A breakout session at the National Conference of Ending Poverty focused on ending homelessness in the Washington metropolitan area and featured speakers from service providers that serve the D.C. community.

Among them was George A. Jones, executive director of Bread for the City. Jones said that when building a cathedral or working to end poverty you should work towards it like you will see it in your lifetime. Jones said that people need to stay engaged and policy makers need to start taking responsibility for people who are on the low end of the spectrum.

Susie Sinclair-Smith is a board member of the Montgomery County Coalition for the Homeless (MCCH) and was also the founding director for the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless. She cited Montgomery County’s 11% reduction in homelessness and told a compelling story of how MCCH helped a client who was living in the woods to live inside. Sinclair-Smith said that MCCH’s mission is to end homelessness by creating communities that serve the needs of those without shelter. Sinclair-Smith said MCCH believes that the system needs to be changed, and that the goal is for people to become stable and remain stable. She pointed out that helping people who have experienced homelessness teaches you that it could be you.

Marian Peele is the senior director of innovation for the Capital Area Food Bank and has served the community for 25 years. Peele pointed out that 50 percent of children in Washington, D.C. live east of the river. Peele said that people want to work, and that often medical conditions play a big part in a household’s ability to maintain or lose housing. Peele said that Capital Area Food Bank is focused on providing the kind of food that supports good health.