DC Fiscal Year 2023 Budget funds PSH, underfunds urgent housing needs
Yesterday, the DC Council finalized DC’s Fiscal Year 2023 budget. Thanks to our collective advocacy, we are thrilled to share that this final budget preserves Mayor Bowser’s proposed investments to end chronic homelessness for 500 individuals and 260 families. Keep reading for our further analysis of these budget wins and to learn more about our priorities for the coming months.
Specifically, DC’s final Fiscal Year 2023 Budget will:
- End chronic homelessness for 500 individuals and 260 families through Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH)
- Double funding for Project Reconnect, DC’s program for preventing single adult homelessness
- Increase funding for homeless street outreach
- Invest $450 million in the Housing Production Trust Fund (HPTF); and
- Fund increases to other housing voucher programs (including 400 Targeted Affordable Housing vouchers for families and 60 Local Rent Supplement Program vouchers)
Funding for PSH remains
When combined with the historic investments in last year’s budget, DC will end chronic homelessness for over 2,800 individuals. This means that over 2,800 of our neighbors who have been living outside, in tents, and in shelter for years at a time will now have a warm bed to sleep in, their own door to lock, and a safe place to call home. We thank Mayor Bowser for fully funding our recommendations in her budget proposal and we thank the DC Council for preserving these investments. This proves that our advocacy works and that the movement to end chronic homelessness in DC is stronger than ever.
Additional funding for individuals experiencing homelessness and more!
The Council largely maintained Mayor Bowser’s funding for homeless street outreach and the Housing Product Trust Fund (HPTF). Now, the Council must ensure that both of these items are used for their intended purposes. That means Street Outreach must be used to connect people with housing, not to displace encampments. Similarly, the HPTF must be laser-focused on building housing for our lowest-income neighbors, not on building more housing for middle-income residents.
These wins are because of you!
All of this funding happened because of our collective power and is a direct result of your advocacy and the advocacy of our 110 partner organizations and over 7,000 individual supporters. Thank you to everybody who contacted their elected officials, attended our events, and spoke up about the possibility and urgency of ending chronic homelessness.
Failure to address dire low-income housing crisis
Unfortunately, neither the mayor nor the DC Council released budgets that meet the needs of the over 40,000 households who are in dire need of low-income housing. Skyrocketing rent and stagnating wages drive an affordable housing crisis in which many of our neighbors living on low or no incomes will face an elevated risk of displacement, eviction or homelessness. Let us be clear: DC will not end chronic homelessness or any other type of homelessness until we move upstream and address our dire lack of low-income housing. In this metric, DC’s budget is woefully lacking.
While the budget certainly could and should have done more for housing justice, we are confident that our advocacy moved the needle towards ending chronic homelessness. DC’s Fiscal Year 2023 budget includes significant funding for Permanent Supportive Housing and many other vital programs dedicated to ending chronic homelessness.
As budget season winds down, we want to share 4 other topics that we are keeping in mind:
Despite being 75% through Fiscal Year 2022, only 10% of the 2,300 Permanent Supportive Housing Vouchers we won last year have been used. This means that nearly two thousand people who have been matched to a voucher, their ticket for exiting homelessness, continue to live outside or in shelter. This is simply unacceptable. We call on DHS and DCHA to expedite all processes for turning vouchers into keys. We will release a compiled list of our implementation recommendations in the coming weeks.
Earlier this week, the DC Government evicted an encampment with just 3 hours notice. On June 1st, the National Parks Service is set to evict the encampment in front of Union Station without connecting people to housing or other services. And across DC, businesses are utilizing hostile architecture to keep unhoused people from accessing public space. Encampment evictions do nothing to end homelessness. In fact, by destroying trust, displacing residents, and wasting resources, clearing encampments makes ending homelessness ever harder. DC must stop evicting encampments and instead focus on getting people the housing and services that meet their needs, without artificial timeliness, bulldozers, or police.
3. Holding the Housing Production Accountable
Mayor Bowser’s budget includes historic investments in the Housing Production Trust Fund, (HPTF) DC’s main tool for building low-income housing. While the HPTF has produced some low-income housing, it has never met its statutory requirements to devote 50% of its funding to housing for households living on no or very little income. In practice, the HPTF operates as taxpayer-funded slush fund for developers. The Council must exercise their full power, both legislatively and via oversight, to ensure that the HPTF is used for its intended purpose, to create housing for DC’s lowest-income residents.
4. Sunsetting of COVID-Era Human Service Protections
In response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, DC created many programs to meet the pressing (and long-standing) needs of our neighbors experiencing homelessness. This included 24-hour shelter operations, hotels for people to get off the streets and out of crowded shelters as they await housing, and handwashing stations and restrooms at encampments. Unfortunately, DC plans to sunset all these programs in the coming months. Eliminating these programs will harm residents experiencing homelessness, increase risk of COVID-19for our unhoused neighbors, and set DC back on our overall goal of ending
Thank you to everybody who contacted their elected officials, attended our events, and spoke up about the possibility and urgency of ending chronic homelessness. These budget wins would not have been possible without you! To stay plugged into our work, make sure to follow us on twitter, instagram, and facebook for updates and action alerts.