the District to responsibly close and replace DC General Family Shelter.

Earlier this year, Mayor Bowser and the ICH released Homeward DC, a comprehensive five-year plan to make homelessness rare, brief and non-recurring. In the Mayor’s first budget, “Pathways to the Middle Class” the District made an historic $23 million down payment to make homelessness rare, brief and non-recurring. Today’s announcements mark the District’s next steps to make that goal a reality.