By John Kelly, columnist
The Washington Post
December 15, 2016
This surprised me, and it might surprise you: The vast majority of families who enter the District’s shelters — about 90 percent — do not arrive there from their own homes or apartments. They come from a relative’s or a friend’s house.
The homeless family may have been turned out because the host family — so to speak — has financial problems of its own. Or it may be that the head of the host family — a grandmother, say, or an aunt — despairs of the situation ever improving and says enough is enough.
“They may not be welcome there anymore, or it’s gotten overcrowded,” said Jamey Burden, vice president for housing programs and policy at Community of Hope, a nonprofit group that works with poor and homeless families in the District and is a partner in The Washington Post Helping Hand.
Combating homelessness in Washington involves a lot of different tactics, from providing temporary shelter at the troubled D.C. General campus all the way to what’s called permanent supportive housing, a long-term arrangement for those families deemed too broken to ever pay their own rent.
Last year in the District, something new was added to the mix. It’s called the Homelessness Prevention Program. Community of Hope is one of four area organizations involved in the program, which is coordinated by the D.C. Department of Human Services. The basic principle is this: If you have somewhere to stay — anywhere at all — you won’t be ushered into a shelter. Instead, a case manager will try to mediate your current situation.
“It’s a light-touch service that hopefully helps the family with their immediate housing instability crisis but also helps them with their longer housing stability plans,” Jamey said.
Story continued in The Washington Post.