D.C. running out of homes for the homeless this winter
Despite the calm month of December, last week was the coldest that D.C. has been all winter—and with the drop in temperature came the struggle to shelter the massive amount of homeless people throughout the city streets.
Last week, the total number of homeless families in shelter reached 481, 10% more than the previous week. When the temperature drops below 15 degrees while it is not snowing, or 20 degrees while it is snowing, D.C. must take the most aggressive measures to remove all of the homeless off of the streets, known as a “cold emergency“.
Recent court rulings have required the city to provide private rooms for homeless families rather than house them in recreation centers.
Child homelessness is at an all time high and evidently these children are three times more likely to have severe health problems than low income children living in homes. As a result of the large number of homeless families and the court rulings, D.C. General has fewer rooms than ever before.
The city has resorted to using motels such as the Quality Inn and the Days Inn to house these homeless families. However, the city’s budget did not allocate enough funds for a motel room per homeless family, and the city has proposed to use funds from child’s welfare department.
To keep up with the demand for shelters, the Department of Human Services has to exit about 65 families per month from each shelter, which raises huge concerns for the health and well-being of men, women, and children as the temperature drops.
The District faces a huge test this winter: whether or not they can help the most vulnerable community of the city.
Photo: Jonathan Comer via Flickr