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'It hasn’t stopped growing since,' says D.C. org committed to ending homelessness

By Kaylin Culliver, Howard University News Service
On February 9, 2018

According to ThriveDC.org, there are over 7,500 homeless individuals in the District on any given night. With rising housing costs, the city is trying to cope with an influx of homeless individuals during the winter. The city has the highest per capita rate of homelessness of any city in the country, according to the Washington Post.

A former resident of the Calvary Women’s Services shelter who did not want to be named expressed her disgust with shelters.

“Shelters sound good. But when you’ve lived in them, and witnessed the rape, theft, and abuse that happens, especially to women, sleeping on the streets is a step up," the woman stated.

However, according to Idealist.org, a website that "opportunities for action and collaboration," there is an organization that has been recognized as the number one non-profit organization to provide the most families with affordable and stable housing. 

Housing Up was founded in 1990 in Sixteenth Street Heights, by the Christ Lutheran Church.

“After receiving a bequest twenty-six years ago, we weren’t sure what we wanted to invest the money in," Pastor Renata Eustis stated.

"Being as though homelessness was on the rise in D.C., and in our neighborhood particularly, we decided to start Housing Up as a way to reduce its prevalence. It started in an apartment on Kennedy and Georgia, and it hasn’t stopped growing since.”

Housing UP offers transitional housing, permanent supportive housing, and affordable housing to less fortunate, and homeless families. Families apply through the city, and after an evaluation, families are paired with the housing option that is most suited for their situation. According to HousingUp.org, in 2016, 150 families received permanent housing. Ninety-nine percent maintained stable housing.

Housing Up said its vision is to see homelessness in Washington ended by 2020.

"These aren’t just rinky dink homes that people who feel sorry for us provided. They are clean, nice looking homes that those of us who are formerly homeless, feel proud to bring our families to," four-year resident Louis Rivera said. 

Another resident provided with transitional housing is now a student at Howard University. A current second-year biology major, Matthew holds seminars about the prevalence of homelessness in the District.

To inform people about homelessness, Matthew explained, “What people don’t understand is that being homeless isn’t a choice. Not everyone was on drugs or stealing stuff."

"Some of us really got dealt terrible cards, and in the bigger picture, we don’t want your money. We don’t just need prayers. We need action.”

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