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Mayor Bowser Announces Major Milestone in District’s Plan to End Homelessness

Thursday, August 13, 2020
The District Ends Use of Local Hotels As Emergency Shelter for Families Experiencing Homelessness

(Washington, DC) – Mayor Muriel Bowser announced that this month, the District will end its use of the Days Inn, the last local hotel being used as overflow emergency shelter, and completely phase out the use of local hotels to house District families in need of emergency shelter. This transition marks a major milestone in Homeward DC – the District’s strategic plan to end homelessness.

“Four years ago, we launched a plan that represents our DC values. And by sticking with that plan, and with the support of our community partners, we have made tremendous progress towards ending family homelessness and giving all families the support they deserve,” said Mayor Bowser. “What we know from this experience is that when we build citywide solutions to citywide challenges, we can build a fairer, more equitable DC – a DC that provides better opportunities to more families.”

In October 2018, Mayor Bowser delivered on her promise to close the DC General Family Shelter once and for all, as it was too big, too old, and too isolated to serve families. In its place, smaller short-term family housing programs were built across the city, providing neighborhood-based emergency housing with wrap-around services, 24/7 security, and a safe environment. Six of the seven family shelters are now open, with the last site scheduled to open later this year.

With these new shelters open, which provide a more supportive and dignified environment for families to get back on their feet, the District was able to move forward with plans to discontinue using hotels as emergency shelter. In July 2020, the District ended the use of the Quality Inn as an emergency shelter for District families. Families currently residing at the Days Inn continue to be supported with case management, housing search support, and rental assistance to transition into permanent housing. Families unable to lease-up into permanent housing will be provided a placement in a short-term family housing program or apartment-style shelter.

“This accomplishment is testament to District government, partners and community working together to improve the way we serve families,” said Department of Human Services Director Laura Zeilinger. “As a critical component to a larger system reform, our STFH programs use a family-centered and housing-first approach that provides immediate access to services and supports essential to securing permanent housing. By reducing the amount of time families experience homelessness, we are better equipped to meet the need for temporary housing in settings designed for this purpose.”

Since the launch of Homeward DC in 2016, the District has reduced overall homelessness by more than 11% and has reduced family homelessness by 48.5%. Progress has been made through a three-pronged strategy outlined in the plan, including historic investments in supportive housing, shelter reform, and the work of the Homelessness Prevention Program, which has provided case management and rental assistance for over 7,500 District families before a shelter stay was necessary.