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Homelessness



In DC there are currently 7,748 persons experiencing homelessness. This is a 13% increase from last year.

Of this, 3,953 are unaccompanied adults and 3,795 are within a family (2,236 of which are children). Family homelessness has increased by 50% in the last four years.

Homelessness can happen to anyone. Each person is unique and their stories attest to that.

From SOME’s viewpoint, the first thing a homeless person needs is to be treated with respect and dignity.

Background

Homelessness is defined by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) as the following:

  • Individuals and families who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence;
  • Individuals and families who will imminently lose their primary nighttime residence;
  • Unaccompanied youth [under age 25] and families with children and youth who are defined as homeless under certain other federal statutes who do not otherwise qualify as homeless under this group of four definitions; and
  • Individuals and families who are fleeing, or attempting to flee, domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, or other dangerous or life-threatening conditions that relate to violence against the individual or a family member.

People can become homeless for many reasons, some of which are due to a systemic issue out of the individual’s control. For example, affordable housing is the one of the leading causes of homelessness. In only a decade (2000-2010), the number of units renting at less than $750 per month fell nearly in half. Now, for a person on minimum wage to afford a one bedroom apartment at the fair market rate, they’d have to work at least 97 hours per week.

According to the latest Point-in-Time Count of Homeless Persons, the two most prevalent subpopulations of homeless individuals were formerly institutionalized/incarcerated individuals and individuals with a debilitating illness. Additionally, unaccompanied homeless adults had the following characteristics:

  • 45% were Chronically Homeless
  • 21.6% reported that they were employed
  • 18.3% had a physical disability

  • 12.6% had a Severe Mental Illness
  • 12.0% reported substance abuse
  • 7.2% had limited English proficiency

Call to Action

SOME and our community partners advocate for funding that will prevent and end homelessness by increasing:

  • The availability of affordable housing for very low-income individuals and families.
  • Mental health services available to low-income residents.
  • Cash assistance provided under the TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) program and IDA (Interim disability Assistance) program

We also collaborate to improve protections and services for homeless people, including:

  • Procedures to ensure that homeless residents have shelter on extremely hot and cold days.
  • Discharge planning protocols for public institutions like hospitals and prisons.

Please help us by joining our Advocacy Network!