District Accesses Ability to Shelter Families from the Cold
On April 22, the District’s Interagency Council on Homelessness (ICH) evaluated services provided to families during the Fiscal Year 2015 hypothermia season, which was November 1, 2014, to March 31, 2015.
The hypothermia season began with 283 families in Emergency Shelters, down 32 percent from the previous year. During this hypothermia season, nearly 2,000 families applied for services at the Virginia Williams Family Resource Center and over 50 percent of the families were offered a shelter placement.
A total number of 1,290 families were served this hypothermia season. They were placed in D.C. General Family Shelter, the District’s largest emergency family shelter; temporary apartment-style emergency shelters located in Girard Street, Naylor Road, Park Road; and Spring Road Family Shelters.
When capacity at the designated facilities was reached, the District rented motel rooms, some of which were located in Maryland.
The Community Partnership for the Prevention of Homelessness reports that nearly 50 percent of families that made applications for emergency housing during this past hypothermia season have done so more than once–either during the hypothermia season or at some other time.
For many families, homelessness is cyclical. The Homeless Management Information System determined families that applied 1-2 times had an average of 1.7 years between their applications. Families applying 3-4 times had 1.3 years, and applicants who applied five times or more had 1.1 years between applications.
221 families made more than one application during this hypothermia season, with 87 percent applying twice. According to the District’s Department of Human Services (DHS), all applicants received some form of service.
The families served in emergency shelters during the hypothermia season had an average length of stay of 148 days. Some common characteristics of the families were disabilities, larger family size, and barriers that kept them from attaining housing, such as poor criminal or credit histories, according to the ICH.
With emergency shelters coming under fire for safety and health concerns, Mayor Bowser announced a plan to end chronic homelessness, as well as close down D.C. General Family Shelter, opting to replace it with smaller facilities dispersed throughout the city. The DHS has announced that two smaller facilities have been identified as replacements for DC General, providing a total of 84 units. These facilities will begin functioning in Fiscal Year 2016. More facilities will be added on a rolling basis to meet the need for emergency family shelter units.
Mayor Bowser’ budget for FY 2016 allocates funds for affordable housing units, the city’s rapid re-housing program, transitional housing, permanent supportive housing and prevention programs–including a resource center for the District’s homeless.
As of April 22, 2015, there were 50 families remaining in motels, some of which were in Maryland, according to a DHS representative.
The DHS announced their May 4th opening of a Daytime Center located next to the Adam’s Place Shelter that will provide showers, laundry and VI-SPDAT (Vulnerability Index & Service Prioritization Decision Assistance) assessments. It aims to serve 100 people per day.