(Washington, DC) – The Bowser Administration announced today that a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Short-Term Family Housing program in the District’s Ward 4, known as The Kennedy, will be hosted on Wednesday, September 26, 2018.
DC General Family Shelter is on track to close permanently in the Fall of 2018, keeping a promise to District residents to shutter the aging and institutional shelter forever and to provide dignified short-term housing to families experiencing the crisis of homelessness. With family homelessness down 40 percent since 2016, the Bowser Administration continues its ask landlords to partner with the District to ensure that every family who needs shelter has a safe and affordable apartment to call home as they transition to housing.
in May, the Department of Human Services (DHS) stopped making new placements at the DC General Family Shelter. At full capacity, DC General provided shelter to 260 families. Today, only 88 families remain at the shelter, and there are still opportunities for landlords to help these families find new their home.
Partnerships with local landlords are critical to achieving the goals of Homeward DC, Mayor Bowser’s strategic plan to end homelessness in the District. The tenant screening criteria used by many landlords represents a challenge to identifying suitable options for families and individuals experiencing homelessness. These criteria will often disqualify potential tenants as a result of poor credit scores and/or past evictions.
To combat these challenges, Mayor Bowser announced the implementation of a Landlord Partnership Fund in October 2017. The Landlord Partnership Fund offers protections to private sector landlords to encourage them to relax their screening criteria. The protections include a right to collect from the Fund to cover unpaid rent, damages to the rental unit, and other lease charges incurred by landlords of tenants, whose rent is subsidized by a DHS homeless services intervention, such as the Rapid Rehousing or Permanent Supportive Housing programs.
The Fund received a planning grant from JPMorgan Chase and was developed by the DowntownDC Business Improvement District (BID) and the Coalition for Non Profit Housing and Economic Development (CNHED), in partnership with DHS. The Fund is operated by CNHED.
The closing of DC General marks an important step forward in the Bowser Administration’s plan to replace this outdated and costly-to-maintain facility with safe, dignified, and service-enriched short-term family housing programs across the District. In addition to the Ward 4 program, two additional short-term family housing programs – in Wards 7 and 8 – will also open this fall. Ribbon-cutting celebrations for these sites will be announced in the coming weeks. These short-term family housing programs join the Patricia Handy Place for Women, a low-barrier shelter for women in Ward 2, that began providing services to District women in need of a safe place to stay in early 2016.
The plan to close and replace DC General is just one part of Mayor Bowser’s bold vision to make homelessness rare, brief and nonrecurring. As a result of the Homeward DC plan, the District has reduced overall homelessness by more than 17 percent in two years, and has reduced family homelessness by 40 percent over the same time. In addition to making unprecedented investments in affordable housing opportunities, the Administration launched a Homelessness Prevention Program which has successfully prevented a shelter stay for more than 5,700 families; increased investments in permanent housing programs by nearly 60 percent; expanded year-round access to provide immediate shelter for families in need regardless of the weather; and connected 3,900 single adults to permanent housing, including 1,700 veterans.