People at risk of experiencing homelessness face many obstacles in search of a stable environment to thrive. Our city has different systems set up to serve families with children who are experiencing homelessness or for individuals without children – and they can both be difficult to navigate.
Demetria, a mom at our newest program called Bridge housing, has faced many barriers in navigating systems while supporting her family. For the safety of herself and her children, she needed to leave her home, but she wanted as few disruptions as possible for her children. Leaning on the care of her family, Demetria made the difficult decision to have her kids stay with them so that the children could avoid the shelter system.
Demetria’s decision to have her children housed with family meant she was unable to access robust resources available in the family system. Fortunately, Community of Hope, in partnership with the DC government, is working to address gaps for individuals experiencing homelessness. Demetria landed at Community of Hope’s new pilot program, The Bridge at Girard Street.
This program’s goal is to be 'the bridge' for individuals experiencing homelessness who have been deemed eligible for a permanent housing subsidy but need someplace safe and stable to stay in the interim to work on getting rental applications and other paperwork together. We hope to make their homelessness experience brief while simultaneously working on other life goals. Community of Hope and DC government case managers coordinate as a team, working to help clients apply for subsidies, work on tenant readiness, and connect to healthcare to address any physical or emotional health needs.
Each person is provided their own bedroom (with a door that locks) and shares common spaces of an apartment such as a full kitchen, living room, and bathroom with one or two others. The program includes dinner and breakfast served on-site, but the living arrangements also allow the residents to cook for themselves. This autonomy is one part of tenant readiness and places the resident in control of their path to stable housing. This approach is distinctly different than other programs for single adults.
Demetria moved into the Bridge program in December 2021, as one of its first residents. In just a few short months, she is in a completely new space—mentally and physically.
With the support of Community of Hope, Demetria found an apartment that is large enough to house her family and she’ll be among the first to move out. She will be moving into her new home on April 1st. This housing support not only provides stability for Demetria, but they now get to live together again under one roof – a mother’s dream renewed. She shares, “I am happy I will get the chance to spend time with my kids and cook for them like I used to.”
Demetria hopes that once she is settled in this new space, she can focus on finding more flexible work to balance being home with her children until they are all school-aged.
To find out how you can help bridge the gap and keep homelessness rare and short for all types of families, visit https://www.communityofhopedc.org/donate/donate-now/