Action Center
D.C. Council increases resources to end chronic homelessness
June 1, 2017 by Lara Pukatch

On Tuesday, the D.C. Council approved a budget that will end chronic homelessness for 458 individuals through Permanent Supportive Housing and Targeted Affordable Housing.

As a supporter of The Way Home Campaign, you helped make this possible! THANK YOU for all you have done over the past year to raise your voice in support of ending chronic homelessness in Washington. Together, we have shown up, stood up, rallied, testified, and lobbied our elected officials to tell them that no one in our city should be denied the dignity of a home.

We couldn’t have done it without you!

While we are ecstatic that DC’s FY18 budget increases resources to end homelessness, and expand affordable housing, we know that much more is needed to accelerate progress towards the commitments outlined in Homeward DC, the city’s strategic plan to make homelessness rare, brief, and nonrecurring.

For a detailed breakdown of the Council’s FY18 budget, please see below.

FY18 budget expands PSH and TAH, but still under invests in ending chronic homelessness

The D.C. Council’s budget maintains the Mayor’s proposed 262 units to end chronic homelessness for individuals through Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) and Targeted Affordable Housing (TAH) and expands each program, providing housing for an additional 196 DC residents. Altogether, the Council budget will end chronic homelessness for 458 individuals over fiscal year 2018.

Time and again, we have reminded our elected officials that every dollar counts. So, we are thrilled that the FY18 budget includes funding to end homelessness for 458 of our neighbors. However, we know that substantially more investments are needed to make significant progress towards ending chronic homelessness over the next fiscal year. As the recently released Point in Time Census shows, 1,470 individuals in the District are experiencing chronic homelessness. Like all DC residents, these individuals deserve safe, affordable homes. Moreover, for this population, housing is healthcare. Proven solutions like Permanent Supportive Housing quite literally save lives.

Permanent Supportive Housing:

Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) is a proven solution for chronic homelessness. By coupling services with permanent housing, PSH enables individuals who have experienced prolonged homelessness to improve their health and well-being from the safety and dignity of a home.

The FY18 budget allocates a total of approximately $4.49 million for 274 units of PSH for individuals. While this is great progress, this amount meets only about half of the estimated need for PSH over the next fiscal year.  The FY18 budget also  includes resources to provide PSH for 154 families.

Targeted Affordable Housing:

Targeted Affordable Housing (TAH) is designed to meet the needs of individuals and families who are experiencing chronic homelessness, but who either no longer need the services offered by PSH or need longer term assistance than Rapid Re-housing offers. The FY18 budget includes an additional $1.02 million over the Mayor's proposed amount, bringing the total to 184 units of TAH for individuals. This amount represents about 22% of the current need and 43% of The Way Home Campaign’s recommended funding level. The FY18 budget also includes funding to end homelessness for 186 families with children through TAH.

Rapid Rehousing:

The FY18 budget includes no new funding for DC’s Rapid Rehousing (RRH) program for individuals, which provides short-term rental assistance, housing search assistance and services for people experiencing chronic homelessness. The Way Home Campaign had recommended expanding the program by 343 units in fiscal year 2018. While this program has room for improvement, we believe this is a missed opportunity to accelerate DC’s progress towards ending chronic homelessness.

FY18 Local funding for housing to end chronic homelessness (Comparison of need vs. TWHC asks)

 Total NeedTWHC AsksMayor's BudgetCouncil BudgetTOTAL
PSH535 units$8.5m (535 units)$2.7m (162 units)$1.79m (112 units)$4.3m (274 units)
TAH849 units$5.2m (425 units)$1.3m (100 units)$1.02m (84 units)$2.32m (184 units)
RRH1144 units$3.7m (343 units)$0 (0 units)$0 (0 units)$0 (0 units)
TOTAL2528 units$17.4m (1303 units)$3.7m (262)$2.81m (196 units)$6.5m (458 units)

In addition, the Council's budget also includes a $500,000 for D.C.'s Homelessness Prevention Program (HPP) and $4 million to implement the new plan to end homelessness for D.C.'s youth.

Funding for Birth Certificates for individuals experiencing homelessness

The FY18 budget includes $60,000 to cover the cost of birth certificates for individuals experiencing homelessness. This is an important step towards reducing one of the many barriers faced by individuals in search of housing.

Affordable Housing

Expanding affordable housing in the District is critical to ending chronic homelessness. As such, we are happy to see several investments in affordable housing in the FY18 budget. Although, D.C. will need to significantly scale up such investments in the coming years to address an affordable housing crisis that is getting worse.

  • Housing Production Trust Fund (HPTF) – The D.C. Council maintained the Mayor’s proposed investment of $100 million for the Housing Production Trust fund, which will facilitate the renovation or creation of approximately 1,000 affordable homes.
  • Local Rent Supplement Program (LRSP) – The FY18 budget includes $3.4 million in rental assistance for individuals and families with extremely low incomes. However, the budget does not include any funding for tenant vouchers, thereby making no progress towards assisting families on DC’s affordable housing waitlist.

In addition, the FY 2018 budget includes $10 million for the preservation of affordable housing and $19 million to repair public housing units.

Fair Criminal Records Screening in Housing Act Funding

The Council’s FY18 budget includes $470,000 to implement the recently passed Fair Criminal Records Screening in Housing Act, which will address housing discrimination against individuals with criminal backgrounds – a critical step towards ensuring that all DC residents, can quickly find and secure the housing they deserve.

Council opposes amendments to prioritize urgent needs over tax cuts for the wealthy

During the Council budget vote, Council Member Grosso proposed two amendments to delay tax cuts for wealthy estates and big businesses so that the resources could be reallocated to address the urgent needs of DC residents such as housing and education. We were thrilled to see Council Member Grosso champion this effort and are thankful to Council Members Silverman and Nadeau, who voted in support of both amendments, and Council Member Trayon White who supported the estate tax cut amendment. However, we were extremely disappointed that more members of the Council chose to support tax cuts for the wealthy over further investing in DC residents in need.

What’s Next?

The Council will conduct a second vote on their budget on June 13th. While it is not customary for the Council to make significant changes to the budget between the two votes, it is not impossible. But, that doesn’t mean our work is done! Together, we will still need to work diligently to ensure that these life-saving resources are implemented quickly and according to best practices so that they will truly end chronic homelessness for our neighbors. Thank you again for your support in this work and please stay tuned for what’s next!

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