Our History

Housing Up was founded in 1990 as Transitional Housing Corporation, after a generous bequest led a group of Christ Lutheran Church volunteers, together with volunteers from Samaritan Ministry of Greater Washington and Community Family Life Services, to decide how to best use the gift to aid those in need in the District. They decided to help families attain safe and stable housing by buying an apartment building on the corner of Georgia Ave and Kennedy St NW. This building served 14 families in transitional housing and was named Partner Arms 1. Since then we have grown to serve more than 500 families in a range of housing programs and buildings across the District. 

In 2016, we rebranded as Housing Up, a name that reflects the full scope of our programs. The name Housing Up aligns with our move away from transitional housing programs and toward permanent affordable housing solutions. The rebrand highlights our status as one of the District’s most innovative and successful nonprofits serving families experiencing homelessness.




Housing Up is founded by volunteers through a partnership of Samaritan Ministry of Greater Washington, Community Life Family Services and Christ Lutheran Church, with support from St. Alban’s Episcopal Church.


Housing Up opens Partner Arms 1 in Ward 4, providing 14 transitional apartment homes for families experiencing homelessness in the District.


Housing Up opens Partner Arms 2 in Ward 4, adding 13 more transitional homes for families.


Housing Up adopts a new strategic direction that expands our work beyond transitional housing. With “housing first” as our driving mission, we take steps to become a developer of permanent, affordable housing for low-income families. Housing Up hires Executive Director Polly Donaldson, initiating an expansion from a small $500,000 nonprofit organization to our current $6.5 million, constituent-centered operation.


Housing Up embarks on its first affordable housing preservation project, Fort View Apartments in Ward 4. 


Housing Up opens Partner Arms 3 to provide transitional housing to 13 families in Ward 7. We also launch the Housing with Care program to provide permanent supportive housing (PSH) at scattered site locations throughout the District.


Housing Up expands its housing options with the rapid re-housing program (RRH). Designed to reduce overcrowding in shelters, RRH helps at-risk and newly homeless families quickly achieve housing stability through financial assistance and case management.

Growing our community reach, Executive Director Polly Donaldson is appointed to the DC Interagency Council on Homelessness. We also purchase Webster Gardens Apartments, our second affordable housing preservation development.


Housing Up opens the newly renovated Fort View and Webster Gardens apartments in Ward 4, providing permanent affordable rental housing to 114 families.

We converted Partner Arms 1 from transitional housing to permanent supportive housing in response to studies showing the effectiveness of permanent supportive housing for chronically homeless families.


Housing Up and Somerset Development Company are awarded Best Large Affordable Housing Development for Fort View and Webster Gardens by the Housing Association of Nonprofit Developers (HAND).

Housing Up and Community of Hope are awarded a joint $1 million grant from the Freddie Mac Foundation to pilot the Service Prioritization Decision Assistance Tool (SPDAT). The SPDAT assessment is used to ensure the right housing and services are provided to the right families. The Department of Human Services adopts the tool for universal use in the District.


Housing Up purchases 3 vacant buildings to transform them into 36 units of affordable housing, including 12 permanent supportive housing units, in the first Passive House retrofit in the country.   


Housing Up celebrates its 25th anniversary and hires Philip H. Hecht as President and CEO.

Housing Up opens Weinberg Commons in Ward 7, adding 36 units of affordable housing including 12 PSH units. Weinberg Commons is the nation’s first multifamily retrofit certified by the U.S. Passive House Institute, adhering to strict energy use standards.


The organization rebrands from Transitional Housing Corporation to Housing Up. Housing Up’s new brand reflects the range of housing options provided to DC’s homeless and low-income families.

Housing Up receives two funding awards from the DC Department of Housing and Community Development: 1) funding for a major renovation to convert our Partner Arms 2 building from transitional housing to permanent supportive housing and 2) as co-developer with Hines/Urban Atlantic for the Abrams Hall Middle building on the Walter Reed campus. The Abrams Hall Middle project will accommodate 80 units of senior housing (including 16 PSH units) as well as Housing Up’s future office space.


Weinberg Commons wins the Affordable Housing category and received an honorable mention in the Multifamily category at the 2017 Passive Projects Competition. The competition was hosted by the Passive House Institute US (PHIUS).

Housing Up launches the Family Success Program to accelerate families’ progress towards independence. The program empowers low-income, formerly homeless families to break the cycle of poverty permanently, through increased access to education, workforce development, and community and supportive services.

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