D.C. anticipates increase in homelessness this winter

As the DC heat and humidity melts the tar over Georgetown’s construction-ridden campus, it makes it hard to believe that in a few months students will be complaining about the short trek from the dorms to Lau in the sub 32-degree wind chill. While students nestle in their Patagonia fleeces, grasping Corp hot chocolates, D.C. is expected to shelter many not-so-warm visitors on the streets.

According to a plan approved Tuesday by the Interagency Council on Homelessness (ICH), the District is preparing for an increase in homeless families seeking shelters by 16 percent, based on trends measured by the Virginia Family Resource Center of families requesting assistance this past summer.

The District is in the process of preparing for hypothermia season, spanning from November through the end of March. While many or most homeless families occupy D.C. General or smaller shelters, a judge in a DC Superior Court ruled last March that nearly 40 units in D.C. General do not meet the proper living conditions for sheltering families.

To handle a large capacity of families and to better living conditions, shelters plan to decrease the number of entries into the units, while speeding up the exits from the shelter, which will boost resources and improve living conditions for each family.

Although this is speculated to increase overall sufficiency, the need for overflow capacity is expected by December, at the peak of hypothermia season. The ICH Shelter Capacity Work group recommends that the winter plan provides for 1,375 available beds and is seeking out further options to address the overflow issue such as recommending the Department of General Services to temporarily lease motels for sheltering.

For any old-fashioned types like Vox who still look at the Farmer’s Almanac, this winter is on target to be even colder than the last.

Photo: Street Heart via Flickr

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