2018 Results Show Bowser Administration Efforts Are Working, Nearly 21 Percent Reduction in Families Experiencing Homelessness
Mayor Muriel Bowser and the DC Department of Human Services (DHS) recently released the results of the 2018 Point-in-Time (PIT) count, the annual census and survey of persons and families experiencing homelessness in the District. This year’s count was conducted on January 24, 2018 and captures the number persons either staying in the shelter system or sleeping on the street. The report, which will be released tomorrow by the Council of Governments, shows that the total number of persons experiencing homelessness in the District decreased by 7.6 percent from 2017 and 17.3 percent from 2016.
“These results validate that our approach is working,” said Mayor Bowser. “We’ve come a long way, especially with ending family homelessness, but we have more work to do. Today, the District is much better prepared than we were three years ago to make homelessness rare, brief, and nonrecurring.”
Family homelessness decreased by 20.8 percent since last year and by nearly 40 percent since the 2016 PIT count. While the number of individuals experiencing homelessness increased by 5.2 percent between 2017 and 2018, there was a net decrease in the percentage of unsheltered individuals, meaning more individuals were in a shelter program the night of the count.
“We know what it takes to make homelessness rare, brief and non-recurring, and the investments and reforms we have made over the past three years are producing meaningful outcomes for families,” said DHS Director Laura Zeilinger. “The Mayor’s FY19 budget makes the investments needed to continue our progress with an increased prioritization of unaccompanied adults.”
In 2015, Mayor Bowser and her Interagency Council on Homelessness (ICH) released Homeward DC, a five-year strategic plan to reform the District’s homeless services system. This multi-pronged approach scales solutions to end homelessness such as year-round access to shelter, a robust homeless prevention program, increased capacity of the homeless system to quickly connect families with housing opportunities, and expanded services for youth experiencing homelessness.
The Mayor’s Fiscal Year 2019 (FY19) budget includes $23 million in new and recurring investments in Homeward DC. This is the highest proposed increase to solutions to end homelessness among unaccompanied adults since the first year of implementation in FY16. Anticipating the need for greater resources for individuals, the Mayor’s FY19 budget also includes $40 million for the construction of a new 801 East emergency and temporary housing program for men and $9.5 million to provide permanent support housing and other services to single adults experiencing homelessness.
“The Homeward DC plan is about system transformation, but change at that scale does not happen overnight. The success we are experiencing within our family subsystem demonstrates that we are on the right path,” said Kristy Greenwalt, Executive Director of the District of Columbia Interagency Council on Homelessness. “While there is no single recipe for ending homelessness, we have many lessons learned that will help shape our next steps as we look towards this next phase of plan implementation.”
The Bowser Administration’s plan to end homelessness embraces a housing-first strategy with the underlying goal of permanent housing for all residents. In addition to making unprecedented investments in affordable housing, since taking office, the Administration has launched new homeless prevention services, preventing a shelter stay for more than 5,000 families; increased investments in permanent housing programs by nearly 60 percent; developed interim eligibility to provide immediate shelter for families in urgent need; and connected 3,900 single adults to permanent housing, including 1,700 veterans.
The Point-in-Time count is conducted by The Community Partnership for the Prevention of Homelessness.