Testimony of Polly Donaldson, Executive Director, Transitional Housing Corporation and THC Affordable Housing, Inc., at a Human Services Roundtable on PR20-65, Sense of the Council for Ending Chronic Homelessness Resolution of 2014
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 continuum of transitional, rapid rehousing and 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 speak in support of Sense of the Council for Ending Chronic Homelessness Resolution of 2014 and would like to emphasize three points:
1) THC believes Permanent Supportive Housing is a key component of the District’s strategic plan to end homelessness.
Currently THC provides 94 families with permanent supportive housing and comprehensive supportive services. The families have a host of health, mental health, substance abuse and other disabilities and yet the housing stability of these families is at 100%, which means 100% of the families have stayed housed and not returned to the homeless shelter system. Permanent supportive housing works to help our most vulnerable families and individuals who are chronically homeless have safe and secure housing.
2) The DC Interagency Council on Homelessness’s Permanent Supportive Housing Production Committee has a clear and solid plan and set of goals to provide sufficient PSH for the chronically homeless.
The Committee, of which I am the co-chair with DHCD Director Michael Kelly, has set of annual goals to produce by preservation, construction and leasing the amount of permanent supportive housing needed by our city by 2020. These 2,679 units will end chronic homelessness as we know it in DC. A continued commitment of resources to achieving this plan, both through the housing production resources as well as the housing and services resources at the Department of Human Services, is essential.
3) THC believes strongly that permanent supportive housing, while critically important, is not sufficient to end overall homelessness in the District.
It represents a small but key slice of the resources needed. Housing across the continuum – from emergency shelter for 30 days or less, temporary housing like short term transitional, and, most important, permanent housing solutions such as rapid rehousing and the development of permanent affordable housing – must be addressed with equal importance and supported with sufficient budget resources.
I look forward to working with you and the Council and the Administration to implement an across the board strategic plan to end homelessness in the District of Columbia and urge the passage of this resolution. And I am happy to answer any questions you may have.