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Mayor Bowser Announces Initiative to Help Families Experiencing Homelessness Find Quality, Affordable Housing

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser, Acting Director of the DC Department of Human Services (DHS) Laura Zeilinger, and Interagency Council on Homelessness Director Kristy Greenwalt held a press conference at the Virginia Williams Resource Center to announce an innovative initiative to help homeless families find quality, affordable housing.

The initiative allocates funding for a variety of programs designed to help families exit homelessness by providing the services and financial assistance needed to regain stability in housing.

The District will assemble a team of leasing specialists, inspectors, social service professionals as “housing navigators” who are charged with identifying housing opportunities and matching units to clients based on need.

“As part of my Administration’s effort to end homelessness, we are launching an initiative to help give families who experience homelessness a fresh start. We will bring on professionals to increase the District’s capacity to quickly connect families experiencing homelessness to housing opportunities in the private market,” said Mayor Bowser. “Family homelessness is a city-wide problem that affects every part of our city. We will make sure families experiencing homelessness have the resources they need to find quality, affordable housing. My administration is committed to tackling homelessness head-on: we will end family homelessness in the District by 2018, and all homelessness by 2025.”

The team will work to quickly connect families to housing opportunities by:

  • Reducing the length of time that families experience homelessness
  • Alleviating the need for overflow shelter capacity at motels
  • Improving the District’s capacity to meet the needs of families who are experiencing homelessness

“We know that when a family experiences homelessness, leadership is critical in putting the right resources together to provide a smart, effective response. Often, this does not fall within the lines of one city agency, and that’s why we are taking a comprehensive approach to combat this issue,” said Acting DHS Director Laura Zeilinger.

The formation of this team will increase the District’s capacity to work across agencies to specifically place families experiencing homelessness in a permanent home. This team will engage landlords, help to complete timely inspection of properties, ensure that housing meets quality standards, negotiate rents and expedite the processing of paperwork to identify housing that is appropriate to meet the needs of families.