Most people probably believe that this mission isn’t possible – maybe the challenge is too big, too expensive, or too unrealistic. Many have chosen to ignore it and almost accept homelessness as a constant in our society. We believe differently and we are proud to stand with those that are helping to end chronic homelessness in Washington, DC. Here is why…
- Great strides have been made in DC. Since 2013, chronic homelessness has declined by 17% and veteran homelessness has declined by 41%. This translates to 886 individuals and 2,000 veterans now having homes. Its great progress that DC should be proud of.
- Cities across the country have been successful. Thirty-four cities and two states have announced an end to veteran homelessness. Phoenix and Salt Lake City have ended chronic homelessness altogether.
- Providing housing would ultimately save taxpayer funds and not ending homelessness is expensive. A recent study showed that DC’s most vulnerable homeless population cost at least $19 million per year in ER visits, ambulance rides, police interactions, hospitalizations, and crises services. The most vulnerable of that group cost $40,843 per person annually. Permanent supportive housing for each of those people would only cost $15,889. By increasing funding for proven solutions like Permanent Supportive Housing, for example, the DC government would be taking a fiscally responsible investment that improves the lives of its most vulnerable residents.
- The business community and non-profit community will play a critical role in ending homelessness in DC – as it has in other cities making progress. Here in DC, the business community is increasingly committed to this effort. A growing number of small and large companies have partnered with Miriam’s Kitchen to ensure that resources are provided to help bring an end to chronic homelessness in DC.
While we are excited about the progress being made by Miriam’s Kitchen and others, the existing problem is very real. Tonight, there are around 1,500 people experiencing chronic homelessness in DC (7,400 experiencing homelessness generally), including over 200 veterans. Many will have to face the extreme heat of the upcoming summer months and the freezing temperatures of winter. They will have to rely on shelters, food kitchens, and others for food, clothes, and an occasional place to sleep safely indoors. The challenge is significant.
The rapidly decreasing number of individuals experiencing chronic homelessness in DC, however, is promising, especially among veterans. The success stories of other major cities – New Orleans, Boston, Las Vegas, and Houston, to name a few – provide additional promise that our nation’s capital, too, can be successful. The commitment of our community provides additional hope and the fiscal realities provide both urgency and clarity. The light at the end of the tunnel is exciting, but there is more work to be done and we proudly stand with those that are making a difference in this effort.
For more information on Miriam’s Kitchen, please visit: www.miriamskitchen.org