The Way Home Campaign Statement of Need for Fiscal Year 2022

2021-03-11 | , Miriam's Kitchen

The Way Home Campaign Statement of Need for Fiscal Year 2022

The Way Home Campaign calls on Mayor Bowser to invest $96,126,983 to end chronic homelessness for 2,761 individuals and 432 families

The coronavirus pandemic continues to magnify what we’ve long known is true:

1) housing is healthcare
2) housing saves lives; and
3) housing is essential for individual and collective health and wellbeing.

A new study shows that housing for all and eviction moratoriums could have saved 164,000 lives during the COVID-19 pandemic. While these lives and the lives of the more than 74 of our neighbors in DC who died without housing cannot be brought back, they remind us of the urgency to fight for a city where nobody else dies without housing.  

Housing justice is essential for racial justice  
Addressing DC’s homelessness and affordable housing crises is essential for achieving racial justice. Not only because a staggering 86% of individuals experiencing homelessness in the District are Black, but also because this is not a coincidence. It’s the result of centuries of racist policies that have denied entire communities the ability to thrive. Policy choices, like the ones that create and maintain homelessness, require policy solutions and necessitate governments to step up to meet the needs of the many, not just the privileged few.

You can’t stay home without one
Over the past year, DC residents have been instructed to stay home to stay safe from COVID-19. More recently, Washingtonians were told to stay home in the wake of the insurrection and to avoid the inauguration. But staying home is impossible if you don’t have one. Housing is a human right, not a commodity. With 6,500 unhoused neighbors, we must build a city where everybody has the housing they need to thrive. Even before the pandemic, DC led the nation in homelessness per capita. With national research showing that COVID-19 could increase homelessness by 40% (or by over 2,500 people) in DC, now is the time to double down on our shared commitment to end homelessness, not to cut vital programs.

Mayor Bowser can and must end chronic homelessness
Currently, Mayor Bowser is working to write DC’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 budget, which will determine how DC spends $16.9 billion budget, which includes our tax dollars. This budget is an opportunity to end homelessness. DC has the resources, the money, and the know-how to ensure that nobody else lives or dies without housing. With bold and strategic investments in proven solutions, DC can show America that we are no longer content to kick the can down the road. Instead, let’s put our money where our mouth is and step up to actually end homelessness. Our ask of Mayor Bowser is simple: end chronic homelessness.

Mayor Bowser has a crucial choice to make in her upcoming budget: save lives by investing in housing or continue to underinvest in the urgent housing needs of our unhoused neighbors.

This year we are calling on Mayor Bowser to:
* End chronic homelessness for 2,761 individuals and 432 families, costing $96,126,983
* Invest in homeless prevention and street outreach
* Address DC’s low-income housing and eviction crisis by investing in widescale rent and utility relief, the Local Rent Supplement Program (LRSP), Public Housing Repairs, and the Housing Production Trust Fund

So, Mayor Bowser, can we count on you to end chronic homelessness and fight for housing justice?

The Way Home Campaign Demands for Fiscal Year 2022

* End chronic homelessness for 3,193 households: 2,761 individuals and 432 families by investing $96,126,983 in Permanent Supportive Housing.
Currently, there are 2,761 individuals in DC who have experienced homelessness for over a year and are living with severe health issues. Without Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH), these individuals will likely continue to experience homelessness and are those most likely to die without housing. Additionally, there are 432 families who need Permanent Supportive Housing to exit homelessness. As such, we demand that Mayor Bowser end chronic homelessness by funding Permanent Supportive Housing for 2,761 individuals and 432 families.

* Fund programs to prevent homelessness and ensure that DC continues to have a robust, housing-focused outreach team to best leverage these resources.  

In addition to ending chronic homelessness for 2,761 individuals and 432 families, Mayor Bowser must also meet the needs of our neighbors living on the streets and in shelters who may need different levels of support, from short term assistance to the assistance of an outreach worker, to exit homelessness. Beyond meeting the existing needs of this population, Mayor Bowser’s budget must take into account the precipitous increase in homelessness caused by COVID-19. As such, DC’s budget must:

* Fund DC’s robust network of homeless street outreach at least last year’s levels and address other funding gaps as needed.

* Ensure that 1,820 individuals who are experiencing homelessness can obtain housing via short-term assistance, including high-quality, client-centered case management, rental, and other forms of financial assistance and income supports and support with the housing search*,

* Ensure that every person who is at high risk of dying of COVID-19 be offered a placement in a non-congregate shelter, such as the PEPV program, and;

* Expand homelessness prevention and diversion, including Project Reconnect and the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP).

Increase investments in low-income housing and large-scale rent relief
Ensuring that nobody else enters homelessness is a crucial step to ending homelessness. Not only is it cost-effective, more importantly, preventing homelessness whenever possible wards off the trauma of eviction and stays in homeless shelters and streets. Investing in low-income housing is vital to preventing homelessness.  DC has long underinvested in the creation and preservation of low-income housing and this trend must be reversed. To do so, Mayor Bowser must increase investments in:

* The Local Rent Supplement Program (including Targeted Affordable Housing, tenant vouchers, and project/sponsor-based funding),

* The Housing Production Trust Fund and ensure that this money is targeted towards DC’s poorest residents,

* Purchasing or leasing hotels and converting them to humane emergency shelters or deeply affordable housing, and;

* Large scale rent and utility relief and eviction prevention for those impacted by COVID-19 and all DC residents facing eviction.

A “Fair Shot” is only possible if everybody pays their fair share
Mayor Bowser often labels her budget as a Fair Shot. This year, we hope that this commitment is matched with action. A fair shot is only possible when everybody, specifically DC’s wealthiest neighbors and companies, pay their fair share for the collective good. DC has many options to find the money needed to end chronic homelessness, from defunding MPD, increasing taxes, or shifting funding away from non-urgent projects such as the Streetcar. A Fair Shot means that everybody has a chance to thrive, and that must start with housing.

Andrew Anderson, an advocacy fellow at Miriam’s Kitchen and Director of Outreach at the People for Fairness Coalition reminds us that ending homelessness is exceedingly possible. Andrew says, “DC has an opportunity to end homelessness, and this opportunity should not be wasted. If the District can fund the creation of streetcars and millions of dollars on police, we absolutely can invest in housing. Housing is a human right.”

What’s next?

Mayor Bowser releases her budget on April 22nd. Click here for action alerts and stay tuned for ways to ensure that the budget is used to end chronic homelessness and further the cause of housing justice.






*This funding must be well-targeted, preserve client choice, and only end when the client has enough income to sustain housing. In addition, the program should only be funded with one-time funding and recurring funding should be spent on PSH and other forms of long-term deeply affordable housing.