(Washington, DC) – Today, Mayor Bowser celebrated with the Smith family, a household of eight, as they signed their lease to secure long-term housing in time for the holidays. This signing, the 217th of this year’s campaign, marks the mid-way point in the Mayor’s annual “A Home for the Holidays” drive, which focuses attention on placing the District’s most vulnerable families and individuals into permanent housing – and calling on the landlord community to work with DC Government to make more affordable housing available.
“We started Home for the Holidays because we want the holiday season to be about spending time with family, friends, and loved ones. We know that when we work together as a community and focus our attention and resources, we are able to move more Washingtonians into housing that allows them to stabilize and get back on their feet,” said Mayor Bowser. “While we work all year round to move families and individuals out of shelter and into permanent housing, this campaign is about doing all we can to ensure that our neighbors are able spend the holidays and start the New Year in a home of their own.”
Mayor Bowser has worked diligently with the Apartment and Office Building Association (AOBA), homeless services providers, landlords, stakeholders, and District community members to find safe and affordable housing for 450 of the District’s most vulnerable households. Last year, through this special holiday campaign, 422 households moved out of homelessness into permanent housing, exceeding the Mayor’s original goal of 400 households.
“Through our efforts, we’re giving families a much needed second chance to grow and prosper in great city,” said DC Department of Human Services Director Laura Zeilinger. “This campaign is helping to connect our neighbors experiencing homelessness to services, resources and stable housing, in addition to, building new partnerships with landlords that will help eliminate chronic homelessness in the District.”
The Home for the Holidays campaign aligns with the Homeward DC plan, Mayor Bowser’s five-year strategic framework for reforming the District’s homeless services system and making homelessness rare, brief, and nonrecurring. With a 40 percent reduction in families experiencing homelessness in the last two years resulting in the prevention of shelter stay for nearly 6,000 families, this campaign has helped maintain this momentum by reminding property owners with available housing units that the District will partner to mitigate rental risks and provide new tenants with wrap-around supports to strengthen their ability to remain in long-term housing.
Mayor Bowser continues to build on this progress and earlier this year, kept her promise to close the DC General Family Shelter – a former hospital serving as the largest emergency shelter in the District, replacing it with three of seven short-term family housing programs in Wards 4, 7 and 8. These dignified, service-enriched programs join the Patricia Handy Place for Women, a low-barrier shelter for women in Ward 2, which began providing services to District women in need of a safe place to stay in early 2016. Programs in Wards 3, 5 and 6 will open in 2019.
To help reach the campaign placement goal of 450 households, Mayor Bowser is asking landlords to provide available and affordable units. Landlords interested in learning more about partnering with the District should contact [email protected]. Community members may donate new or gently used houseware, clothing and children's toys at the Adams Place Day Center located at 2210 Adams Place, NE – Shelter Side B, Monday through Friday, 7 am to 7 pm.