(Washington, DC) – Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser, the Department of Human Services (DHS), and the Department of General Services (DGS) cut the ribbon on the new 801 East Men’s Shelter on the St. Elizabeths East campus in Ward 8. The new 88,000 square-foot shelter is the District’s first major shelter redevelopment project for individuals under Mayor Bowser’s Homeward DC strategic plan to make homelessness rare, brief, and nonrecurring.
“Since launching Homeward DC, we have been on a mission to transform our homeless services system so that we can prevent a shelter experience for more people, so that we can provide safe and dignified shelter when families and individuals do need somewhere to go, and so that we can expand access to housing supports and permanent supportive housing,” said Mayor Bowser. “Today marks another milestone in this work. This new shelter recognizes that not every person’s experience with homelessness is the same and it is designed to meet men where they are when they walk through the door. I am grateful for all the teams, service providers, and residents who came together to bring the vision for this shelter to life, and together, I know we will achieve what we set out to do: make homelessness rare, brief, and non-recurring.”
The new 801 East Men’s Shelter, a $56 million construction project, is 396-bed facility that includes a low-barrier shelter, a work bed program, beds reserved for seniors and individuals with medical needs, as well as capacity to expand during hypothermia season. The facility also includes a new daytime services center with a mail room, computer lab, barbershop, and laundry facility. In addition to the dedicated senior program, work bed program, and medical respite program, other on-site resources will include housing-focused case management, behavioral health and harm reduction supports, and a culinary training program.
“I’m thrilled to be welcoming people into this spectacular space that offers a setting that is consistent with our values,” said Laura Zeilinger, Director of the Department of Human Services. “This new program space is designed to respect the dignity and humanity of the people we will serve here. The design elements and program requirements were centered around the expertise of the people we serve. I’m grateful to the Mayor for this tremendous investment in our homeless services continuum.”
The Mayor was joined today by members of the Goodfellas Team, a group of residents from the old 801 East Men’s Shelter who received workforce training and were hired to help build the new shelter.
Since implementation of Homeward DC in 2016, the Bowser Administration has driven down overall homelessness by 38% and family homelessness by 73%. In that time period, the District increased investments in permanent supportive housing by 60%. The Mayor also made good on her commitment to close DC General and replace it with smaller, service-enriched short-term family housing shelters across DC. In July, Mayor Bowser launched Homeward DC 2.0, the District’s updated strategic plan. Homeward DC 2.0 includes a plan to build on the District’s progress in driving down family homelessness, with a strong focus on realizing similar progress among single adults experiencing homelessness.
According to the 2021 DC Point-in-Time Count, homelessness in DC decreased by 20% between 2020 and 2021. Notably, for the first time in five years, there was a small, but important reduction in single adult homelessness. This week, the Community Partnership for the Prevention of Homelessness (TCP) will conduct the District’s 2022 Point-in-Time Count, the annual census of the number and demographic characteristics of individuals experiencing homelessness in Washington, DC. This single-day enumeration of the homeless services continuum of care provides an opportunity to identify gaps in the current portfolio of services and informs future program planning. Individuals interested in volunteering Wednesday evening into early Thursday morning can learn more at dcpit.org.