2015 was certainly a year to be proud of! Through your advocacy and hard work, DC passed an historic budget that put us on track to end chronic homelessness by 2017. DC has also housed 85% of our veterans, a remarkable step in ending chronic homelessness. As this year comes to a close, we want to thank you for being a part of The Way Home Campaign. Please read on to see how you helped to move DC closer to ending chronic homelessness over the past year.
An Historic Budget
Because of your work to influence the Mayoral debate and your participation in lobby days, marathon call-in sessions, letters, tweets and emails, DC made investments that will help end homelessness for 1,200 individuals and 550 families - a huge step towards ending chronic homelessness by 2017!
Specifically, these investments will end homelessness for:
- 455 individuals through Rapid Re-housing
- 365 individuals through additional Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH)
- 338 individuals through Targeted Affordable Housing; and
- Will serve up to 100 residents daily through the new daytime services center for individuals.
It is sometimes easy to get bogged down in numbers and policies. This morning, I had a chance to sit down with Mr. Victor Cunningham, a guest of Miriam's Kitchen and a fierce advocate and supporter of The Way Home Campaign who, after 4 years on the streets, has just moved into his own apartment. Below are a few highlights from our conversation.
- "This year is so great. I get to be in my own domain with a key. I can get up and go to the bathroom when I want, go into the kitchen to get a snack when I want, and not have to worry about anybody taking my sleeping place. I feel relieved, I feel so great. A big weight has been lifted off my shoulders and I can walk with my head held with and my keys in my pocket."
- "Last year at this time my hopes were to get into Adam's Place shelter on time to get a bed and to get housing. It was nerve racking. This year my goals are to get a job, pay rent, pay bills, and live the way normal people live. I want to live life on my own terms. On New Years I am going so stay up all night cleaning my new apartment. I feel like a shiny new penny on the inside. Last year, I didn’t want to face New Years, I didn’t have a home to go to, I didn’t have a key or a bed. This year, I’m looking forward to New Years in my new place."
Ending veterans homelessness
DC is making huge strides towards ending veterans homelessness. The Way Home Campaign knows that ending veterans homelessness proves that ending chronic homelessness is possible. For the past several months, we have updated our elected officials of this progress through frequent office visits with our veterans buckets. The Way Home Campaign produced a report entitled “What Does it Take to End Veteran Homelessness“ with CEB and invited elected officials to attend a briefing about the resources used to end veterans homelessness and the resources still needed to end chronic homelessness. We know that this work is changing the lives of our neighbors on the streets, lives like Miriam’s Kitchen guest Tony, who was featured on ABC’s “This Week.”To listen to Tony’s story, please click here.
Homeless Memorial Vigil
Sadly, at least 41 individuals from the homeless community in DC died in 2015.The Way Home Campaign supported our partner organization, The People for Fairness Coalition, in their third annual homeless memorial event. The People for Fairness coalition is a group of homeless and formerly homeless individuals who are passionate advocates and activists working to end chronic homelessness in the District. We were proud to stand with the People for Fairness Coalition and participate in several powerful actions aimed at ensuring nobody else dies on the streets of DC. To learn more about the vigil, read these stories from the Washington Post and WTOP.
The Way Home Campaign is certainly a powerful force to be reckoned with. With a base of nearly 4,000 supporters and the backing of 85 partner organizations, we are confident that with your continued help, we can end chronic homelessness in DC. Your turnout to events such as Homelessness 101, our panel discussion on ending veterans homelessness, lobby visits and the Homeless Memorial Vigil show elected officials just how many supporters we have.
Best wishes for a 2016 full of continued action and advocacy to end chronic homelessness in DC.