As readers of this blog are well aware, the District has witnessed an unsettling surge in its already-sizable homeless population over the past year, and the crisis has hit DC families especially hard. This past winter, the number of families living in DC shelters exploded. At one point, over 775 families—including 1,491 children—were living in emergency shelter. This overwhelmed the District’s system, and many families were placed in recreation centers which were found by the courts to pose the risk of irreparable harm to children.
Right now, we have the opportunity to put a plan in place that will ensure homeless families get the help they need and that the crisis from last winter will not be repeated. A group of 23 organizations, led by the DC Fair Budget Coalition and the DC Fiscal Policy Institute, have put together a report entitled “Helping Families Home: A Roadmap for the District.” The document outlines how, through the 2015 budget, the DC Council can devote the resources necessary to make sure that homeless families in the District are provided year-round access to decent shelter as well as sufficient case management and services to help these families quickly move from shelter to a safe and stable home.
You can help by signing a petition to the DC Council in support of the roadmap and encouraging your friends to sign it as well.
The “Helping Families Home” roadmap provides a straightforward and navigable path the District can take in order to create a high-quality family homelessness system. It establishes ten goals for DC’s family homelessness system and describes the way in which specific programs, such as Rapid Re-Housing and a local rent supplement program, can better help achieve these goals.
Legal Aid believes that urgent action to address the affordable housing and homelessness crisis in the District is needed. We enthusiastically support a clear and reasonable plan that would expand opportunities for D.C. families enduring homelessness. By signing the petition, you can too.