On our last blog post, we had exposed harmful laws that the DC Council passed with the support of various non-profits. These laws were directed at punishing homeless people. Here is a brief summary of those laws. 1. Forcing homeless individuals to pay into escrow accounts, and those who refuse will face sanctions (that's the word used in the law) which could include being denied specific services.
2. Terminating homeless people from programs if they refuse two offers of Rapid Rehousing, a program where someone is put into housing for 4 months (which is paid by the government) and is expected to be able to pay for the housing. This program does not offer any other services like childcare travel assistance, job training or others, which makes it very problematic for those with children.
3. Terminating disabled homeless people from their programs (including their Permanent Supportive Housing) if "The client has not requested a reasonable accommodation to continue the supportive housing services for disability-related reasons, or has requested a reasonable accommodation and it was denied; and No household members who have been approved as part of the household unit for purposes of the program remain in the supportive housing placement"
If you wish to join the fight against this please start by signing our petition
demanding that the DC Government public address these laws and call a special session to review them.
Thanks to our Freedom of Information Act Request, we can now give a true summary of the amendments to the Homeless Services Reform Act that the Council Passed with the approval of several homeless service organizations.
But first the good news:
1. The Provisional Placement was dropped. This way families can immediately received services, and do not have to wait 15 days.
2. You can no longer be terminated from your housing or your program for being absent for 60 days. Now it's 180 days, but you have to give them notice within the first 30 days. When you come back after 180 days, you are required to be given another housing placement.BAD NEWS:
1. If you refuse 2 offers of Rapid Rehousing or any other housing option (regardless of whether or not it will be appropriate for you), you will be terminated from your program. The only change to the amendments is that there needs to be "research" to determine whether or not someone's refusing of a housing option is valid. This can be problematic because current research does not take into account the location of the housing (being too far from a metro station or place where you can a grocery store, or employment) and there is no requirement to offer comprehensive services like childcare or transportation assistance. Also just to let everyone know, this law has been in the Homeless Services Reform Act since the very beginning. The only difference is that Rapid Rehousing has been given priority as "acceptable housing". This was something that many community organizations failed to mention.
2. Those who go into any program are still required to pay into an escrow account or "similar savings account". It's an account will someone gives a part of their income each month into an account they cannot touch until they leave the program. If they refuse to put money into this account, they will not be terminated from the program, but will face "sanctions". This can include restrictions on where they can travel and being refused services. In other words if someone makes $250 a month from social Security and can't afford to give a dime to the escrow account, they will be punished. What makes matters worse is that it is up to the sole discretion of the Mayor (who recommended many of the harmful amendments in the first place) to determine what sanctions should be placed on those who can't afford to pay into the account.
3. A new amendment was added as well. It states that someone with a disability can be terminated from their Permanent Supportive Housing program if "The client has not requested a reasonable accommodation to continue the supportive housing services for disability-related reasons, or has requested a reasonable accommodation and it was denied; and No household members who have been approved as part of the household unit for purposes of the program remain in the supportive housing placement". There is also no clear language on helping anyone with a disability who is terminated to find housing that is better for them. This was not part of the Mayor's Amendments and seems to have been added by someone else working with the Council.
Now we understand why so many organizations did not want to give detailed reports of the Amendments. Two of the most dangerous amendments have still be passed, and a new one was added as well. Let's not forget that the Mayor is still in charge of creating rules to make sure these amendments will be carried out.
Another question we should ask is "What community organizations thought these laws would be helpful?"
If you want to get involved in an effort to combat the continued injustices to homeless people especially homeless youth, then check out the main page for Nothing For Us Without Us by clicking here
.If you want to read the amendments for yourself click here and go to page 84 and go to the section SUBTITLE Q. HOMELESS SERVICES REFORM
Please send emails, letters, and protest and demand answers from the Council and the Mayor.
| |Chairman Phil Mendelson
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Suite 504, Washington, DC email@example.com
(202) 724-8032David Catania (At-Large)
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Suite 404, Washington, DC firstname.lastname@example.org
(202) 724-7772 Vincent Orange (At-Large)
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Suite 107, Washington, DC email@example.com
(202) 724-8174 David Grosso (At-Large)
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Suite 406, Washington, DC firstname.lastname@example.org
(202) 724-8105 Anita Bonds (At-Large)
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Suite 408, Washington, DC email@example.com
(202) 724-8064 Jim Graham (Ward 1)
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, Suite 105, NW Washington, DC firstname.lastname@example.org
| |Jack Evans (Ward 2)
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, Suite 106, NW Washington, DC email@example.com
(202) 724-8058 Mary M. Cheh (Ward 3)
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, Suite 108, NW Washington, DC firstname.lastname@example.org
(202) 724-8062Muriel Bowser (Ward 4)
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, Suite 110, NW Washington, DC email@example.com
(202) 724-8052Kenyan McDuffie (Ward 5)firstname.lastname@example.org
(202) 724-8028 Tommy Wells (ward 6)
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, Suite 402, NW Washington, DC email@example.com
(202) 724-8072Yvette Alexander (Ward 7)
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, Suite 400, NW Washington, DC firstname.lastname@example.org
(202) 724-8068 Marion Barry (Ward 8)
1350 Pennsylvania Ave, Suite 102 NW
Washington, DC email@example.com
Also please contact these organizations and demand to know why they told the council that these amendments were acceptable:Washington Legal Clinic for the HomelessPatricia Fugere, Executive Directorfirstname.lastname@example.org
1200 U St NW # 3 Washington, DC 20009
(202) 328-5500DC Fiscal Policy InstituteEd Lazere, Directoremail@example.com
Kate Coventry, Policy Analyst- firstname.lastname@example.org
820 First Street, NE Suite 460 Washington, DC 20002
(202) 408-1080Miriam's Kitchen (Major supporter of the Rapid Rehousing Amendment)Kurt Runge, Director of Advocacyemail@example.com
2401 Virginia Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20037
Doing Outreach at Capital Pride 2013
For over 6 months now we've been doing outreach and connecting with youth who are in unstable housing conditions. During this time we've gotten the chance to talk to a lot of youth and hear their stories. We connected with youth in Shaw, Columbia Heights, and Mt. Pleasant. We also had great conversations with people at the Capital Pride Parade as well. Our first meetings went well. A lot of allies showed up, and we met youth who were interested in learning more about the work we do.
Despite all the hard work, it's been a difficult time for us. Youth homelessness isn't a very popular issue among activists. It's even less popular in Washington, DC. Finding allies who would be dedicated to organizing with couch surfing and homeless youth is incredibly difficult. So far most of the work has been done by the two organizers of the group. We don't have corporate backing or large budgets like a lot of non-profits do. Be size of this we can only have meetings once a month (which makes it hard to keep in touch with youth). We lack the numbers to do large scale outreach. At our last meeting in June no one came.
Even with all of these issues, we aren't giving up yet. To any youth who are reading this, come contact us. We know that most of you have friends that are having problems at home, sleeping at different places every night, or are staying in shelters. Getting involved will be a great way to help your family and friends who are experiencing hard times. We know that the youth who are most affected (those who are women, queer, and trans* people of color) are the ones who best know how to end youth homelessness on DC.
And many of you reading this are the most affected. Don't be afraid to stand up and fight for your rights as people. Right now services are being cut and shady deals are being made with non-profits and corrupt politicians. But when you start organizing and taking action, you'll be surprised how better things will be become. Don't forget all gains of the Civil Rights Movement, the Black and Brown Power Movements, and the struggles after the Stonewall Riots.