The Greater Washington Community Foundation’s Sharing DC Fund has announced $160,000 in new investments in eight nonprofits working to address homelessness in DC. Sharing DC will award grants toward two separate funding priorities: offering flexible funding to programs that help people with costs related to obtaining and moving into permanent housing and providing support for youth homelessness prevention and intervention programs.
Sharing DC, established in 2013, is dedicated to improving the quality of life for the District of Columbia’s most vulnerable residents. Stewarded by an Advisory Committee of donors, in collaboration with The Community Foundation’s staff, Sharing DC gives donors the opportunity to learn first-hand about the challenges facing our community and identify nonprofits working to make a difference in the lives of children and families. The focus area is determined annually by the Sharing DC Advisory Committee.
Advisory Committee Chair, Laura Stone, explained the collaborative process that resulted in these grants: "This year, the Committee chose to focus on homelessness prevention and intervention in alignment with The Community Foundation’s broader impact initiative strategy for DC. As part of the planning process for a forthcoming partnership between The Community Foundation and The District of Columbia Interagency Council on Homelessness (ICH), these funding priorities were identified as two areas where private philanthropy can augment the District Government's homelessness service delivery. Sharing DC released an RFP focused on these areas and conducted a thorough and collaborative grant review process. We are proud of our list of grantees."
Kristy Greenwalt, Director, DC Interagency Council on Homelessness, Executive Office of the Mayor, shared, “We are so excited to be working in partnership with the Greater Washington Community Foundation. We all have a role to play in ending homelessness — it is not something one agency, or even one sector, can do alone. Our efforts must be strategically aligned to have maximum impact, which is why we are so excited The Community Foundation is piloting this grants program which supports implementation of the District’s Homeward DC and Solid Foundations DC plans.”
Addressing Youth Homelessness in DC
Youth experiencing homelessness are particularly vulnerable to harm and exploitation. The trauma and instability that results from homelessness can impact a young person’s development and have long-lasting effects on their well-being.
Sharing DC’s youth homelessness program grant recipients include: the Latin American Youth Center, Sexual Minority Youth Assistance League (SMYAL), Casa Ruby, and Sasha Bruce Youthwork. Funding will support street outreach, drop-in centers, hotline, prevention and stabilization services, emergency shelter, transitional housing, and permanent housing solutions.
Lupi Quinteros-Grady, President and CEO at Latin American Youth Center, noted, “With support from Sharing DC, LAYC’s bilingual, culturally competent staff will provide 400 runaway and homeless youth in DC with comprehensive services, including emergency care and supplies, crisis intervention, coordinated entry assessment, referrals to housing and other supports, case management, family intervention, and aftercare support.”
Sasha Bruce staff and clients at its emergency youth shelter, the Sasha Bruce House.
In DC, 17% of homeless youth self-identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or questioning, while 7% self-identify as transgender. With this in mind, Sharing DC chose to invest in SMYAL and Casa Ruby, two of the District’s premier LGBTQ-led service providers. Ruby Corado, Executive Director at Casa Ruby, shared, “Casa Ruby is really happy and in need of the grant received from The Community Foundation. Our LGBTQ Respite Center and Housing Program will greatly benefit from the ability to purchase the most comfortable bedding we can provide our youth." SMYAL’s Executive Director Sultan Shakir expressed that they are “incredibly grateful to Sharing DC for partnering with us to change the lives of homeless LGBTQ youth. We know our youth face a number of challenges, and we’re working together to ensure young people can overcome whatever gets put in their way.”
District government dollars cover the large, recurring costs of helping residents obtain and maintain housing, however, there are small expenses associated with helping clients return to stable housing that aren’t covered by existing federal and local government housing assistance programs.
Sharing DC’s flexible funding program grant recipients include: Pathways to Housing, Community of Hope, Friendship Place, and Miriam’s Kitchen. These grants will allow providers to help single adults, families, and youth move to permanent housing by funding key needs which often present barriers to exiting homelessness. Funding will help with small costs related to obtaining and moving into permanent housing that are not otherwise covered by government funding sources — such as security deposits, rental application fees, transportation to see rental units, moving costs and household furnishings.
Catherine Mitchell, Director of Neighbors First Families at Friendship Place, noted that "This grant fills in a gap in DC's funding for our permanent supportive housing program for formerly homeless families. Some of our families are living in unsafe conditions, and now we will be able cover their costs to relocate to safer and more stable housing, where they can move ahead toward goals for recovery, health, wellness, financial stability and educational and career advancement."
The Community Foundation is excited by these investments and the opportunity to mobilize private funding to help expand services for people experiencing homelessness. If you are a funder or donor interested in learning more about our work to end homelessness in DC, or would like to learn about how to become engaged in Sharing DC, learn more on our website.