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What does our advocacy agenda include?
Our advocacy agenda seeks to accomplish the following goals:
FY 2013 City Budget:
- The Housing Production Trust Fund (Cut by $18 million in FY12 and $19.9 million in FY13)
- Restore the FY12 $18 million cut with supplemental revenue money FY12
- Restore the FY13 $19.9 million cut by keeping the restoration at its current place on the Mayor’s priority list in the Budget Support Act of 2012
- Fill the $7 million dollar gap in the Department of Human Services’ homeless service line item with local dollars in the FY13 budget
- Ensure that the language in the Budget Support Act currently stating that no new vouchers will be issued for the LRS and Housing First programs is removed, and urge the Council to include language stating that new vouchers will be issued when available
1) Increase the number of Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) units in the city to house those experiencing chronic homelessness.
- In April of 2010, the city developed the Strategic Plan to End Homelessness which includes the goal of developing and/or subsidizing at least 2,500 new units of PSH to address homelessness in DC. We urge the District government to meet its targets for PSH production set in the strategic plan. One way to do this is to include PSH units in all publically supported large scale development projects. Doing so assures that new units of supportive housing will be produced regularly, moving the city toward achieving its overall production goal.
- We also recognize that the initial production target for PSH developed in 2004 needs to be updated and reflect the most current data on homelessness in the city. Therefore, we urge the District of Columbia’s Interagency Council on Homelessness as well as the DC Comprehensive Housing Strategy Task Force to reassess the estimate of need for the number of supportive housing units it will take to effectively house those who are chronically homeless.
2) Increase affordable housing stock in the city to meet the needs of residents with extremely low income in the District of Columbia.
- Affordable housing is our guests’ number one request. While Permanent Supportive Housing has proven to be successful in housing our most vulnerable, disabled guests, other housing needs can be met with less intensive services. Many housing assistance programs target those persons categorized as having extremely low income.
- Approximately 85 % of our guests have a monthly income of $1000 or less. The current fair market rent for an efficiency in D.C. is $1,166. Our guests cannot afford to live in the city without the critical support from housing assistance programs in DC. Unfortunately, there is a severe shortage of affordable housing units targeted for this specific population. Since 2000, the District has lost approximately 23,700 units of affordable rental housing. With more than 40,000 individuals currently on the waiting list for placement in affordable housing, we urge the city to increase funding to critical affordable housing programs that provide the necessary financing for the creation of affordable housing units to meet the needs of those with extremely low income.
3) Improve service delivery within the District of Columbia’s Continuum of Care system to ensure that it is effectively able to transition individuals experiencing homelessness into housing as quickly as possible, and prevent persons from becoming homeless.
- We engage in advocacy for improved service delivery in the following areas:
i. Better transportation services for individuals who are homeless
ii. Developing a thorough winter plan for implementation during the extremely low temperatures of hypothermia season to respond to the needs of the homeless community residing in low-barrier shelters or on the street
iii. Improving shelter conditions and advocating for the need for smaller shelters that are able to offer more enhanced services because of decreased case load
iv. Effectively utilizing both federal and local dollars to prevent homelessness and quickly assist those experiencing it
How do we choose our priorities?
We annually establish a public policy agenda that is primarily informed by input from our guests and addresses specific needs to help them transition from homelessness into housing. Our policy agenda has a particular focus on permanent supportive housing in the District because we believe that housing is the primary solution to chronic homelessness. However, it is not limited to PSH. Our policy agenda also includes advocacy to ensure that effective systems exist to provide services to the city’s most vulnerable residents.
Miriam’s Kitchen’s policy agenda is determined through the following process:
1) Case management relationships with our guests: By working closely with our guests, the case management team knows intimately the biggest obstacles our guests face in their lives. That information is then shared with the advocacy department.
2) Annual advocacy survey and focus groups with Miriam’s Kitchen’s guest community: The survey provides an empirical method for us to collect and analyze data to give us an informed sense of our guests’ most pressing needs. Small group discussions with our guests are an additional way to identify their biggest concerns. These group discussions also provide the opportunity to get feedback about proposed plausible solutions.
3) All-staff and Board of Directors dialogue: We take the information learned from our case managers and the data we compile and identify the most urgent issue(s) for our guests and how to best move forward. We then share that information with our Board.
4) Engagement with broader advocacy community about priorities: After the internal dialogue is complete, we discuss our agenda with some of our strongest advocacy allies. We believe in order to be successful in our work, it is critical to share our agenda with others for the purposes of effective collaboration.
 From the District of Columbia’s Strategic Plan to End Homelessness.
 For more information, refer to the Coalition on Housing and Nonprofit Development’s Supportive Housing Working Group’s Policy Paper, available at: “Recommendation for Inclusion of PSH in Large Scale Projects.pdf”
 From the U.S. Department of Urban Development’s “FY2012 Fair Market Rents and FY2011 Income Limits Summary System” Available here.