One Goal: Making it Easier for All Residents to Call DC Home

Deja Owens, a single mother, moved to DC from North Carolina in the hopes of providing a better life for she and her family. After experiencing financial hardship, Deja and her son took shelter in their car and, at times, began couch surfing with family and friends willing to share their homes. While experiencing homelessness, Deja visited the Virginia Williams Family Resource Center (VWFRC) to request emergency shelter.

After several months of living in shelter, Deja signed the lease to her new apartment. She was one of the 60 families experiencing homelessness joining Mayor Bowser, E&G Group — a local real estate development and consulting firm, the Interagency Council on Homelessness (ICH), and the DC Department of Human Services (DHS) for a lease signing event in Southeast DC.

Deja Owens shares her story of transitioning from homelessness to permanent housing with news reporters during the lease signing event in Southeast DC.

“This means a new life and a new start. I did this for my son. What I’ve been through, I don’t want my son experiencing any of that,” commented Deja. “I’m very happy.”

During the event, Mayor Bowser announced E&G Group’s commitment of 575 affordable housing units to help end homelessness and celebrated the signing of leases to homes at 11 locations throughout the city managed by the firm.

Partnership to End Homelessness

The District has taken several steps to make it easier for landlords to partner with DHS. These include the Landlord Partnership Fund, which provides reimbursement for certain costs incurred by landlords of tenants whose rent is subsidized by a DHS housing resource, such as the Rapid Rehousing or Permanent Supportive Housing programs. In return, landlords relax screening criteria for people experiencing certain barriers like poor credit and past evictions that have prevented them from securing housing on their own.

Other enhancements include:

- A streamlined payment structure so that participating landlords get a combined check each month;

- Enhanced case management services to clients;

- A Landlord Resolution Portal that helps resolve payment or other program related issues, and

- A new Flexible Rent Subsidy Pilot Program that targets families at risk of homelessness.

In order to streamline all of the housing services and opportunities in the District, Mayor Bowser recently launched Roots to Roofs DC, an initiative that highlights the wealth of available housing programs helping Washingtonians who have called the District home for decades continue to do so — or assist new residents in making DC their home for the first time.

From rental housing solutions to financing assistance, the Roots to Roofs DC website provides resources and information on programs in the District that assist with home purchase or rental assistance, housing repairs and updates, emergency housing and homelessness prevention. Upcoming events including home buyer information sessions and updates on affordable housing projects throughout the city are also shared on rootstoroofsdc.com.

This initiative also celebrates Mayor Bowser’s historic financial investments in affordable housing, including Homeward DC, the District’s strategic plan to make homelessness in the District rare, brief and nonrecurring.

Homeward DC, includes strategies to prevent homelessness, exit more Washingtonians experiencing homelessness into permanent housing faster and engage local landlords who have affordable units.

If you want to learn more or have units that might be available to households experiencing homelessness, please contact Darrell Cason at Darrell.Cason3@dc.gov.