(WASHINGTON, DC) – Mayor Bowser today attended a lease-agreement signing as part of the city’s successful “Home for the Holidays” campaign to place 400 of the District’s most vulnerable families and individuals into permanent housing during the holiday season. The celebration of the campaign took place at the Virginia Williams Family Resource Center, a central intake point for families and individuals experiencing homelessness, with four families receiving keys to their new homes. Tomorrow, an additional 20 families will sign lease agreements, bringing the total number of households housed during the campaign to 422. The Department of Human Services (DHS) will continue working with households across the city to prevent homelessness and move families and individuals into permanent housing.
“When we kicked off Home for the Holidays, we called on landlords across the city to partner with us – to provide accessible, affordable homes for Washingtonians in need. Over the past two months, we’ve seen landlords step up and answer our call. Now, we want to build on that momentum,” said Mayor Bowser. “This campaign may be ending, but our efforts to partner with landlords to get more residents on pathways to the middle class will continue until every resident has a safe place to call home.”
DHS kicked Home for the Holidays in November 2017. Throughout the two-month campaign, the agency hosted a series of landlord meetings to announce programmatic improvements to the District’s homeless services system and identify affordable homes and coordinated with the DC Housing Authority to identify additional apartment units. Additionally, members of the community supported the campaign by donating new and gently used housewares and children’s toys to families and individuals exiting homelessness.
“It’s through the gracious and rapid response of our community partners and stakeholders that we’ve reached the placement goal of this ambitious campaign,” said DHS Director Laura Zeilinger. “Our work doesn’t end here. We continue to ask landlords and District residents to work with us to reform the homeless services system and end long-term homelessness in the District.”
The Home for the Holidays campaign aligns with Homeward DC, Mayor Bowser’s five-year strategic plan for reforming the District’s homeless services system and making homelessness rare, brief, and nonrecurring. Over the summer, the Mayor broke ground on a short-term family housing building, marking a monumental step forward in the Administration’s effort to close and replace the DC General Family Shelter with dignified, service-enriched programs across all eight wards – a cornerstone of the Homeward DC plan. Additionally, in October 2017, Mayor Bowser announced the implementation of a Landlord Partnership Fund. The Landlord Partnership Fund will cover certain costs incurred by landlords of tenants whose rent is subsidized by a DHS homeless services intervention, such as the Rapid Rehousing or Permanent Supportive Housing programs. In return, landlords are expected to relax screening criteria for people experiencing certain barriers like poor credit and past evictions that have prevented them from securing housing on their own.
Between 2016 and 2017, after the first full year of implementing Homeward DC, Washington, DC saw 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.
Throughout #pathwaystothemiddleclass week, Mayor Bowser is highlighting the resources and programs the Administration is using to expand economic prosperity across all eight wards.