NATIONALHOMELESS.ORG
Twitter Facebook Facebook Facebook Facebook

Growing Crisis in D.C.

Written by NCH Staff on . Posted in Awareness, Families, Housing, Policy Advocacy, Prevention, Shelter

Growing Crisis Takes Over D.C. – Auburn Trotter, NCH Intern

When I moved to DC to intern with NCH, I knew that I would gain a new perspective on the housing policies in America, but never did I think that the nation’s capitol would be suffering from such a crisis. In January 2014, a Point-in-Time count showed that a total of 7,748 people experienced homelessness  in the District of Columbia. This number increased 12.9%  from the previous year’s count. While cities surrounding the metropolitan area have decreased their homeless populations, the District has not seen much change. In fact, D.C.’s homeless population continues to rise at an alarming rate.

It’s important to first recognize that there are city officials who have fought hard to push forward possible solutions to this issue. It wouldn’t be fair to say that our officials haven’t done anything to try and curb this issue. Legislation has been introduced and passed. Plans to transition families from shelters to permanent homes are being strategized. Our leaders have the will to address the issue but even with these efforts the problem has continued to spiral out of control. So the lingering question becomes, why does homelessness continue to exist at a crisis level in the nation’s capital? The answer is two simple words: affordable housing!

There are many reasons that people find themselves homeless, but the lack of affordable housing remains one of the leading causes. With rents rising all around the city, what are people left to do? Some would say “go live with friends or relatives,” but a majority of the time families do not have room to accommodate others in their living space. So the next natural answer would be to report to the Public Housing Authority (PHA) and seek assistance. Thanks to the 2013 sequester and budget cuts, this has become a dead-end option. With funds being cut by 5%, PHAs across the country encounter difficulties trying to serve those in need. In fact, DC’s housing authority closed its Section 8 voucher wait list, which contained 70,000 people at the time, in April of 2013 and has not re-opened since.

After being told “NO” on several instances, the next and last resort for many people is a shelter. Many of the residents at D.C. General emergency shelter, the area’s largest family shelter, will tell you that they are thankful for the shelter and for having a roof over their heads, but it is not a place where they want to be raising a family. Many have jobs where they work long hours, just to receive a poverty level income. City officials want them to apply for assistance programs where, after their time in the program has ended, they face a rent payment of $900-$1200 depending on the size of the apartment.

Homelessness and increasing rents are serious issues that need an urgent response.  Ultimately, the homeless crisis will continue to get worse unless the city invests in sustainable, affordable housing for its residents. A strong housing policy could significantly reduce the size of our current homeless population and prevent thousands of others from losing their homes. There is no reason that we cannot decrease homelessness in our city. But we must all take action.

National Campaign for Youth Shelter

Written by NCH Staff on . Posted in Advocacy, Awareness, Community Organizing, LGBTQ, Policy Advocacy, Shelter, Youth

National Campaign for Youth Shelter

NCH is proud to work with the Ali Forney Center to launch the National Campaign for Youth Shelter, a collaboration that will build a grassroots campaign to demand a national response to youth homelessness.

 The National Campaign for Youth Shelter calls include the following:

  1. A federal commitment to provide all youths age 24 and under with immediate access to safe shelter, affirming the principle that no young person in the United States should be left homeless in the streets.
  2. An immediate commitment to add 22,000 beds with appropriate services. (This number corresponds to the number of youths identified in the most recent Point In Time Count of homeless persons conducted by the federal government).
  3. A more accurate and comprehensive effort to count the number of homeless youth in the nation in order to determine the number of beds that are needed over the next decade.

The campaign is going to hold rallies in New York City and Washington, DC, to launch the campaign as a priority within the LGBT movement. The New York City rally will be held on June 2. Details to come.

LGBT youth are disproportionately over-represented in the homeless youth population, with as many as 40% of the nation’s homeless youth being LGBT, while only 5% of the overall youth population is LGBT.

Currently, there are only approximately 4,000 youth shelter beds in the United States, yet as many as 500,000 unaccompanied youths experience homelessness each year.

“It’s indefensible that our nation would abide hundreds of thousands of young people to be homeless and on their own,” says Jerry Jones, executive director of the National Coalition for the Homeless. “The National Campaign for Youth Shelter will highlight the urgency of basic emergency shelter as we work toward permanent solutions to this crisis.”

The National Campaign for Youth Shelter has gained the support and endorsement of over 30 organizations, including: GLAADthe Alliance for a Just SocietyCampaign for America’s FutureCampus PrideCenter for Community ChangeCenter for Popular DemocracyCenterLink: The Community of LGBT CentersCoalition on Human NeedsCovenant HouseEmpire State Pride AgendaFamily Acceptance ProjectFamily Equality CouncilGarden State EqualityGay Men’s Health CrisisGLSEN, the Hetrick Martin Institute, Housing Assistance Council, It Gets Better Project, Matthew Shepard Foundation, National AIDS Housing Coalition, National Black Justice Coalition, National Domestic Workers Alliance, National Health Care for the Homeless CouncilNational Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, National Low Income Housing Coalition, NETWORK: A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby, Partnership for Working Families, Rebuild the Dream, the Ruth Ellis Center, Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, Treatment Action Group, USAction, and You Can Play Project.

“It is unprecedented to have so many LGBT organizations join together with prominent national housing and anti-poverty organizations to fight for the humane treatment of impoverished youths.” says Carl Siciliano, executive director of the Ali Forney Center. “With all this support, the National Campaign for Youth Shelter will build a movement to finally prevent youths from being left to suffer homelessness without access to shelter. The wealthiest nation on earth must not allow its youths to be left out in the streets.”

Tweet: The National Campaign for Youth Shelter is fighting for every young person to have access to safe shelter. http://ctt.ec/58RG8+

NATIONALHOMELESS.ORG

National Coalition for the Homeless | 2201 P St NW, Washington, DC 20037 | (202) 462-4822 | info [at] nationalhomeless [dot] org
© 2014 National Coalition for the Homeless | Private Policy
Powered by Warp Theme Framework