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The Problem

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Did You Know?

The number of homeless persons in the District of Columbia (including veterans) was 7,748 in 2014.

The number of persons in homeless families in Washington, DC, increased by 50% in the past five years.

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People become homeless for many reasons. One of the most important is the continuing loss of affordable housing. Other primary causes include rising food, health care and utility costs, domestic violence and inadequate public benefits. In addition, the current recession and housing market crisis are contributing to the problem of homelessness.

Another cause is the lack of effective planning to ensure safe, supportive housing for people discharged from hospitals and other institutions. In the District, people are often just turned out onto the streets into shelters that push them out at break of day.

Still another cause is the shortage of services to prevent recurrent homelessness. Homeless people may need help to overcome problems that contributed to their becoming homeless, e.g., mental illness, drug or alcohol addiction, lack of marketable job skills.

They also often need help in securing public benefits essential to their health, safety and long-term economic well-being. And those benefits must be more adequate than they are now.

Whatever the causes, people who become homeless need shelter right away. D.C. does not have enough beds in emergency shelters for everyone who needs them. Nor are enough shelters appropriate for families and for young people on their own.

The District is also short on transitional housing with supportive services and on longer-term affordable housing. Without these, homeless individuals and families will continue cycling in and out of emergency shelters-a costly, stop-gap solution to a major systemic problem.

What We Do

SOME and our coalition partners are advocating for funding that will prevent homelessness by increasing:

We also collaborate to improve protections and services for homeless people, including: