Community Foundation Statement on DC’s CARE Pilot Program

At the Greater Washington Community Foundation, we know that housing ends homelessness and we believe that everyone deserves a safe, stable, and affordable place to call home. We work closely with the DC government through our Partnership to End Homelessness and we share the goal of ensuring that homelessness is rare, brief, and non-recurring. We support the city’s efforts to expedite housing placement for people  experiencing homelessness and are encouraged by the number of residents living in encampments who are being offered housing through the city’s new “CARE pilot program.”

However, we share the concerns of our partners at The Way Home Campaign and join them in calling on the DC government to revisit the pilot program. We strongly oppose the creation of “no tent zones” and any criminalization of homelessness or poverty. In alignment with CDC guidance, we urge the city to suspend all encampment clearing while residents wait for housing placement. We know that clearings destroy communities, criminalize homelessness, and push people into different encampments or other hard to locate places, making it difficult to connect them with services, and potentially spreading the Delta variant of COVID-19. 

Addressing homelessness is a matter of racial equity and social justice. We cannot continue to punish individuals for the failures of systems and must instead apply this urgency and attention to connecting residents with housing using a person-centered approach that honors human dignity.