Homelessness in the District is down by more than 10 percent from last year, but nearly 7,500 people remain homeless in the city, according to officials combating this issue daily.
Shelters have different policies and programs to help the homeless become a part of society again. Many of them provide shelter, food and employment opportunities to get the homeless back on their feet.
This is a brief guide to some of the most populated shelters in the city.
Based in Northwest D.C., Thrive DC takes in both men and women. It is open Monday through Friday, from 8:30-11 a.m. and from 3-6 p.m. Thrive doesn’t provide overnight stays.
They also provide food services, access to a computer lab, employment assistance, substance abuse help, a re-entry program for women and therapy programs.
In 2016, Thrive DC provided the following to D.C.’s homeless population:
- 4,600 showers
- Mail delivery for more than 1,000 homeless people
- 1,900 loads of laundry
- 137,000 meals
They also have programs like Fresh Food Fridays, a food market where those in need can get fresh, healthier eating options.
In addition to healthy eating, Thrive also helps the homeless achieve a healthy home lifestyle. They provide help finding affordable housing for those in need.
“A lot of people are living month to month, and they just get pushed over the edge,” said Greg Rockwell, community relations manager of Thrive DC.
Thrive’s job assistance program “Step Up” has helped nearly 30 people get jobs so far this year.
Central Union Mission
Central Union Mission, also known as The Mission, is a non-profit shelter that is privately funded and offers six locations throughout the metropolitan area. The Mission is a faith-based help center for the homeless.
This shelter is open 24 hours a day and provides the following resources for men:
- Emergency Shelter — provides men with beds to sleep in
- Spiritual Transformation Program — a residential rehab program
- Workforce Development — job/trade training
- Food Services — providing three meals per day for the homeless
- Community Services — offering programs in the community to help the homeless
- Family Program — vocational support for families
The Mission provides overnight stays and other chances for men to get back on their feet. Chaplain Rev. William Spence said The Mission doesn’t put men back on the street if they show they want to be a working member of society.
“Men can stay here as long as they want as long as we can see progression toward saving money and getting a job,” Spence said. “We have men that stay here nightly after they come from work, and they can continue to come here as long as they are working themselves back into society.”
Men who have been through any of The Mission’s shelter programs have been able to get back on their feet and rely on alumni of these programs to help them through any problems they may have.
“The best evangelist for them is another man that’s been through the program and can help them see what a better life is like, even if it’s only for one night,” said David Treadwell, executive director of The Mission.
The Mission’s next initiative is focus on homeless women and children by getting them off of the streets and into a safe shelter.