This morning, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced a new Downtown Day Service Center for the homeless. The mayor confirmed the city’s commitment to make homelessness “rare, brief, and nonrecurring” in the District.
The new center will be housed in the Presbyterian Church at 1313 New York Ave NW. Moya Design Partners has been selected to do the interior architecture for the project including graphics and visual design, as well as some branding work and the project’s website.
“As architects and responsible citizens, it is an honor for our firm to contribute to the support of people experiencing homelessness in Washington, D.C.,” said Paola Moya, CEO & Founder of Moya Design Partners. “We are committed to providing services to those in need. The MOYA team is privileged to be part of projects that address solutions to our most vulnerable communities.”
Since taking office, Mayor Bowser has introduced several initiatives to prevent and alleviate homelessness, including:
Increasing investments in permanent housing programs;
Developing interim eligibility to provide immediate shelter for families in crisis; and
Launching Solid Foundations DC, a plan to prevent and end youth homelessness by 2022
These programs have helped more than 2,700 families avoid prolonged homelessness and have connected more than 1,800 veterans to permanent housing. In addition, Solid Foundations DC calls for an increase in the number of beds for young people with resources for rapid re-housing. It’s the city’s first ever data-driven plan for the needs of unaccompanied youth.
The new Day Service Center is an outreach program of the DowntownDC Business Improvement District (BID) and Pathways to Housing DC. For over twenty years, @DowntownDCBID and @PathwaysDC have provided street-level homeless intervention and services. They promote a pragmatic, street-to-independence model known as Housing First. Endorsed by the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, Housing First promotes stability through rapid housing and supportive services.
The Downtown Day Service Center will meet the twin goals of expanding D.C.’s Housing First programs and increasing the network of service providers. Youth and adults will be able to stay for a few hours, receive necessities, and connect with resources and peers. They’ll have access to kitchens, showers, laundry, board games, TV, movies, and books. The drop-in center will foster close connections between participants and the community.
In addition to daily necessities, the center will provide frontline health services. “Chronic mental health issues amongst the older homeless population is something that’s pretty common and you expect it,” said Pam Lieber, a staff member at the nearby First Church youth drop-in. It’s also a need their team sees in young people. United Healthcare and the DC Department of Employment Services have already signed on to provide services at the new downtown center.
And services won’t end when participants walk out the door. Drop-in centers provide snack packs for people to take with them. They hold events like Thanksgiving dinners and ‘scarf, hat, and glove’ drives to help participants stay warm outdoors.
To reach those who may not attend drop-ins, mobile health units will continue to comb the city. For example, Sasha Bruce Youthwork connects with young people. Their van is packed with snacks, condoms, water, and other supplies. They also offer free HIV testing.