COG’s Homeless Services Planning and Coordination Committee released its 8th Homeless Enumeration Report today, revealing that the number of homeless individuals in the Metropolitan Washington Region has remained consistent over the past three years. The number of homeless individuals has increased by only 2.9% since 2005. The report counted 11,752 homeless people for 2008 compared to 11,762 in 2007.
Officials said they are hopeful the lack of a major increase is symbolic of the region’s efforts to end homelessness, which includes the implementation of a Housing First approach. The approach is just one of the Homeless Enumeration Report’s recommendations for ending homelessness, which include:
- Placing people in housing first instead of emergency shelter and providing them with supportive services immediately.
- Increasing targeted resources to prevent homelessness such as emergency rental assistance
- Increasing individual and family incomes by adopting ‘living wages’
- Creating affordable housing opportunities at all income levels
“The Housing First approach, based on the philosophy that housing is a basic human right, focuses on securing permanent housing for homeless individuals and families before providing them with additional services,” said Tommy Wells, D.C. Council Member and Chair of the COG Human Services Planning Committee. The District of Columbia’s Housing First Fund has allocated $19.2 million to move the most vulnerable homeless individuals into permanent supportive housing units. The Fund will provide housing and services to 80 families and 400 individuals, reducing the chronically homeless population by 23% and family homelessness by 42%.
The Housing First approach, unlike the Continuum of Care model which moves homeless individuals through levels of housing according to their ability to live independently, has been successful in several states including Colorado, Massachusetts, Alaska, New York, California, Pennsylvania and Illinois. A pilot program in New York demonstrated an 85% success rate.
For a full copy of the 2008 Homeless Enumeration Report visit: http://www.mwcog.org/publications/departmental.asp?CLASSIFICATION_ID=5&SUBCLASSIFICATION_ID=6
COG is the association of 21 local governments working together for a better metropolitan region.