Proposal has three strategic components, two actionable items for FY14
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Councilmembers Mary M. Cheh (D – Ward 3) and Jim Graham (D – Ward 1) today called on their colleagues to eradicate homelessness in the District of Columbia. In a memo sent to the other Councilmembers, entitled “A Commitment and Investment to End Homelessness,” Cheh and Graham laid out a three-pronged approach: dedicate substantial funding, establish a concrete plan with a definite time-frame for success, and create a directorship focused specifically on this issue.
“We are deeply concerned about homelessness in the District,” said Councilmembers Cheh and Graham. “In a growing, thriving city like ours, there is no excuse for allowing individuals, families, and children to live on the street, in a car, or without a home. This is the right thing to do.”
An estimated18,500 people are homeless in Washington, D.C. over the course of a year, which is 3.2% of the District’s population – one of the highest rates in the country. In the D.C. metropolitan region, 51% of area’s total homeless population resides in Washington, more than in all of the surrounding MD and VA counties combined. These staggering numbers come in the face of economic growth and prosperity in the city.
Over the past several weeks, both Councilmembers’ offices have met with affordable housing advocates and stakeholders from across the District. Through these meetings and research, both members have concluded that investing in ending homelessness, in addition to being morally right, will have the added benefit of reducing the District’s costs for medical treatment, prisons and jail, and social services.
For example, according to the New England Journal of Medicine, homeless people spent an average of four days longer per hospital visit than comparable non-homeless people. This extra cost, approximately $2,414 per hospitalization, is attributable to homelessness. The National Alliance to End Homelessness confirms that homelessness both causes and results from serious health care issues, including addiction, psychological disorders, HIV/AIDS, and a host of order ailments that require long-term, consistent care. Homelessness inhibits this care, as housing instability often detracts from regular medical attention, access to treatment, and recuperation. Addressing and ending homelessness in turn addresses rising costs in the medical, housing, and social-service sectors.