A New Way for D.C. Businesses to Help End Homelessness
The proposed Homeless Services Reform Amendment Act of 2017 would add representatives from philanthropic organizations and local businesses to the D.C. Interagency Council on Homelessness.
Currently, the 38 voting members of the ICH represent government agencies, homeless individuals and advocates, service providers, and the Continuum of Care. Together, they implement the city’s strategic plan to end homelessness.
If it passes, several new seats would allow businesses to weigh in on policy decisions to assist homeless individuals and families.
The D.C. Business Improvement District has been working with the city on solutions to homelessness since it was founded in 1998, and already invests $75,000 each year in homeless services outreach.
“[The HSRA Amendment] would be formalizing a partnership that has been there for a long time,” said Natalie Avery, director of the D.C. BID. “It enables us to educate and engage stakeholders in being a part of the solution.”
Kristy Greenwalt, director of the ICH, sees the solution to ending homelessness beyond government funding and decision making. Her vision for the ICH is to include universities, hospitals, local partners, philanthropic organizations, businesses, and even landlords for an all-inclusive approach to ending homelessness.
More flexible funding is needed and government funding is unpredictable, Greenwalt said. Beyond funding, she is equally interested in the insight, commitment and networks these business leaders would bring to the table.
“No one agency, no one sector can end homelessness,” said Greenwalt. “Each have different parts to play.”