Washington, DC, like every major city across America, faces an affordable housing crisis. Housing plays a critical role in disrupting poverty, providing stability and creating a foundation for success in life. Yet a growing number of DC residents are experiencing housing instability and homelessness as a result of loss of affordable housing stock, major rent increases and low wages. According to the District’s recent Point-in-Time (PIT) Count, approximately 6,900 people at any given point in time are literally homeless—living on the streets or in the city's emergency shelters. Lack of stable housing makes it difficult for people to obtain or maintain employment, address health needs and keep families together.
The Community Foundation, in partnership with the District of Columbia Interagency Council on Homelessness (ICH), is preparing to launch a public-private partnership focused on ending homelessness in the District by ensuring that homelessness is a rare, brief, and non-recurring event. Spurred in part by the District Government’s own plans* to address homelessness, we believe there is an immediate opportunity to align public and private sector resources and strategies to tackle this persistent challenge with renewed vigor and innovative solutions. Leveraging our experience as a convener, funder, community leader and advocate, we will bring together key public and private sector partners as we identify gaps and leverage points in the District’s plan in order to pinpoint how the private sector can make critical investments to accelerate our community’s response.
We seek to:
Make homelessness in the District rare, brief and non-recurring by accelerating the implementation of the District’s strategy;
Support homeless individuals, families, and youth to exit homelessness and obtain stable housing;
Leverage and align public and private philanthropic resources, leading to more strategic and sustained investment in the homeless services system; and
Provide a broad-based platform for continued resource mobilization and coordination.
The Community Foundation is laying the groundwork for the launch of this partnership and currently engaged in the next phase of program design and fundraising planning. As a starting point, we are focused on our most vulnerable neighbors, those who have no or extremely low/very low income (0-50% AMI). Our approach will focus on expanding the supply of supportive housing more quickly and supporting nonprofit provider capacity to serve people exiting homelessness more efficiently and effectively.
The Community Foundation has a long history of making investments to help people meet basic needs for shelter and housing. In 2008, we galvanized the generosity of our community to establish the Neighbors in Need Fund which raised $5 million in aid for neighbors hit hardest by the economic crisis and to support advocacy and systems change. In 2014, we commissioned the study, Housing Security in Greater Washington, the first of its kind to quantify the need for shelter and housing across a range of income levels and inform strategic investments by the private and public sector. Many of our donors have given significantly in this area for the past 40+ years, including millions of dollars for the preservation of affordable housing in the District in addition to housing advocacy and community organizing. And in the past two years, our Fund for Children, Youth and Families has awarded over $2 million for Stable Homes/Stable Families in the region.
We are excited by the opportunity to refresh our commitment in this space and lay the groundwork to launch a new public-private partnership focused on ending homelessness in Washington, DC. If you are a funder or donor and are interested in learning more about our partnership to end homelessness in DC, please join our Partnership to End Homelessness email list.