Gray launches campaign to move homeless families from shelters to housing

Yesterday, Mayor Vincent Gray began his 500 Families, 100 Days project, which, as its name suggests, hopes to move 500 of the city’s homeless families from the shelter system into affordable housing by the end of June. Although District officials have a lot of excitement for and commitment to the campaign, they have yet to provide a clear plan for its achievement and instead are relying on community involvement to help the families.

Gray’s plan is a result of this winter’s unexpected rise in the number of families left out on the streets in hypothermic conditions. According to City Paper, at one point, the 285 family shelter rooms at the former D.C. General Hospital were full, leaving D.C. to pay for 472 families to stay in motels in D.C. and Maryland.

500 Families, 100 Days was originally announced during Gray’s State of the District speech. “What’s limiting our capacity to help even more homeless families get back on their feet is our ability to identify additional apartments in which to place them,” Gray said at the time.

With that problem in mind, 500 Families, 100 Days is focused on encouraging landlords to offer affordable housing units. The program provides a rent subsidy through four months and offers a renewal option at the end of that period. Additionally, if a family misses two consecutive rent payments, the District’s Department of Human Services can pay the cost from the family’s Temporary Cash Assistance for Needy Families benefit.

Additionally, according to DCist, 500 Families, 100 Days includes the One Congregation, One Family program, which is pushing for faith communities to each adopt one homeless family and try to find a place for them to stay. At the 500 Families, 100 Days kickoff event, DHS Director David Berns said that he’s found that faith communities are the ones who most often care for the well being of their neighbors.

“We will never be the great city we can be unless we stand up and take care of the least of thee,” Gray said, according DCist. “Isn’t this the season to be able to do this, ladies and gentleman?”

Photo: cycling shepherd via Flickr

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