More than 1,000 children and their parents live in the District's homeless shelters, but a new homeless prevention program is helping keep those numbers from getting any worse.
The Preventing Homeless program partners with non-profits in the community to help families avoid entering shelters by finding them housing, counseling and job training.
“When we talk about ending homelessness, it means it’s rare, it’s brief, it’s nonrecurring,” D.C. Department of Human Services Director Laura Zeilinger said. “Making it rare means we need to prevent it whenever possible.”
Larry Long Jr. was living on his grandmother’s couch with his 4-year-old daughter – one step away from homelessness – before he heard about the program.
“Her not having her own room, her own space,” he said. “Every young lady should have their own personal space.”
Now they have their own home, and he can focus on getting a better job. He’s doing odd jobs while taking classes to become a heating and air conditioning technician, and he set his sights beyond just a job.
“I have to have my own business, it’s only right,” Long said. “That’s why I work hard everyday.”
His daughter has her own room and bathroom, now.
“She loves it, man. She really loves it,” Long said. “She runs all over the place. She has all her books. She’s happy. She’s real happy.”
In the first eight months of the Preventing Homeless program, more than 1,000 families at risk of becoming homeless have found stable housing.