D.C. Homeless Services Law Revision Continues

The second meeting to discuss revision of D.C.’s Homeless Services Reform Act (HSRA) was held by the D.C. Interagency Council on Homelessness (ICH) on June 21. The coalition is now referring to their initiative as the “modernization” of the act, in order to demonstrate that the needs and size of the homeless community in the District has changed since the legislation was crafted in 2005.

This meeting, similar to  the July 7 gathering, centered abstractly on issues of homelessness, in order to pinpoint major focuses that will be discussed in future “deep dive” meetings. The coalition — which was comprised of representatives from the Department of Human Services (DHS), the ICH, the D.C. Public Library, nonprofit providers of services and individual “consumers” of services—broke up into three focus groups to discuss legal definitions, provider responsibilities, and client rights and responsibilities. Each subgroup was able to report back at the end of the meeting so that everyone could weigh in on these topics.

Going forward, the coalition has a structured timeline intended to efficiently get a draft to D.C. Council. A final meeting mirroring the one held on July 21 was held during the ICH Strategic Planning Committee meeting time on July 26. After the first HRSA modernization meeting, the original act was made available online for public comment and markup on  http:///drafts.dc.gov. The comment period was advertised to last through Friday July 22. However, it remained available when Street Sense went to press on July 26. At that time, three people had interacted with the bill, making a total of five annotations.

One of three public comments left on the post by DraftsDC.gov user J F said “It’s also tremendously disappointing that I can find no announcement that this was published on this site anywhere but [an] article on StreetSense.org. It is not on the DHS Twitter or Facebook, the [Deputy Mayor of Health and Human Services] Twitter or website, the Mayor’s Twitter, or the Mayor’s Office Twitter, the District of Columbia Interagency Council on Homelessness website, or anywhere else one might expect it. And there is no mention anywhere on this page of the four public feedback meetings or the matter that public comment on this site ends in 7 days (July 22nd). This should be a huge embarrassment to everyone involved.”

Another user, Seamus Craft, commented to thank the city for “working on this important issue with residents of D.C.”

The ICH’s ultimate goal is to draft a package to bring before D.C. Council by September. The next scheduled meeting is set for 1 – 5 p.m. on August 11, 2016 at DHS Headquarters, 64 New York Avenue NE. Additional meetings and schedule changes to be updated on the ICH website,  http://ich.dc.gov/event.

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