Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Easy Activistm: Homelessness

The issue of homelessness in DC has bubbled into the news a few times in past months. Central Union Mission and the DC gov't. continue to grapple with plans for relocation. As well, the shelter at the Franklin School is about to close. With the Community for Creative Nonviolence, DC's largest full-service shelter, not accepting new residents until after their renovation, the availability of emergency shelter beds has declined this year. Despite the 1984 Right to Overnight Shelter Act, shelter space remains scarce, and some is unacceptably dirty or unsafe.

There is some good news though: The DC Housing First initiative sets a plan to get 2500 homeless into permanent housing by the end of 2009. If this goal is met, about half of the current homeless population would have homes and access to support services. Eleven million dollars have been budgeted for this program, and the DC Department of Human Services has another eight million set aside for services for the homeless. As well, local non profits continue to do a lot of good. Many of the privately-run programs for the homeless take a holistic approach; though emergency beds still exist, shelter clients are now likely to be able to get medical care and counseling and a boost toward stable housing. Amongst services listed for various shelters, I have seen homework help, legal aid, art classes, and literacy training. More good news: according to a PBS report, the vast majority of homeless are not chronically homeless -- defined as homeless for one year or more or having experienced four or more periods of homelessness in three years. When proper resources are available, many people can find homes and support services.

Help DC's providers of services to the homeless to continue to transition people off of our streets. The easiest and most painless thing to do is to make a donation. For a list of charities to consider, have a look at Street Sense's resource list, which will give you a summary of services provided by each organization. You can select beneficiaries by types of services offered, population served, and even size by quickly glancing through this list. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development also maintains a list of DC resources here.

Before the holiday season makes you feel broke and overwhelmed, give what you can. Many organizations allow donations through their websites. If giving a lump sum seems like it will hurt, creating a small monthly recurring payment the next time you are banking online might take the sting out (giving five percent of your annual pay = scary, donating 5% of each paycheck = manageable). Maybe you just want to wade slowly into charitable giving with a small one-off donation; you could start with an amount equivalent to the cost of your last dinner out or what you spent at coffee shops last month.

Please also consider attending the upcoming Street Sense reception and silent auction on Thursday, October 2nd. Tickets start at $25 online or $35 at the door, and you will have the opportunity to bid on theater and sports tickets, restaurant gift certificates, jewelry, and art among other things. Your participation will help Street Sense, a newspaper that creates job opportunities for the homeless while raising awareness of social issues, with its operations budget.


Anonymous said...

N Street Village is a fantastic women's shelter right here in Logan Circle (at 14th and N). And don't forget about the annual Help the Homeless Walkathon down on the Mall, this year on Nov. 22, as another easy way to contribute.

Anonymous said...

Any recommendations on where to donate clothes in the area?

Mr. Other Upper NW said...

Anon-I believe martha's tab;e accepts clothing donations. They're located on 14th just north of V (I think). You shoudl check their website to make sure they accept clothing donations.

14th & You said...

Martha's Table accepts clothing donations (www.marthastable.org). From the website: Clothing and other household items are accepted between the hours of 7:30am to 12:00 noon Tuesday through Saturday. Clothing donations must be clean, in season, on hangers, in sturdy shopping bags or medium sized boxes. Please do not bring loose items or clothing thrown in trash bags. New items are always accepted.

Suited for Change provides women's business clothing to low income women seeking jobs.

Bread for the City also accepts clothing.

For a list of other charities accepting donations of household goods, go to www.charitablechoices.org.

Anonymous said...

Very good topic, and great information from the bloggers. Thanks!

On a slightly related note, is there any news on the pawn shop just north of P on the west side of 14th? It's related because there's an argument that pawn shops facilitate spending beyond one's means...a stretch, but I wanted to ask the question. Maybe a post on it?

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the post. I definitely want to donate some things.