Earlier this month, the Thrive DC Communications team participated in the Way Home Campaign’s morning of advocacy, welcoming back the DC Council after their summer recess and reminding them to keep ending homelessness on the top of their to-do lists. The Way Home Campaign brings together 98 organizations and over 5,000 people who are passionate about ending and preventing chronic homelessness in D.C.
Representatives from Thrive DC, alongside about 30 advocates from Miriam’s Kitchen and Pathways to Housing DC, as well as concerned community members, split up into three groups. Each group knocked on the doors of 4 different council member’s offices. The advocates reminded the council members of The Way Home Campaign’s mission to end chronic homelessness and get a jumpstart on advocacy for the fiscal year 2020.
The Way Home Campaign’s mission includes three major points. It states that ending chronic homeless is:
Many individuals who are experiencing chronic homelessness suffer from life-threatening health conditions, severe mental illnesses, and/or substance abuse issues. Without a stable and safe place to call home, these conditions are almost impossible to manage. These D.C. residents are dying young of manageable and preventable diseases, which is why the council must act now.
While the task may seem daunting, communities in cities such as Houston, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, and New Orleans have ended chronic homelessness among their veterans. There is a plan and advocates know what needs to be done, but now they simply need political will and resources to reach this goal.
It costs less to end chronic homelessness than it does to manage it. Between the costs of shelter, hospitals, police interaction, and other emergency services, it's cheaper to Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH), the gold standard for ending chronic homelessness.
On Monday, September 17th, the advocates entered the Wilson Building to speak with council members on these issues. As a Communications Intern with Thrive DC, I attended the event and was surprised at the sheer number of advocates who showed up to welcome back the council. Despite being from different fields, areas of interest, or regions of D.C., everyone had something different to contribute to the group and different facts to bring to the table. The more people who showed up to offices the better, proving to the council members that ending chronic homelessness is a cause that several organizations are supporting. It seemed important to me that the council members could put faces to the people advocating for their support in ending chronic homelessness.
Here were some of the bigger talking points of the day...
In 2017, 45 people died without the dignity of a home.
D.C. has made big strides and housed more than 2,000 people in the past 4 years. Now, the council must fund what is needed to meet the commitment to end chronic homelessness.
To end chronic homelessness, D.C. needs to add 1644 units of permanent supportive housing, 307 units of targeted affordable housing, and 1874 units of rapid rehousing.
All together, the plan will cost 72 million dollars over the course of a few years. However, this is still just one half of one percent of D.C.’s budget overall.
The council members seemed responsive to the advocacy, and many of them engaged in conversation and asked questions about the campaign’s plan and outlook. This form of direct advocacy can positively influence change, and that’s what The Way Home Campaign and its partners are aiming to do.
Thrive DC will continue to engage in more direct advocacy like this in the future, and will always work in whatever ways possible to end and prevent chronic homelessness in D.C.