As swirling leaves begin to give way to snow flurries, it’s important to consider what else will be changing in the District other than the season. What should be the happiest time of year is often the cruelest for those without
housing. Thankfully, DC provides housing to all who need it once the weather drops below freezing. In 1988, after four homeless people died from freezing temperatures, DC enacted its first right-to-shelter law requiring the district to provide shelter to all homeless individuals in life-threatening weather. In 2005, the Homeless Services Reform Act mandated the city to release a plan each fall detailing how it will protect the homeless in the winter. This plan defines hypothermia weather as below 32˚F and outlines the District’s homeless services and strategies during this season.
In recent years, however, the increase in homelessness has not been met with an adequate increase in affordable housing for low income individuals and families. There has been a 50% increase in family homelessness since 2010. The shelter remains fairly full all year round, but during hypothermia season, regardless of how much space is available, the DC government cannot turn people that are homeless away. With the number of spaces being finite, often times this leads the city to place families in motels.
For shelters to handle the increasing number of homeless families, we need to keep families moving out and into housing where they will find enough stability so that they do not return to the shelters. As Latoya Hagins, a THC Assessment Specialist that works within the shelters said, “Families will often stay at DC General (the largest family shelter in DC) for between 6-8 months.” At Transitional Housing Corporation, we are actively working to assess families within the shelter system so they are matched with the right kind of housing and can make a successful transition out of that system. THC accutane illegal also provides a variety of housing types (ranging from short term options like rapid rehousing and transitional or longer term options like accutane banned permanent supportive or affordable housing).
This holiday season, it’s important to remember that you can help. If you see an individual outside during extreme temperatures, call 311 or the Hypothermia/Hyperthermia hotline at 1-800-535-7252. If your family or a family you know is seeking emergency shelter, call the Virginia Williams Family Resource Center at 202-526-0017.
Post by Christine Janumala