Homeless services for individuals do not meet demand

Signs at McPherson Square on Feb. 15. Photo by Annemarie Cuccia.

D.C is unable to meet the full housing demand of individuals experiencing homelessness, according to the city’s Interagency Council on Homelessness Director Theresa Silla. Testifying at an oversight hearing on Feb. 23, Silla said the city would have to house 3,400 people a year for the next six years to end individual homelessness locally. 

Since 2016, D.C. has cut family homelessness by 80%. The city was able to do this, Silla argued, because it helps house hundreds more families each year than are counted in the annual Point-In-Time Count, which measures the number of families experiencing homelessness on any given night. Or, as Silla put it, “supply meets demand.” 

The city is much slower at helping individuals experiencing homelessness. In 2022, the city housed fewer people than were identified in the Point-In-Time Count. The survey counted 3,400 people experiencing homelessness, but over the year only 1,200 individuals moved into housing. 

“Supply, who we are housing, is not meeting demand,” Silla said. “When you look at the singles scope, as compared to the family side, we’re nowhere near [it].”

A graph showing far more people were served in the D.C. homeless services system in 2022 than exited homelessness.
Data shared by D.C.’s Interagency Council on Homelessness at the Feb. 23 oversight hearing. Graph by Athiyah Azeem.

Over the last few years, D.C. funded 3,000 vouchers to house individuals, but a lack of staff means only 860 people have moved into housing. The city’s outreach and housing programs likely wouldn’t be able to handle funding to house the 3,400 people each year that Silla thinks would bring D.C. closer to ending homelessness.  

“Our capacity constraints are real, our existing workforce is exhausted from the pressure of the pandemic,” Silla said.

Issues |DC Budget|Housing|Housing Vouchers

Region |Washington DC

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