When I took the oath of office as mayor, I pledged to build a D.C. that gives all Washingtonians a fair shot. I committed to making homelessness in D.C. rare, brief and nonrecurring. I said — and I have said many times over the past 2 1/2 years — that in a city as prosperous as ours, we can and must end homelessness.
During my first 100 days as mayor, I worked to develop a citywide plan to end homelessness in the nation’s capital. This plan is threefold. First, we are helping our residents avoid homelessness in the first place. Second, we are getting those who fall on hard times into safe shelter. Third, we are getting families and individuals back into permanent housing.
And our plan is working.
In just the past year, Washington, D.C., saw a 10.5 percent reduction in homelessness, largely due to a 22 percent reduction in homelessness among families. And through increased prevention efforts, we have helped more than 3,200 families overcome a housing crisis and avoid shelter stays.
Our reforms are taking root, and the investments we are making are spurring lasting change. We also know, however, that we need more short-term housing opportunities. Unfortunately, there will be days and nights when members of our community find themselves in need of emergency shelter. This is why part of our plan to end homelessness involves building safe, dignified short-term housing facilities throughout the city.
For the past decade, D.C. General has served as our only emergency family shelter. But we can no longer drag our feet on closing it. The shelter does not provide the depth of services families need to get back on their feet, and its location makes it difficult to balance day-to-day activities with securing a permanent home.