News / USA

Washington DC Facing Family Homelessness Crisis

Washington DC Facing Crisis in Family Homelessnessi
X
April 04, 2013 11:08 PM
The city of Washington, D.C., is facing an ongoing crisis in family homelessness. The latest data show that more than a thousand families are homeless, including at least 1800 children, a number that has risen almost 75 percent since the recession started in 2008. Milena Djurdjic has details.
Milena Djurdjic
The city of Washington, D.C., is facing an ongoing crisis in family homelessness. The latest data show that more than a thousand families are homeless, including at least 1800 children, a number that has risen almost 75 percent since the recession started in 2008.
 
With access to affordable housing severely restricted by budget cuts and a rising cost of living, local shelters have been crammed full throughout the winter.
 
Disabled single father Marcaus Scales has been homeless for a year. Since November, he and his four-year-old daughter Saihy have been living in the D.C. General family shelter, a converted hospital complex that is now a temporary home for about 286 families.
 
“I just got to constantly reassure her that things will get better, that it is only for a little bit," he says. "I get the crying at night. I get the 'I need your comfort.' Sometimes she just wants to sleep with me; she just needs 'daddy contact.' Sometimes she doesn't. Sometimes she adjusts pretty well.”
 
Still, Saihy goes to school every day while her father studies psychology at a local college. With most of D.C. General's children in school or daycare while parents work or try to find work, during the day its hallways are empty. The shelter was recently the center of local media attention after the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless, a non-profit advocacy group for impoverished residents of the nation's capital, reported on problems with heat and pest infestation.
 
“Every family will tell us, a shelter is not ideal, but is better than being on the street," says Amber Harding, an attorney for the clinic, whose mission is to help homeless individuals obtain housing, shelter and other services.
 
According to Harding, the streets of Washington are home to anywhere between 1,200 and 3,000 homeless children. Too often, she says, these families are forced to move from place to place on an almost daily basis in order to find a safe place to stay.
 
“The District [Washington, D.C.] is providing shelter to families only when the temperatures fall below 32 degrees [0 degrees Celsius]," she says. "So any night that is above 32 degrees, the District doesn’t have a legal obligation to provide shelter. And on those nights, we know that many families end up staying in bus stations, Greyhound stations, metro parks.”
 
For some shelter residents, however, there is reason to maintain hope. Sharisse Baltimore, for example, had called the shelter home for seven months — along with five of her six children. Her family was lucky enough to get into a voucher program that requires only 30 percent of her income for rent, enabling her to leave the shelter and move into her own house.

“One room, probably as big as this living room, there were six beds," she says, recalling the hardship of shelter life from a couch in her own living room. “I was overwhelmed, overjoyed. We actually came to look at the house and I had the keys, I had everything. I picked up the kids from the school and they were like 'Where are we going mommy?' When I let them out [they were asking] 'whose house is this?' I said this is our house.' 'Our house?' they said. 'Yes, honeys, this is our house.' I opened the door and they went running around."
 
But finding affordable housing is a major challenge, and some residents told council members at a recent hearing that gaining access to area shelters is even more difficult.
 
According to David Berns, the city’s Director of Human Services, Mayor Vincent Grey has already committed millions of dollars for homeless services, which, he says, is already starting to help.
 
“We are shortening the length of stay here," says Berns. "We have been able to reduce the number of placements into shelter from last year, so there is already positive effect that's taking place.”
 
Back at D.C. General, Marcaus Scales says homeless families should also be provided with training and education to keep any affordable housing they might acquire. In the meantime, however, he is not losing hope that he will soon find his way out.
 
“When you lose hope, you lose everything, and that is the only thing I have right now," he says. "And that’s a lot because it gives me my motivation to get up every day, go out and try my hardest to make this experience my last experience, and to really come out of this.”

You May Like

Mugabe Dismisses Male-Female Equality

'It is not possible that women can be at par with men' incoming African Union president declares on eve of summit More

Somali Terror Suspect's Light Sentence Raises Questions

Abdullahi Yusuf, 18, could have spent 15 years in prison but judge instead sentenced him to a halfway house, and a program to try to integrate him back into the community More

Video Kobani Ravaged Following Kurdish Ouster of IS Militants

Even so, hundreds of refugees sheltering in Turkey seek to return; Kurdish forces hold some back, saying fighting continues More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Productioni
X
George Putic
January 29, 2015 9:43 PM
The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Production

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Crowded Republican Presidential Field Off to Early Start for 2016

It seems early, but the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign is already heating up. Though no one has officially announced a candidacy, several potential Republican contenders have been busy speaking to conservative groups about making a White House run next year. Many of the possible contenders are critical of the Obama administration’s foreign policy record. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid