Thursday, March 26, 2009

Holy $%*#! The Mayor Is Housing Families!!!!!

Breaking with tradition, I'm actually posting some good news about DC mayor Adrian Fenty (a man) and his plans to house the homeless. He too is breaking with tradition by doing something he hasn't done much of until now -- housing families. As of February 25th, 2009, only 1 family (and 414 homeless singles) had been housed through his Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) program. Bear in mind that DC had over 6,200 homeless individuals as of February 25th, 2009. (See my own comment, which I sent in response to Deb's comment, in my previous post. It will tell you where to find stats on the homeless.)

I received the following info in my e-mail account recently and decided to post it. However, I take issue with how certain stats are presented. Toward the end of the document, it states that, according to Downtown BID (Business Improvement District), there has been a sharp decline in the number of downtown homeless. It fails to mention that the reason is that the Franklin School Shelter was closed and the homeless were simply shuffled to other parts of town for the most part, not housed. This is reminiscent of an antic that the mayor used in his speech to DC Jail inmates on February 23rd, 2009. (See video to the right of your screen which begins with me making comments about the mayor.) In that video the mayor can be heard saying that he "housed the men from Franklin", thus leading those who don't know any better to think that he housed ALL of the men from Franklin. He housed 86 of Franklin School Shelter's 300+ residents. The remainder was moved to other shelters and the streets. This is essentially dishonest.

Also, I have good reason to believe that the head of the homeless division of Downtown BID might've been pushing the mayor to close Franklin School Shelter. (Ah, the ironies of life!!!!!) As if that's not enough, the DC Downtown Neighborhood Assoc. (DC DNA) is pressuring the mayor to issue RFP's (requests for proposal) for Franklin School. There are presently no plans for the building. The business community is approaching the mayor behind closed doors and getting what they want.

For what it's worth, I'll express gratitude for what good the mayor and his administration manage to do. That much having been said, I'll blog about the shortcomings of the housing plan soon. For the moment, Fenty and company can live off of their laurels. Check out the news release below.....

News Release for Immediate Release
March 18, 2009

Fenty Announces New Housing Facility for Homeless FamiliesContact: Mafara Hobson, 202-744-4549 (cell)

Administration highlights District's Point in Time Count that reveals a drop in chronic and street homelessness in the District
Today Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, joined by Department of Human Services Director Clarence Carter, officially opened Naylor Road temporary housing for homeless families, a 28-unit apartment complex that provides shelter for homeless families.

Standing in front of Naylor Road, the Mayor announced important progress in addressing homelessness for families and single adults. At a time where the economic downturn has resulted in an increased number of families seeking homeless services across the country, the District has expanded and improved services for families experiencing homelessness by:

1. Opening a new temporary housing facility for families at Naylor Road
2. Offering rapid re-housing services aimed at shortening episodes of family homelessness
3. Increasing placements in transitional housing programs
4. Working to place 80 families, needing longer-term supports, in permanent supportive housing (PSH) with associated wrap around services.

"We made the promise early in this administration to serve families experiencing homelessness with dignity and work as fast as humanly possible to reintegrate them back into our communities" said Mayor Fenty. "In these difficult economic times, we remain steadfast in that commitment."

The facility is the newest of four temporary housing shelters in the District. Currently, twenty-eight families are housed at Naylor - each has been assigned a case manager and has access to a range of services, which help families move beyond homelessness.

Moreover, the District is working to reduce the length of time families experience homelessness. As one of only 23 jurisdictions awarded funding to pilot the Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) new Rapid Re-housing Initiative, the District is receiving $1.9 Million over three years. The innovative program targets families in emergency shelters and provides 12-15 month subsidies to assist 50 families in existing homelessness.

For the families who need long-term supports, the District is committed to providing tailored services. Currently, 80 families are in the process of transitioning into permanent supportive housing (PSH). All have been engaged with case managers and six have already been placed in their own apartments.

Further, the District's Housing First Initiative, announced less than a year ago, is already serving more than 400 formerly homeless individuals with supportive services and housing assistance. As a result, the District's 2009 homeless enumeration revealed an unprecedented reduction in street homelessness, chronic homelessness and use of emergency shelters.

Mayor Fenty and Director Carter also announced the results of the 2009 Point in Time enumeration, an annual initiative that captures an unduplicated count of homeless and formerly homeless people in the District on a single day. The District's count was held on January 28, 2009 and revealed:

· 10-percent decrease in individuals relying on emergency shelters
· 12-percent decline in individuals identified as chronically homeless•
15-percent overall decrease in street homelessness.

Downtown Business Improvement District (BID) reports a 42-perecent drop in street homeless in the Downtown area.

The Point in Time count presents an opportunity to gather information on clients served, assist in identifying gaps in HUD's Continuum of Care, and helps plan for future homeless service programs. Since 2001, the Community Partnership for the Prevention of Homelessness has managed the District's Point in Time.

"We are creating a robust continuum of services for families and single individuals. As we can see at Naylor Road and through the Point in Time data, our new approach to serving our homeless neighbors is working," said Director Clarence Carter.

NOTE: I ran across an anonymous comment on the blog post entitled "We Demand Jobs!!!!!". The comment had been posted on March 5th. I just noticed and responded to it. If you posted it, you might want to read my response.

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Saturday, March 7, 2009

We've Got Michelle Obama's attention!!!!! (Fenty Is Running Scared.)

There is my blog as well as other blogs about homeless issues. Then there are the frequent news clips about homelessness and the highly contested closure of the Franklin School Shelter. Then there is Michelle Obama's visit to Miriam's Kitchen, a homeless soup kitchen. All in all, the issue of homelessness is taking center stage. As if that weren't enough, there is proof positive that the image-conscious DC mayor Adrian Fenty is running scared. See the story below.....

Michelle Obama visited Miriam's Kitchen, which feeds DC's homeless community breakfast and has other helpful programs, on Thursday, March 5th. Her visit, in and of itself, was reason enough for conversation. Nonetheless, the fact that she wasn't accompanied by the mayor is all the more reason for conversation. The homeless community is extremely disgruntled with the mayor. What's more is that they got the chance to speak to the first lady without him being there. He doesn't know what was said about him or what she will tell her husband about him.

On Friday (the day after her visit) I received 4 e-mails from a certain Brenda Perkins of DC's Dept. of Human Services. I have nothing against Brenda. I've never met her. I didn't even know that she existed before I got her e-mails. For all I know, she might be sweeter than sugar and the best thing since apple pie. As it turns out, Brenda is the point person who has been appointed by the mayor to deal with my complaints. Mayor Adrian Fenty had forwarded several of my e-mails containing complaints about homeless services to Ms. Perkins. They were several months old, dating as far back as the last week of August 2008.

I should point out that Fred Swan of DHS has been acting as my de facto point person, responding to my mass e-mails. I presume that he was put up to it by Clarence Carter, the director of DHS. Brenda, however, was appointed by the mayor himself. This amounts to micro-management on the part of the mayor. Micro-management on the part of a chief executive is usually indicative of him/her taking a special interest in a certain issue or being afraid of something going terribly awry. In this case, I'm inclined to think that it is the latter.

Add to this the fact that Mayor Fenty had Ms. Perkins responding to multiple messages in the same day (which he himself has never done before) and the fact that one of them was over 6 months old. It now begins to look as if Mayor Fenty feels a sense of urgency in addressing matters which he hereto now has been indifferent or apathetic about. With Michelle Obama having visited with the homeless and shown an interest in the issue, the mayor wants to repair his image and make ammends with the homeless community. IT'S TOO LATE FOR THAT!!!!! The mayor is running scared.

The list goes on. On February 19th, I testified at 2 hearings. The latter one was a DHS oversight hearing. I mentioned the fact that I had done some "spy work" by going to the NY Ave. Homeless Shelter and going through the check-in procedure. I said that it took 2 hours to check people in during 35 degree weather. When Clarence Carter took the stand, he was confronted by Councilman Tommy Wells about that and said that he would look into the matter. He, his employees and the general public see that many people are paying attention to the homeless in general and me in particular. (Though I've blown my cover, this doesn't preclude others from doing "spy work".)

During the Inter-agency Council on Homelessness (ICH) meeting on February 25th, several homeless people articulated several long-standing problems with the system. When it was my turn to speak, I started out by stating that I know that I seem mean at times; but, it is for the purpose of making people do their jobs and I DO appreciate what people do. I heard several groans which I took to mean that I was giving some people headaches with my adversial, whip-cracking antics. GOOD!!!!! (Another interesting note about these ICH meetings is that Police Chief Cathy Lanier has attended the last 2. This could translate into better treatment of the homeless by the police.)

The stage is set for the homeless of DC to be recognized. They need only to step up to the plate and make their case known. I hope that they will piggy-back on what has been done for them (and in some cases by them). We need not lose momentum. The homeless need to attend any and all meetings, hearings and other events that are designed with them in mind. This is our big chance!!!!! Will you rise to the challenge????? We've got their attention. Fenty is running scared.

In October 2005, former first lady Laura Bush visited the homeless during a YSOP (Youth Service Opportunities Project -- dinner at the Church of the Epiphany. Unfortunately, I began attending that church the following month and thus I missed her. (I didn't meet Michelle Obama either.) Many of us hope that Michelle Obama will visit the homeless during a YSOP dinner also. Then again, she could visit any of several shelters including CCNV or come see us at Thrive DC (the new name for DPHW/the 9:30 Club).

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