Tag Archives: Homelessness

A Day in the Strife: Showing our Councilmembers what it’s like on the poverty line

Kwame Brown greets the crowd

Councilmember Kwame Brown greets the crowd

Over 200 people – most of whom will be directly impacted by proposed budget cuts – descended upon the Wilson building yesterday, inviting the City Council to see what life is like for DC residents living in poverty. For more photos, visit our Facebook page (and give us a “like” while you’re there!)

We asked that the City Concil make our walk a little easier by fully funding safety net services, including services to victims of domestic violence, shelters for families and individuals, affordable housing, and family support services.

For a fraction of DC’s $9 billion budget, the city could fund essential public services. When there’s plenty of funding to go around, we shouldn’t have to choose between services like protecting injured workers and providing affordable housing.

  • A luxury tax of only 6 cents a drink would mean that families don’t have to sleep on the street.
  • Asking couples that together earn over $350,000 to pay their fair share would mean that victims of domestic violence would have a safe place to stay.
  • Using some of the $240 million surplus from last year, or the millions of dollars of surplus this year would mean that someone who was once homeless will have a place to call home.

    Councilmember Jim Graham also spoke with us

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Homeless Families interrupt DC City Council Budget Hearing, demand housing for all

This Monday, families staying from the DC General Family Shelter entered the Budget Support Act Hearing to the tune of a gospel song. Children delivered small houses to DC City Council members, including Chairman Kwame Brown, and the families urged the Council to oppose Mayor Gray’s proposed cuts to housing services.

Here’s some more media coverage of the action:

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Take action – Tell Mayor Gray to Invest in affordable housing


Mayor Gray is finalizing his proposed District budget for FY2013 right now. Please join the Fair Budget Coalition in calling or emailing Mayor Gray on Wednesday, February 29 to demand that he include investments and policy changes in the upcoming budget that will make it possible for people of all backgrounds to live in the District of Columbia.


A suggested outline for your phone call or email to the Mayor is included below.


You can email Mayor Gray at vincent.gray@dc.gov and CC his Budget Director, Eric Goulet, at eric.goulet@dc.gov. The phone number to the mayor’s office is 202-727-6263:.


Phone Script:


Hi my name is ___________. I support the Fair Budget Coalition’s recommendations for more affordable housing and better housing policy. I’m calling to ask Mayor Gray to fund housing and homeless programs that allow all District residents to live in DC.


Email script:


Subject Line: I support a budget that makes it possible to live in DC!


Dear Mayor Gray,


My name is _________, and I live/work in the District. I believe that you can make One City possible by creating opportunities to live in theDistrict of Columbia through your FY 13 budget. In particular, I believe this can be done by adopting the Fair Budget Coalition’s recommendations, which include:


  • Directing $34 million in funding to the District’s core affordable housing programs [including the Housing Production Trust Fund, the Local Rent Supplement Program, Housing First, and Home Purchase Assistance].
  • Investing $2.25 million to provide intensive employment supports and stable housing to enable homeless families on TANF to move to work and towards self-sufficiency.
  • Investing $2.5 million to create housing and social services for homeless young people.
  • Encouraging the District’s housing and human-services agencies to work together to reduce pressure on the emergency shelter system by helping tenants to avoid unnecessary evictions.


More information about these recommendations can be found at www.makeonecitypossible.com. Thank you for your time.






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The time is now for permanent, affordable housing

By Elizabeth Falcone, Campaign Organizer, Coalition for Nonprofit Housing & Economic Development (CNHED)

This blog post is a joint production with the Housing for All campaign.

This winter, the need for affordable housing has become a major focus of city officials and the local media.

Residents of all backgrounds and income levels raised concerns about affordable housing at Mayor Gray’s One City Summit. The One City Summit was designed to collect input from District residents about their concerns and priorities. At the summit, residents identified “lack of affordable housing/gentrification” as the number one concern raised by participants that would prevent DC from becoming One City. Mayor Gray has committed that the input from the event will shape his administration and this year’s budget.

Another major issue is the expanding crisis of family homelessness the District is facing right now. The city has seen a huge increase in family homelessness this winter and is scrambling to meet these people’s needs. They are doing so by expanding temporary housing solutions – increasing the number of families housed at DC General to 750 and housing about 200 families a week in hotel rooms.

According to a recent article in the Washington City Paper, Department of Human Services Director David Berns “attributes this year’s unforeseen spike in homeless families to economic forces above all of our heads, and the ‘changing face of homelessness’ that has more working families without a place of their own.…“The fact is that they’re still poor, the economy is horrible, they’re doubled up and people want them out,” Berns says. “So I think we need to concentrate more on the fact that it is poverty, a lack of jobs, a lack of housing opportunities.”

These issues point to the same thing: DC needs long-term affordable housing options.

Given the high numbers of homelessness individuals and families in DC it is crucial that the city maintain funds for shelter and other homeless services year-round.

At the same time, the city needs to invest in permanent affordable housing solutions that take people off the street in the long term and prevent more people from falling into homelessness. Permanent housing solutions for homeless populations are shown to be cheaper for governments. And of course, they are better for the individuals and families as well. Having stable housing allows adults to be better employees and parents, and improves student performance.

DC has valuable programs to develop more affordable housing and move people out of homelessness. The Local Rent Supplement Program and Housing First are designed to provide housing the lowest-income residents. Housing First also provides the services that many people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness need. The Housing Production Trust Fund increases the number of affordable units available all over the city for people at varying income levels.

With enough funding these programs can turn the tide on the rising homeless crisis and make possible the Mayor’s vision of One City. Funding these long-term housing solutions takes the emergency pressure off the shelter system, and gives families the opportunity to build more stable, valuable lives for themselves. It is time for the Mayor and the Council to address the concerns of District residents, and invest in creating a city we can all afford to live in.

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