Mayor Bowser and Greater Washington Community Foundation Launch Public-Private Partnership to End Homelessness in DC

Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser along with her Interagency Council on Homelessness (ICH) and the Greater Washington Community Foundation announced the launch of the Partnership to End Homelessness. This first-of-its-kind initiative in the District aims to galvanize private sector engagement and unite the public and private sectors around a shared strategy to address homelessness and housing insecurity in the nation’s capital.

The Partnership will advance effective and innovative solutions to help our most marginalized and economically disadvantaged neighbors (0-60% Area Median Income) and ensure that homelessness is rare, brief and non-recurring in DC.

On any given night, more than 6,500 individuals, youth and families experience homelessness, including more than 1,500 children. This is due in large part to rising housing costs that outpace local incomes and a shortage of affordable housing, which are preventing many people from participating in the region’s economic growth. In DC, a person earning minimum wage would have to work nearly three full-time jobs to afford an apartment suitable for a family, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

The Partnership aims to increase the availability of philanthropic and private capital to expand the capacity of nonprofit housing developers and supportive service providers to help more of our neighbors transition from the streets or emergency shelters into permanent homes. It will also offer an impact investment option to reduce housing insecurity by financing the development of deeply affordable and supportive housing.

“We know that ending homelessness is possible, but that it is going to take all of us from the public and private sectors working together across all eight wards,” said Mayor Bowser. “Through our Homeward DC plan, we are implementing evidence-based solutions and transforming our homeless services system. And while there is more work to do, we are on the right track—family homelessness has decreased by nearly 45 percent and the number of people experiencing chronic homelessness in the District is lower today than it has been in the last 15 years. The time to double-down on and accelerate our progress is now, and that is why we are so grateful to be partnering with the Greater Washington Community Foundation on these critical efforts to end homelessness in Washington, DC.”

“Homelessness and housing insecurity have not always existed the way they do today. We believe that homelessness is solvable, and we also believe that our community is stronger when we bring everyone along,” said Bruce McNamer, President and CEO of the Greater Washington Community Foundation. “Over the last four years, we have witnessed that our community has the political will, leadership and expertise to move the needle on homelessness. The Bowser Administration has established a strong foundation, but private sector engagement will be critical to long-term success. We cannot afford to waste this moment—we must act now and capitalize on the city’s momentum. Together, we can ensure that every one of our neighbors has a safe, stable and affordable place to call home.”

The Partnership will work to:

  • Increase the supply of deeply affordable and supportive housing;

  • Expand nonprofit capacity to help our neighbors exit homelessness;

  • Shift public perceptions of homelessness through education, community mobilization and advocacy efforts; and

  • Coordinate cross-sector participation to complement government funding and programming.

The Partnership’s Investment Vehicles

The first phase of the Partnership will utilize two different funding vehicles.

Impact Investing

The Community Foundation will seed $5 million from its combined investment fund to launch an impact investment option available to its donors and others who join the Partnership.

The Partnership strives to raise $10 million in investments to help Enterprise Community Loan Fund build and preserve housing units for hundreds of people across the region. While fund investments earn a fixed return, they will aid in bringing financial resources to bear in the fight to end homelessness and housing insecurity by increasing the production of deeply affordable and supportive housing.

Impact Note investments provide financing to organizations building and preserving deeply affordable and supportive housing units. Housing providers leverage this investment capital to create more homes for our most marginalized neighbors.

Grantmaking Fund

The Partnership’s Grantmaking Fund will:

  • Enhance the capacity and expand the network of affordable housing developers and supportive service providers in the community;

  • Provide flexible funding to help nonprofits pay for small expenses not covered by federal and local housing programs—such as rental application fees, security deposits and moving expenses—which can create big barriers to stable housing; and

  • Support innovative approaches and advocacy efforts focused on strengthening policies that impact housing and homelessness.

The Partnership’s first competitive grant cycle will open in August 2019. The first round of grants will provide support for nonprofit providers in DC to help people obtain and maintain permanent housing and reduce the amount of time spent in the homeless services system.

Funding the Partnership

The Partnership has raised and committed $6.6 million to date, including $1.6 million for the grantmaking fund.

The A. James & Alice B. Clark Foundation has made the lead investment of $1 million to help launch the Partnership’s Grantmaking Fund. The Clark Foundation’s mission is to expand opportunities for those who demonstrate the drive and determination to better themselves and their communities.

“The Clark Foundation is committed to partnering with regional leaders like The Community Foundation to provide members of the DC community with the best opportunity to thrive,” said Ryan Palmer, Director, DC Community Initiatives for the Foundation. “Stable housing is a critical factor in a person’s path to reaching their full potential. And while homelessness is a significant challenge in our city, it is through collaborating together in partnerships like these that we can make an impact.”

Additionally, The Community Foundation’s longest-serving Trustee, and former Chair of its September 11 Survivors’ Fund, and his wife have donated $100,000 as the inaugural gift to launch the Dan and Karen Mayers’ Challenge. The Mayers issued this challenge to inspire others to help raise $1 million for the Partnership. So far, the Challenge has raised $600,000 from the Mayers’ family, friends and The Community Foundation’s Board of Trustees.

More information about the Partnership can be found at EndHomelessnessDC.org. The Partnership’s website offers resources and a variety of ways for individuals and organizations to get involved in our community’s effort to end homelessness in DC.