Ward 2 Council Member Pinto on Stemming Homelessness


The Georgetowner asked Ward 2 Council Member Brooke Pinto about her priorities for stemming  homelessness in the area. We published her response (below) as a guest column in our April 13 print issue. 

 

Thanks to unprecedented investments by the D.C. Council in thousands of housing vouchers this year, the District finally has sufficient resources to offer permanent supportive housing vouchers to all who qualify offering needed stability for individuals and families who have been staying at shelters, couch surfing, or sleeping unsheltered outside. These permanent supportive housing vouchers provide — as the name suggests — both housing and supportive services on a permanent basis so that those who receive a voucher will never have to experience homelessness again.

These vouchers became available on October 1, 2021, so why are so many people still waiting for housing? Like most important issues our city faces: it’s complicated. Once someone who is experiencing homelessness is engaged with and qualifies for a voucher, significant work begins to coordinate between the outreach workers, the Department of Human Services, and the DC Housing Authority. Some of the challenges include the physical supply of available units of housing, the application process, and paperwork requirements. I’ve worked with my colleagues to remove some of these barriers in order to expedite the process and will continue to do so.

Progress is being made and thousands of new placements are expected to be made by the end of the year.

I often hear from residents who say everyone should be able to stay on the street and closing down camping sites is never acceptable. I also often hear from other residents who say regardless of the means, these encampments should be removed.

As a Councilmember, I am leading with empathy and a need for action and support to move residents into safe, sustainable housing. I believe the CARE pilot program run by the office of the Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services should be expanded to all of our encampment sites in Ward 2 and the city. Through this program, residents are engaged, matched to qualifying housing resources, and moved into housing. Then these encampment sites are subsequently shut-down. The success found at the first four locations has shown significant progress with dozens of the residents living at these locations having now been housed.

There are many reasons someone may be experiencing homelessness. By providing an individualized approach, reimagining our shelter system, and investing in affordable housing, together we can end the cycle of homelessness in the District. It’s my commitment to continue to work every day to help move each resident experiencing homelessness into housing.

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