The John and Jill Kerr Conway Residence — For Some, a Glimpse of Heaven

Clifford Rowe, US Veteran, John and Jill Kerr Conway resident

“When I look out at my view from my window on the tenth floor, it feels like I’m in heaven,” said Clifford Rowe, a resident of the new John and Jill Kerr Conway Residence at its recent ribbon cutting ceremony. “But my favorite thing about it isn’t the view or even the people — it’s that it’s mine!” Rowe, a 76-year-old Veteran who had been experiencing homelessness for more than twenty years, could barely contain his excitement while addressing the crowd of local and federal government leaders, service providers and supporters.

The John and Jill Ker Conway Residence, named after the late World War II Veteran and his wife, includes 60 units of permanent supportive housing for Veterans experiencing homelessness and another 64 units for District residents who meet the income requirements for affordability. The North Capitol Commons Project dates back to Mayor Adrian Fenty’s Administration and was difficult to develop due to its complex funding structure.

Slated to cost about $33 million, it has being financed through a mix of public and private sources, including low-income housing tax credits, tax-exempt bonds, and federal HOME funds through the D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD).

(Left to right) Chris Goldie, Nephew of Jill Ker Conway; Rosanne Haggerty, Community Solutions; Clifford Rowe, US Veteran and Conway Resident; Julián Castro, former Secretary, HUD; Mayor Muriel Bowser; DHS Director Laura Zeilinger, Bob McDonald, former Secretary, VA; Michael Taylor, Conway resident

“The John and Jill Ker Conway Residence is a perfect example of the great things that can happen when the public and private sectors come to the table to work together towards one goal,” said Mayor Bowser. “I’m proud to announce to you today that since beginning the push to end Veteran homelessness four years ago — nearly 1,800 Veterans have been housed, with 764 Veterans housed in 2015 and 463 placed in permanent housing in 2016,” she continued.

In 2013, the District formed Veterans NOW, a coalition made up of government agencies and providers including the DC Interagency Council on Homelessness, DHS, the Washington DC VA Medical Center, the DC Housing Authority, The Community Partnership for the Prevention of Homelessness, Community Connections, Housing Counseling Services, Inc., Community Solutions, Miriam’s Kitchen, Friendship Place, Operation Renewed Hope Foundation, US Vets and Catholic Charities. Since then, DC has received support from local and national stakeholder organizations to accelerate efforts to provide housing for Veterans.

Since August 2013, the District has housed nearly 1,800 Veterans experiencing homelessness; with 764 Veterans housed in 2015 and 468 placed into permanent housing in 2016. As of today, there currently 268Veterans experiencing homelessness in the District — this number has decreased from 499 over the past three years.

“We know that the Housing First approach provides immediate safe and permanent housing to stabilize those who are experiencing homelessness while offering the supportive services people may need after they have been stably housed. I worked on this project at its inception, and I’m so excited that it will be the first of many like it to provide safe, affordable housing for our Veterans and other vulnerable residents,” said Department of Human Services Director Laura Zeilinger.

DHS Director Laura Zeilinger addressing attendees of the John and Jill Kerr Conway Residence Ribbon Cutting ceremony.

District landlords with available, affordable housing are encouraged to partner with the District to help sustain the work that has been accomplished thus far. For more information, please write newleaseonlife@dc.gov.