(Washington, DC) – Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser and Department of Human Services (DHS) Director Laura Zeilinger announced Home for the Holidays, a citywide campaign to place 400 of the District’s most vulnerable households into permanent housing during the holiday season. The Mayor made the announcement at a lease-agreement signing between landlord and tenant, standing alongside a District resident as she signed the lease for her family’s new home.
“As we continue implementing Homeward DC and making unprecedented investments in the creation and preservation of affordable housing, we know that there is even more we can do as a community to get residents into permanent housing,” said Mayor Bowser. “Through this campaign, we are calling on landlords across the city to work with us to get families in DC home for the holidays. We have the right resources in place to find permanent homes for our most vulnerable households, but now we need available, affordable units.”
DHS kicked off a soft launch of the campaign on Wednesday, November 15 through social media and landlord outreach. Since DHS began outreach for the Home for the Holidays campaign, they have been able to match 71 tenants with landlords. Today’s event with Mayor Bowser had her witnessing the 72nd such signing. As they do year-round, DHS is working with landlords, stakeholders, and the community to identify safe, stable, and affordable homes for families and individuals exiting homelessness. The campaign will conclude January 15, 2018.
“We are so excited about this effort because every resident of the District deserves a place to call home. During this holiday season, we are sounding the alarm for our landlords and our good neighbors to help make this happen for as many households as possible,” said DHS Director Laura Zeilinger.
In addition to calling on landlords to work with the city to provide more affordable units, the Administration is also asking residents to donate housewares and other items to help families and individuals exiting homelessness transform their new housing into a home. Donations of new or gently used kitchenware, toys, housewares, and professional clothing will be collected from the community and disseminated throughout the campaign. Residents can drop off donations at the Adams Place Day Center (2210 Adams Place, NE) or email [email protected] for more information.
The Home for the Holidays campaign aligns with Homeward DC, Mayor Bowser’s five-year strategic plan for reforming the District’s homeless services system and making homelessness rare, brief, and nonrecurring. Over the summer, the Mayor broke ground on a short-term family housing building, marking a monumental step forward in the Administration’s effort to close and replace the DC General Family Shelter with dignified, service-enriched programs across all eight wards – a cornerstone of the Homeward DC plan. Additionally, in October 2017, Mayor Bowser announced the implementation of a Landlord Partnership Fund. The Landlord Partnership Fund will cover certain costs 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. In return, landlords are expected to relax screening criteria for people experiencing certain barriers like poor credit and past evictions that have prevented them from securing housing on their own.
Between 2016 and 2017, after the first full year of implementing Homeward DC, Washington, DC saw a 10.5 percent reduction in overall homelessness, a 22 percent reduction in homelessness among families, a 15 percent reduction among veterans experiencing homelessness, and a 3 percent reduction among individuals experiencing homelessness.