While total homelessness has decreased in DC, chronic homelessness has increased

Washington-DC

WASHINGTON (WDVM) — According to new figures released Thursday, the total number of people experiencing homelessness in D.C. decreased by 19.9% since 2020. Family homelessness decreased by nearly 50%.

The District also saw a “small increase” in chronic homelessness. Some of the conditions that would classify someone as “chronically homeless” include a disabling condition, repeated episodes, or homelessness for over one year.

“We know the intervention that works best for people who experience chronic homelessness is permanent supportive housing,” said DHS Director Laura Zeilinger, “and it tells us how we need to increase the number of permanent supportive housing in our community.”

Mayor Muriel Bowser shared the news at a celebration marking the one-year anniversary of The Brooks, a short-term family housing site. The results are part of the Community Partnership for the Prevention of Homelessness’s 2021 Point-In-Time (PIT) Count. The study is a Department of Housing and Urban Development requirement of all jurisdictions receiving federal homeless assistance funding. It must be conducted at least every other year.

“We know that we do not count every person who has experienced homeless in a year that way,” said Zeilinger, “or even everybody that is experiencing homelessness on that day, but we use the same methodology year over year and that allows us to look at trends in our system.”

Earlier this month, the Bowser Administration launched STAY DC to provide rent and utility payments for residents who have struggled during the COVID-19 pandemic. The District will pay unpaid rent as far back as April 1, 2020; pay forward rent, up to three months at a time; pay for water, gas, and electricity expenses, and provide extended housing support for up to 18 months.

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