Last week, the DC Interagency Council on Homelessness (DCICH) released a Winter Plan on how to address the upcoming hypothermia season. The 2014-2015 Winter Plan answers questions like – Where will people go when the temperatures are low? How will they get there? How do we communicate impending bad weather?
The 2013-2014 winter season marked a stark increase in the number of homeless families seeking shelter. Overall, there has been a 50% increase in family homelessness since 2010. This rise in family homelessness has been primarily attributed to a decline in affordable housing units, high rent, and a minimum wage that doesn’t keep up with the cost of living in DC.
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winter season is looking similarly challenging for homeless families. This year, DCICH predicts that 16% more families (840 total) will be seeking shelter during the winter season. This number is based on trends tracked during the summer, specifically the fact that 26% more families sought support this summer than the year before. DCICH states that there will be a focus on, “enhancing system performance to both decrease the number of entries into the system…and accelerate exits out of shelter.”
Basically, their idea is to prevent families from becoming homeless in the first place (supporting them with case management and housing stabilization assistance) and to increase the number of shelter exits.
actively working to provide housing to as many families as possible on both ends of this goal. On the homelessness prevention end, we provide and are actively creating more affordable housing in DC, effectively helping families maintain housing stability. For families that are homeless THC provides transitional, permanent supportive housing, and rapid rehousing options based on their need. Beyond the work we do with the families we serve, THC is actively administering an assessment program called the F-SPDAT (Family Services Prioritization Decision Assistance Tool) in DC shelters. This tool helps determine which kind of housing is the best fit for each family – it makes the process for housing families more efficient and effective.
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Photo Credit: David Moss