(Washington, DC) – Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser cut the ribbon on The Sterling, the District’s short-term family housing site in Ward 5, the first of three sites opening in 2019 and winter 2020. This opening continues the momentum toward making homelessness rare, brief, and non-recurring in the District and replacing the DC General Family Shelter, which Mayor Bowser closed in 2018.
“Our short-term family housing facilities represent community-based support networks that serve as a model for how we provide our neighbors with safe and dignified housing – a model we hope the federal government will emulate when housing families and children,” said Mayor Bowser. “When we set out to end homelessness in Washington, DC, we did so knowing that it would take a citywide solution to solve a citywide challenge. The Sterling is the type of second chance housing that puts our residents on the path to permanent housing.”
At The Sterling, families will have access to service-enriched programming that will assist them stabilize and exit homelessness. The site includes 46 family-sized units, computer labs for residents, administrative space for staff and providers, an outdoor playground and recreational space, a community room, a homework and study lounge, and other amenities. The Sterling 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’re making meaningful progress to end homelessness,” said DC Department of Human Services Director Laura Zeilinger. “We are providing neighbors who experience a housing crisis with deep level services that many of our families need to help them stabilize and establish their plan to permanent housing. From income growth and social programs to behavioral health resources, we are delivering these services in dignified, safe and community-based sites that help support families to reach their best potential.”
The ribbon cutting is a continuation of Mayor Bowser’s commitment to close and replace the DC General Family Shelter with dignified, service-enriched programs in all eight wards. The Sterling ribbon cutting follows the opening of STFH sites in Ward 4 (The Kennedy), Ward 7 (The Horizon), and Ward 8 (The Triumph) in 2018, the groundbreaking of the Ward 1 STFH site in July 2019, and the recent ribbon cutting of the W.J. Rolark Building, a temporary short-term family housing site, in August 2019. Mayor Bowser also opened the Patricia Handy Place for Women, a low-barrier shelter for women in Ward 2, in early 2016.
Since the implementation of Homeward DC, the District has seen a nearly 22% decrease in homelessness, driven by a 45% reduction in homelessness among family households, and chronic homelessness is the lowest it has been in 15 years. The Mayor’s Fiscal Year 2020 budget invested $37 million in new funds to continue the implementation of Homeward DC to make homelessness rare, brief, and non-recurring, including over $20 million to support the new short-term family housing programs and help residents transition into permanent housing.
Mayor Bowser launched a Homelessness Prevention Program, which has successfully prevented a shelter stay for more than 7,000 families since 2016; connected 4,800 single adults and 4,600 families to permanent housing; expanded the Landlord Partnership Fund to support landlords who provide housing opportunities to our vulnerable neighbors; and, opened a new Downtown Day Services Center for individuals experiencing homelessness.
The Mayor was joined at the groundbreaking by Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie, administration officials, members of the Ward 5 Short-Term Family Housing Advisory Team, and community members.