By Jennifer Olney, Community Investment Officer, Partnership to End Homelessness
As the Mayor and City Council are considering the FY2023 budget for DC, we face a historic opportunity to end chronic homelessness in DC. Last year, the DC Budget made significant investments in Permanent Supportive Housing, a proven solution to end housing instability for individuals who have experienced homelessness for an extended period of time and who struggle with complex health challenges such as mental illness, addiction, physical disabilities, or other chronic conditions.
This year, the Partnership to End Homelessness is working with our nonprofit, government, and public sector partners to build on this progress and leverage both federal and local resources available to end homelessness and make even more investments in long-term solutions.
We know that our investments alone will never end homelessness and that public sector resources must be targeted to support our neighbors who are struggling with homelessness and housing instability. That is why we created the Partnership to End Homelessness – to bring together public and private sector around a shared strategy to ensure all our neighbors have a safe, stable, and affordable place to call home.
We hope you will consider joining us in this critical work. There are three immediate and exciting opportunities to help advance the work of the Partnership in 2022:
Securing Public Sector Investments for housing and ending homelessness
Last week, we sent a letter to Mayor Bowser asking her to use the revised 2022 budget and 2023 budget to continue to address housing challenges — specifically by expanding Permanent Supportive Housing, as well as Rental Assistance and Eviction Prevention.
In addition to our own advocacy, we’re making our second round of housing justice grants to support our nonprofit partners leading budget advocacy and other essential systems change efforts. Last year their work secured historic investments, including almost 2,300 new vouchers for Permanent Supportive Housing. You can read more about those grants and how to get involved here.
If you live or work in DC, we encourage you to get involved! Our elected officials need to hear from you. Tell them that increasing access to affordable housing and ending homelessness are a priority and that our future will be stronger if we do these things. Our partners at The Way Home Campaign have made it easy, click hear to send a letter now .
Investing in our nonprofits to leverage federal resources to end homelessness
DC has an opportunity to leverage up to $20+ million in annual federal resources for Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) services in DC. This year, DC will launch a new Medicaid Benefit that will provide higher reimbursement rates for nonprofit providers and new and ongoing federal resources for ending homelessness in DC.
In order to successfully leverage these resources, nonprofits will need to adopt new practices, quality control checks, and new or updated internal systems related to human resources, accounting, and compliance functions. We are working with our partners to raise critical funds to invest across the system to ensure all nonprofit partners, including smaller Black and Brown-led organizations, are ready to make this transition and leverage these new resources.
Ensuring housing stability through rental assistance and eviction prevention
One of the key roles that we, as philanthropy, can play is that of convener. In response to the devastating effects of the pandemic and economic crisis, for over a year now, The Partnership has been working with Urban Institute and The DC Bar Foundation to convene key partners – including local government, philanthropy, legal services, landlords, and housing counseling organizations – to prevent evictions and connect tenants to available rental assistance.
We know that our Black and Brown neighbors have faced higher rates of unemployment and eviction during the pandemic With 21,000 DC residents currently unemployed, we cannot stop working to ensure tenants can stay in their homes. We will continue to advocate for additional resources for tenants and to work with our partners to develop new systems that support tenants and their landlords to increase housing stability.
We know that increasing housing stability and ending homelessness will pay off, in stronger families, stronger communities, and a stronger future for this region. Research confirms that housing instability harms a child’s development and an adult’s ability to get and retain employment, and that providing housing stability creates better health and better futures for children, their families, and single adults.
This year presents an opportunity for DC. How will we respond? Ending homelessness will take everyone working together and doing their part. We hope you will join us.
The Partnership to End Homelessness works to ensure homelessness is rare, brief, and nonrecurring in Washington, DC. By joining together, we can increase the supply of deeply affordable housing, bolster our response system to help more people obtain and maintain stable housing, and ultimately end homelessness in DC