Housing Complex

Gray Announces Program to Locate Housing for Homeless Families

Overextended Stay

The city is putting up some homeless families in the Days Inn on New York Avenue NE.

Family homelessness has spiked in the District this year, and there are two principal causes, as I'll be detailing in this week's cover story, which will be online tomorrow and in print Thursday. The first is that there are too many families requiring shelter, due largely to the lack of affordable housing in the city. The second is that there are too few families exiting shelter—again, due largely to the lack of affordable housing.

The city's main program for moving homeless families out of shelter is rapid rehousing, in which the city subsidizes a family's housing for a limited period of time, until the family can afford the rent on its own. The problem is that the city won't approve housing that the family won't be able to cover alone someday, and so the dearth of affordable housing has meant few families moving into rapid rehousing.

In his State of the District address tonight, Mayor Vince Gray unveiled a plan to help speed up the flow of families out of shelter. The campaign, called "500 Families, 100 Days," aims to do what the name suggests: move at least 500 homeless families into rapid rehousing or permanent supportive housing between now and June, through outreach to potential landlords.

Gray acknowledged the problem at hand in his speech. "What’s limiting our capacity to help even more homeless families get back on their feet is our ability to identify additional apartments in which to place them," he said. He called his campaign, in collaboration with the Community Partnership for the Prevention of Homelessness and the Transitional Housing Corporation, "a call to arms" for everyone involved to help locate apartments that can house the homeless.

The effort is already underway. According to Department of Human Services spokeswoman Dora Taylor, last week alone, the campaign located 93 apartments that could potentially be used for rapid rehousing and is currently inspecting them. Typically, she says, there are 10 to 15 units per week identified for possible rapid rehousing inclusion.

According to a draft of the campaign plan from last week, the outreach will include focus groups of landlords to learn about their perceived obstacles to participating in the program and ad buys on "96.3, WAMU, 102.3 and other radio venues as well as local newspapers."

As D.C.'s economy has improved under Gray, the growing homelessness crisis has been a thorn in the administration's side—and a pitfall in his campaign for re-election. Outside the mayor's address at Kelly Miller Middle School, protesters staged a mock funeral in commemoration of homeless residents who have died on the streets. Gray's landlord campaign won't put a substantial dent in the shelter population in time for the mayoral primary on April 1, but if it's successful in moving more homeless residents into housing, it could repair his strained relationship with homeless advocates, who have advocated for similar measures.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

  • http://uuuuusssssaaaaa.wordpress.com William Hale

    One commenter pointed out legal conservators who co-sign financial decisions of the legal guardians of the children are essential for said guardians to keep guardianship in light of the fact said guardian cannot provide shelter for the child. Therefore, in order to protect the city of the district of columbia from a class action law suit on behalf of the homeless children, as well as to protect the children, shouldn't these plans be featuring the people who are mentoring, or serving as conservators, or trustees, for these homeless families?

    Just askin'

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  • John

    Gray takes action after a judge tells the city they must get families out of the rec centers. Gray is always a day late and a dollar short.

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  • Linda Davis

    And just where are the families will be placed??? I hope they will be placed in each of the Wards 1 thru 8. For God's sake do not place them all in one area, i.e. Wards 7 & 8!!!!! Those Wards are trying to obtain economic success that Wards 1 thru 6 enjoys. Please do not continue the negative images Wards 7 & 8 has already. Spread them out.

  • Insider Info

    The problem no one is seeing is that it is not financially smart to take Rapid Rehousing. The program only lasts for 12 months if the client gets re certified twice, and to do that they have to comply with the program rules. The rental market is saturated with subsidized money trained landlords that have been conditioned to receive guaranteed rent for section 8 which does not have a time limit. So why would a landlord take a client that financially cannot pay for the unit once they lease up? In a perfect world we are given chances to prove ourselves without consequences. This thought holds no merit when the client cannot pay and landlords are still required to pay their mortgages to the banks. If anything they should receive some kind of kickback for taking such a financial risk.

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  • mona

    This will only work if the city changes the laws on rentals and stop making so much in favor of tenants. Even if the city is paying this rent for 12 months what happens after that? Landlord now has potential for people who can't afford the rent and they could take up to a yr to get them out of there and so they go 1yr with no rent. No way would I agree to this and only landlords with really awful places will agree to do this. Change the laws and the city doesn't even have to do work the places they need will open up on their own. Right now if your a landlord you have screen like your doing a background check for the NSA before you hand over the keys to someone. Always knowing in the back of your mind that if you pick wrong the city will let them sit there for a year before getting them out.

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