(WASHINGTON, DC) – Today, Mayor Bowser cut the ribbon on The Kennedy, the short-term family housing program in Ward 4, marking another step forward in delivering on her promise to close and replace DC General Family Shelter with dignified, service-enriched programs across all eight wards. The Kennedy is the first of three short-term family housing programs opening this fall.
“Coming into office, I promised we would close DC General and replace it with programs throughout the District that do a better job of supporting our most vulnerable families. Today, we are making good on that commitment,” said Mayor Bowser. “With this short term family housing program in Ward 4, we will be able to provide families with the shelter and resources they need to get back on their feet and back into permanent housing quickly. By working together, our community can and will make homelessness rare, brief, and nonrecurring.”
At The Kennedy, families will have access to service-enriched programming that will help them stabilize and exit homelessness. The site includes 45 family units, computer labs for the residents, administrative space for staff and providers, an outdoor playground and recreational space, an indoor recreation space, a homework/study lounge for residents, and other amenities.
“As we continue our efforts to prevent homelessness—which we have done successfully for more than 5,700 families—we recognize that these programs are the centerpiece of the transformation of our emergency response system for adults with children,” said Director of the DC Department of Human Services (DHS) Laura Zeilinger. “I am so proud we can begin placing families in need of short term emergency housing into these new programs starting in the next couple of weeks.”
In January, Mayor Bowser released her plan and timeline to close DC General Family Shelter by the end of 2018, keeping a promise to District residents to close – once and for all – the outdated shelter. In its place, smaller, more dignified programs are being built across the District. The Patricia Handy Place for Women, a low-barrier shelter for women in Ward 2, began operations in early 2016. The Ward 7 and Ward 8 programs will open in October and November, respectively. Short-term family housing programs are the centerpiece of Mayor Bowser’s transformation of the District’s emergency response system for families.
Earlier this month, Mayor Bowser announced the three service providers that her Administration selected to run the short-term family housing programs in Wards 4, 7, and 8. The Kennedy, will be operated by The National Center for Children and Families; the Ward 7 program, The Horizon, will be operated by Life Deeds; and the Ward 8 site will be operated by Community of Hope.
The Kennedy is designed to meet LEED Gold certification and includes onsite stormwater quality control limiting offsite runoff, a green roof, energy efficient windows, and a high-efficiency HVAC system.
“We are proud to support Mayor Bowser's efforts to end homelessness with the delivery of the Ward 4 short-term family housing site,” said Greer Johnson Gillis, Director of the Department of General Services. “The Kennedy also keeps DC on the path to becoming the greenest city in the world.”
Establishing an effective crisis response system, including the development of smaller, community-based short-term family housing programs, is a key strategy of Homeward DC, the Bowser Administration’s strategic plan to make homelessness rare, brief, and nonrecurring. Beginning in May 2018, DHS ceased new placements at DC General Family Shelter. Since that time, DHS and partners have worked to support families and swiftly exit them from DC General and into permanent housing. At full-capacity, DC General provided shelter to 260 families. Today, only 55 families remain at the shelter.
As a result of the Homeward DC plan, the District has reduced overall homelessness by more than 17 percent in two years, and has reduced family homelessness by 40 percent over the same time. In addition to making unprecedented investments in affordable housing opportunities, the Administration launched a Homelessness Prevention Program which has successfully prevented a shelter stay for more than 5,700 families; increased investments in permanent housing programs by nearly 60 percent; expanded year-round access to provide immediate shelter for families in need regardless of the weather; and connected 3,900 single adults to permanent housing, including 1,700 veterans.