Tag: Laura Zeilinger

D.C. Council eyes overhaul of shelter plan

A supermajority of the D.C. Council announced plans to overhaul Mayor Muriel Bowser’s proposed shelter plan, citing “a waste of tax dollars” as a primary reason. The Council shared details of their own proposal (WaPo, 5/16):

Instead, the city would build five shelters on public land and empower Bowser (D) to purchase property or use eminent domain to take control of two others. The city would save about $165 million compared with the mayor’s plan, [Council Chairman Phil] Mendelson said.


Mendelson said the council’s plan would locate more families closer to Metro and other transit options, and streamline zoning approvals so the city’s dilapidated shelter at D.C. General might be able to close in two years. Most important, taxpayers would realize significant savings, he said.

D.C. is Reaching Hundreds of Families Before They Become Homeless (WCP, 5/16)

PHILANTHROPY | Exponent Philanthropy shares this open letter to foundations stressing the importance of nonprofit infrastructure organizations. (PhilanthroFiles, 5/17)

POVERTYConsumer Health Foundation‘s Kendra Allen discusses updates to D.C.’s looming TANF cliff with D.C. Department of Human Services Director Laura Zeilinger. (CHF, 5/16)

TRANSIT/REGIONA higher tax for Metro? Regionwide campaign to back dedicated funding expected in the fall (WBJ, 5/16)

YOUTH/CRIMINAL JUSTICE | Children’s Law Center recently sat down with former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to discuss the District’s changing landscape for young people and his thoughts on how the D.C. justice system has improved for them over the years. (Children’s Law Center, 5/16)

Are you a picky eater? It’s not your fault. You can blame science for that.

– Ciara

Fixing the rapid rehousing program

As part of their new study, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) took a closer look at the rapid rehousing program and found it to only be a temporary fix for families in need, rather than a viable solution. While some agencies disagree with HUD’s findings, they can agree that more work could be done to improve the program. (NPR, 7/7)

“Rapid rehousing is not a magic solution,” [Jennifer Ho, senior adviser on housing and services at HUD] says.

Her agency has found that families that get rapid rehousing are just as likely later on to face the same housing problems as families that stay in shelters: Many of them end up returning to a homeless shelter, doubling up with family and friends or moving from place to place.


Laura Zeilinger, Washington, D.C.’s new director of human services, says some of the complaints about the program are legitimate. In the past, she says, the city sometimes used rapid rehousing in a punitive way, as a stick to motivate families to get work, even though they clearly needed more help.

She’s trying to change that, Zeilinger says, “to really support families differently, to say we really believe in your potential to be able to make it in the long run and we are here with you to support you in doing so.”

This includes providing other services, such as job training and education, that people need to be able to afford their own place.

She and others in the field take issue with some of HUD’s findings, noting that the study looks at only 12 communities, over a limited time period. And, Zeilinger says, there are few alternatives. Ho, of HUD, agrees that the goal is to improve rapid rehousing, not to replace it.

– On the heels of their recent annual meeting, Consumer Health Foundation president and WRAG board member, Dr. Yanique Redwood, builds on a powerful metaphor that was presented at the event about systemic racism and its far-reaching and long-lasting effects. (CHF, 7/6)

– A new report from the Women Donors Network finds significant gender and racial disparities in the number of local and state prosecutors across the country. The study comes about at a time when much attention has been given to the lack of diversity in many police forces, while very little has been placed on the lack of diversity elsewhere within the criminal justice system. (NYT, 7/7)

HEALTH | Opinion: Brian Castrucci of the de Beaumont Foundation looks at the U.S. healthcare system’s tendency to focus on treatment over prevention and how illness is all too often incentivized. (HuffPo, 7/2)

PHILANTHROPY | Opinion: In Search of the Magic Formula for Philanthropy (Chronicle, 7/6)

Have you ever wondered who started referring to the greater Washington area as the “DMV?”

– Ciara


Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments releases new annual report on homelessness in the region

Though there were a number of reports over the last few months that pointed toward disappointing numbers, newly-released results from the annual point-in-time homelessness count found that the Greater Washington region saw a 2.7 percent decrease in homelessness from last year. Despite the slight drop, there is still much room for improvement. (WaPo, 5/13)

The tally, released Wednesday, confirmed a continued crisis of homelessness in the Washington region evident to almost anyone who lives, works or visits the city’s downtown core during winter, when homeless men and women amass in entrances to Metro stops and many other spots where they can stay warm. It also may have understated the challenge still faced by D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D), who has vowed to end chronic homelessness in the city.

Much of the overall dip resulted from a 300-person drop in homeless parents and children in D.C. shelters on the night of the count.

But unlike last year, when the number of homeless families peaked near the date of the 2014 federal count, this year several hundred entered shelter or were placed in overflow motel rooms in the District throughout February, March and even early April.


Beyond the District, numbers of homeless families also surged this winter in the city of Alexandria and in Fairfax, Frederick and Montgomery counties. Given that trend, few on Wednesday celebrated the slight decrease in the total from last year’s count.

The data comes from the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments new annual report, Homelessness in Metropolitan Washington.

–  D.C. Department of Human Services Director Laura Zeilinger spoke on the District’s own six percent decrease in homeless residents, stating that a celebration of the results would be too premature, “because there are still far too many people [who are homeless.] (City Paper, 5/13) 

Southeast D.C. facility for homeless veterans gets a boost (WaPo, 5/13)

WRAG/PHILANTHROPY | Interested in following the conversation from WRAG’s first-ever Loudoun County Philanthropy Conference? Check out the hashtag #FundLoudoun on Twitter to see what panelists and participants are saying.

NONPROFITS | Next month, the Center for Nonprofit Advancement, in partnership with the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, will hold a new, four-part communications series/training for leaders of nonprofits based in or serving residents of wards 7 or 8. The multi-day training seeks to help organizations strengthen their voices and raise awareness about issues affecting residents east of the river. For more information on how to register, click here.

Opinion: A number of emerging new studies are examining the long-term effects of government programs like the earned-income tax credit, Medicaid, SNAP, and more, on families. Though data can only go back so far, there is evidence that children whose families received benefits have better outcomes as they enter their 20s and 30s than those whose families were denied benefits. (NYT, 5/11)

Obama Urges Liberals and Conservatives to Unite on Poverty (NYT, 5/12)

How well can you read the emotions of others? Sometimes it’s all in the eyes! Take this quiz to see if you can tell what these people are thinking.

– Ciara