Testimony of Polly Donaldson, Executive Director of THC and THCAH at a Public Oversight Roundtable on Shelter Provisions for Homeless Families during the 2013-14 Hypothermia Season


Good morning. Thank you Chairman Graham for convening this hearing and inviting our testimony. I am Polly Donaldson, a resident of Mt. Pleasant in Ward 1 and Executive Director of Transitional Housing Corporation (THC) and I also serve on the District’s Interagency Council on Homelessness. Currently, THC provides housing and services across the housing and services continuum of transitional, rapid rehousing and Windows 7 Enterprise SP1 Key Code
other permanent housing for over 500 homeless, at risk and low income families in the District. And, this year, we are building an additional 36 units of affordable housing in Ward 7, 1/3 of which will be site-based permanent supportive housing. I want to emphasize two essential points today in my testimony:

1) The District is facing an unprecedented disaster in its family homelessness system. The huge surge of new families coming into the system

this winter has filled the shelters and the DC motels that have sheltered families awaiting placement in the past. We are now turning to converting DC Recreation Centers into emergency space Like many who have spoken, I know that our city must respond and will respond. One group I know well are members of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, which held its annual convention this weekend, including our Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde and members you may know from St. Margaret’s and St. Stephens Windows 7 Enterprise Key Code and the Incarnation in your ward. Many concerned members stepped forward to respond to this disaster, wanting to help in any way—for the very short term this month in providing overflow space and support as shelter, and in support of a swift, collaborative, unified public/private effort to return all the families—adults and children—to permanent housing as soon as possible, starting now. And I know the support for this kind of unified effort will be solid across our city, if we act together and in the spirit of finding real solutions and changing how our family homelessness system works over the short, medium and long term.

2) THC stands in support of, of the Plan for Family Shelter Crisis in 2014 (attached), developed through collaboration with the Dept of Human Services, the Community Partnership for the Prevention of Homelessness, family service providers like Community of Hope and THC and advocates from the DC Fiscal Policy Institute and the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless. We believe the goals stated for the family system are clear and more comprehensive and provide a guide for the allocation of the significant resources the District commits to ending family homelessness, including use of TANF, ERAP Prevention, Rapid Rehousing and Permanent Supportive Housing resources. We know a unified assessment process (F-SPDAT) assures the appropriate level of resources and services to meet the specific needs of families in crisis.

We are ready to participate in implementation of the following:

1. Identify affordable apartments in a more timely manner for families experiencing homelessness.

2. Make funds available to assist families in exiting homelessness, including prevention, one-time assistance, rapid rehousing, and PSH.

3. Build infrastructure to implement system change.

Steering Committee: The plan calls for a steering committee of government representatives, providers, and advocates under the aegis of the Interagency Council on Homelessness’ Operations and Logistics Committee to meet weekly to work creatively to identify units, build capacity in the system and with providers to support families, and assist families to move out of shelter and motels within 60 days. We need to track the number of exits monthly and learn from what is working and what the barriers are.

Medium and Long Term: THC also supports the key medium and long term supports, including more comprehensive prevention and diversion as well as ensuring there are resources available year-round, including shelter, so that we do not have a system that is consistently helping District families, not dependent on the weather. Funds should be reallocated in the District’s homeless budgets (including local and federal dollars) and shifted to permanent housing solutions and prevention, which will help families in motels and DC General Shelter to exit quickly, while preventing other families from becoming homeless. Longer term, the District will also need to address and make progress on bigger, long-term challenges of sustained affordable housing production, job training, education—using known successful resources such as the Local Rent Supplement Program and the Housing Production Trust Fund.

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