Families in rapid rehousing still unsure of their future in the program
Some families who were notified last month that their rapid rehousing subsidies will be terminated by Oct. 31 still have not received a correction letter from the Department of Human Services (DHS). According to DHS, approximately 20 families were sent notices dated Aug. 17 informing them of their impending termination from the program. The notices contradicted an earlier Aug. 12 assertion by DHS Director Laura Zeilinger stating that all families staying in rapid rehousing — including the more than 1,000 that stayed beyond their initial end date due to the pandemic and associated eviction moratorium — will receive a six-month notice prior to having their housing subsidy cut off.
According to a spokesperson for the department, new notices were sent out at the beginning of September to all who received the incorrect termination date. However, only one of the families in contact with Street Sense Media and The DC Line has received an updated letter so far.
Another, Megan Smith, received a Sept. 14 email notice from her landlord informing her that they have been notified her subsidy will in fact end on Oct. 31. Her landlord said they are tracking her STAY D.C. application to cover rent through the end of the year. Smith, a single mother, said her case manager told her there are no extensions for families in rapid re-housing, but said she would help Smith try and obtain another long-term voucher.
During a Sept. 2 briefing on the ongoing health crisis that DHS held for its community partners, an attendee asked Zeilinger for more information confirming the six-month extension for subsidy recipients whose time was already up. Instead, a DHS staff member said the department was working on a plan to “hopefully” give rapid rehousing participants “about 6 months” of time to figure out what to do next. When asked if this answer meant families should still expect to receive a six-month extension, a DHS spokesperson said in a Sept. 3 email that it did.
DHS will be holding a private Customer Advisory Group meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 15, from 3 to 4:30 p.m. to discuss plans for a town hall event to advise families in rapid rehousing about the future of the program.