(Washington, DC) – Today, Mayor Bowser broke ground on a short-term family housing building, marking a monumental step forward in the Administration’s effort to close and replace DC General Family Shelter with dignified, service-enriched programs across all eight wards. Short-Term Family Housing is a critical piece of the District’s crisis response system and the Administration’s plan to make homelessness rare, brief, and non-recurring. The Mayor was joined at the groundbreaking by Ward 4 Councilmember Brandon Todd, city officials, members of the Ward 4 Short-Term Family Housing Advisory Team and community members.
“DC Values include making homelessness rare, brief and nonrecurring,” said Mayor Muriel Bowser. “DC General has too often failed to help the families who need us most. Today by breaking ground on safe and dignified short-term family housing, the District takes us one big step toward helping those families and ending homelessness in the District."
Establishing an effective crisis response system, including the development of smaller, community based short-term family housing programs, is a concrete step laid out in Homeward DC, the Bowser Administration’s strategic plan to end homelessness in the District by 2020. Each short-term family housing building will provide a safe, clean and private place for up to 50 families while they work to obtain permanent housing. Unlike DC General, these buildings will have places for children of all ages to play and do homework and will include services to help families quickly stabilize and exit shelter.
“After one year of implementation of Homeward DC and unprecedented investments in the solutions we know work to end homelessness, we are seeing marked progress,” said DHS Director Laura Zeilinger. “We know that the development of the new short-term family housing will play a critical role in helping District families regain the stability of permanent housing.”
“Emergency housing is a critical component of any homeless service system,” said DC Interagency Council on Homelessness Director Kristy Greenwalt. “Ensuring that we have facilities that are of a more appropriate scale and quality is an essential part of the Homeward DC plan.”
Mayor Bowser and the DC Council have appropriated unprecedented resources to implement Homeward DC, and data shows that after only one full year of implementation, the reforms are taking root. In the last year alone, Washington, DC has seen a 10.5 percent reduction in overall homelessness, a 22 percent reduction in homelessness among families, a 15 percent reduction among veterans experiencing homelessness, and a 3 percent reduction among individuals experiencing homelessness.
“The Department of General Services is committed to elevating the quality of life for all District residents especially those in need of housing support,” said Department of General Services Director Greer Gillis. “We are honored to be a part of the team taking the first step in making the Mayor's vision a reality.”
The Administration’s plan to end homelessness embraces a housing-first strategy with the underlying goal of permanent housing for all residents. The Bowser Administration has invested more per capita in affordable housing than any other jurisdiction in the country, investing $100 million annually to DC’s Housing Production Trust Fund. In just the last fiscal year, the Administration committed more than $106 million to the construction and preservation of more than 1,200 housing units. Since taking office, Mayor Bowser has launched new homeless prevention services, preventing a shelter stay for 3,200 families; increased investments in permanent housing programs by nearly 60 percent; developed interim eligibility to provide immediate shelter for families in urgent need; and connected more than 1,900 veterans to permanent housing.