(Washington, DC) – Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser and the DC Department of Human Services (DHS) and non-profit service provider partner Friendship Place, announced the results of the District’s Point-In-Time (PIT) Count and celebrated one year of providing services to families at The Brooks, the short-term family housing (STFH) site in Ward 3. At the event, the Mayor also proclaimed April 29, 2021 a Day of Remembrance for Waldon Adams and Rhonda Whitaker, two beloved members of DC’s homeless advocacy community who tragically lost their lives at Hains Point last weekend.
“Every DC resident deserves safe and stable housing, and when we created Homeward DC, we called on every part of DC to be part of the housing solution,” said Mayor Bowser. “We are proud of the progress DC has made, and with the support of community partners like Friendship Place, we remain very focused on how we do more for our neighbors still in need of permanent housing.”
The Brooks, named in honor of homeless advocate and DC case manager Donald Brooks, opened its doors to families experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 public health emergency in April 2020, providing access to service-enriched programming that has assisted nearly 100 families to stabilize and exit homelessness. The program is operated by Friendship Place and is one of seven STFH programs established across the District.
“The Brooks opened during what can only be described as the most dangerous and vulnerable time in recent history for a family experiencing homelessness, which is why I am so appreciative and proud that Ward 3 has been able to welcome so many children and their parents to our community over the past year,” said Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh. “The coronavirus pandemic may have delayed the opening celebration of The Brooks, but it in no way slowed down the important, lifesaving work of DHS and Friendship Place.”
The Mayor also announced the results of the District’s 2021 PIT Count, an annual census of the number and demographic characteristics of adults and children experiencing homelessness in the District. On January 19, 2021, The Community Partnership for the Prevention of Homelessness (TCP) conducted the PIT Count on behalf of the District, a requirement for all jurisdictions receiving Federal homeless assistance funding. 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 with special consideration to Homeward DC, the District’s strategic plan to make homelessness rare, brief, and nonrecurring.
The results of this year’s PIT count show that the total number of persons experiencing homelessness in the District decreased by 19.9 percent from 2020, and family homelessness decreased by nearly 50% since last year and by 68.1% since the 2017 PIT count. Homelessness among unaccompanied individuals also decreased 2% between 2020 and 2021 is just under two. Though small, this drop is significant in that it is the first decrease among unaccompanied individuals in five years.
“Through system reforms and unprecedented investments in solutions we know that work to prevent and end homelessness, we are supporting District residents experiencing a housing crisis,” said DHS Director Laura Zeilinger. “We are connecting our neighbors to housing opportunities, ensuring they have a safe and dignified place to stay while they get back on their feet, and access to community-based resources that empower people to prosper.”
“We opened the doors of the Brooks during a difficult period for our community and the world,” said Friendship Place President & CEO Jean-Michel Giraud. “But I am proud of the work our staff has done during the last year to transition a great number of families from homelessness into stable housing. We thank Mayor Bowser for giving us the responsibility and the resources to give families in the District access to a better life.”
Since the launch of Homeward DC in 2016, the District has reduced overall homelessness by more than 31.6% and has reduced family homelessness by 68%. A centerpiece of this work is the Homelessness Prevention Program, which has successfully prevented a shelter stay for more than 8,000 District families.
The District is also leveraging federal resources to allow us to respond to the fundamental needs of the COVID-19 public health crisis, invest in the recovery of the city and its residents, and prevent evictions. Recently, Mayor Bowser launched STAY DC, a new $350 million program providing financial assistance to DC residents unable to pay rent and/or utilities due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Through STAY DC, the District will:
- Pay unpaid rent going back to April 1, 2020;
- Pay forward rent, up to 3 months at a time;
- Pay for water, gas, and electricity expenses on your behalf, and
- Provide extended housing support for up to 18 months, per tenant.
Anyone who is having trouble paying their rent or utility bills is encouraged to visit stay.dc.gov or call 833-4-STAYDC.