Cheh Secures Funding for Plan to End Homelessness in the District

Money will come from Internet sales tax on purchases

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Councilmember Mary M. Cheh (D – Ward 3) successfully secured up to $50 million annually in the District’s Fiscal Year 2014 budget to fund an effort, co-authored by Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham, which will seek to eradicate homelessness throughout the District of Columbia within 10 years.

The funds to support the Cheh-Graham initiative will come from revenue raised by a sales tax on internet purchases by District residents, once the tax is approved by Congress.

Currently, the District of Columbia has an estimated 18,500 people who are homeless, giving Washington, D.C. one of the highest rates of homelessness in the country. Councilmember Cheh, along with numerous homeless and affordable housing advocates, believes that this major victory is the first step in truly addressing the widespread homelessness that has plagued the District for years.

“Today, the District has taken the first major step in fulfilling our moral obligation to the less fortunate and those in need of a helping hand in our city,” said Councilmember Cheh. “The allocation of nearly $50 million a year solely dedicated to addressing this issue puts our city on track to not only achieve the goal of eliminating homelessness in the District, but eliminating homelessness within five to 10 years.”

In addition to creating a dedicated fund to end homelessness, Councilmembers Cheh and Graham’s initiative calls for establishing a concrete goal of ending homelessness, the appointment of a Cabinet-level official tasked with executing the District’s plan for ending homelessness, providing shelter to all homeless youth, and the development of comprehensive intake and assessment program for the district’s entire homeless population.

“We applaud the city’s leadership in dedicating significant new revenue to ending homeless in the District. Proven solutions to ending homelessness exist and the primary barrier progress on this urgent issue is a lack of resources,” said Scott Schenkelberg, President and CEO, Miriam’s Kitchen.

The Fiscal Year 2014 budget goes into effect October 1, 2013.

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