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July 13, 2015 / Ciara Myers, Editor

Experimenting toward a solution to end homelessness

A large-scale study on homelessness by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and Vanderbilt University is examining different methods of helping homeless families to determine which method has been most effective. The study is currently at the halfway mark and is finding that one method is particularly successful (Atlantic, 7/11):

The research is following families who were given different types of housing assistance. The first group received a Housing Choice Voucher (commonly known as Section 8), which provided them with a subsidy for permanent housing. The second group was given temporary rental assistance for housing in the private market, an option known in the housing world as rapid rehousing. The third group received time-limited housing in a setting that included services like medical assistance and counseling. The fourth group received the usual type of interventions that a homeless family would be given, such as some time in emergency shelters and whatever housing assistance they can find on their own.

After 18 months, families using the Housing Choice Vouchers are doing much better than those who received traditional interventions. Children in the families that were given vouchers moved schools much less frequently than they otherwise would have. These families spent less time in shelters, parents had fewer health problems and lower incidences of domestic violence, and they were mentally more stable than those who received typical interventions.

AFFORDABLE HOUSING/TRANSPORTATION | Affordability in the Washington DC Region: The Growing Burden of Housing Plus Transportation Costs (Helping Hands Blog, 7/8)

Related: In 2013, WRAG published What Funders Need to Know: Housing, that focused on how transportation costs factor into affordable housing for our region’s residents.

ECONOMY/MARYLAND | In Frederick, MD, thousands of residents commute each day to jobs outside of the city. As low-wage jobs abound within Frederick, a student group has researched ways to grow the city’s employment opportunities and improve commuting into nearby areas. (GGW, 7/9)

VETERANS | Recently, The Kojo Nnamdi Show took a look at some of the many challenges facing military families and veterans in the Washington region. Click here to listen to the audio from the show. (WAMU, 7/9)

Related: Last year, WRAG published What Funders Need to Know: Veterans, about the unique characteristics and circumstances for post-9/11 veterans.

YOUTH/WORKFORCE | Starbucks and a number of other corporations have announced the 100,000 Opportunities Initiative aimed at finding jobs for 100,000 unemployed young people over the next three years. The program is in response to the rapid decline in employment opportunities among American youth. (NYT, 7/13)

AGING | The AARP Foundation, the Calvert Foundation, and Capital Impact Partners have recently launched the Age Strong Initiative that seeks to invest more than $70 million into organizations providing solutions for older, low income Americans. You can read more about the new initiative here.

– New data on student progress at Montgomery County public schools points to persistently wide achievement gaps in math and reading. (WaPo,7/12)

The Need to Better Manage DCPS School Modernization (DCFPI, 7/13)

Happy 30th birthday, .org!

– Ciara

July 10, 2015 / Ciara Myers, Editor

Friday roundup – July 6 through July 10, 2015

Consumer Health Foundation (CHF) president and WRAG board member, Dr. Yanique Redwood, built upon a strong metaphor that was shared at the recent CHF annual meeting. (CHF, 7/6)

Opinion: Brian Castrucci of the de Beaumont Foundation examined how the U.S. healthcare system tends to focus more on treatment over prevention. (HuffPo, 7/2)

Opinion: Paying People to Be Healthy Usually Works, if the Public Can Stomach It (NYT, 7/6)

– Data on student mobility in the District’s public schools shows that there are extraordinarily high rates of transient students, presenting a challenge for youth enrolled in DCPS. (WaPo, 7/4)

Poverty rates in every U.S. school district, in one map (WaPo, 7/8)

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


Loudoun Philanthropy: Next steps for developing a strong social sector (Open to the community)
Tuesday, July 14  1:00 pm – 3:00 pm

CEO Coffee & Conversation: Bruce McNamer, new president & CEO of the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region (WRAG Member CEOs and CEO-equivalents only)
Wednesday, July 15  9:00 am – 10:30 am

Do you like going to the beach, but hate the sand? Try this one instead.

– Ciara

July 9, 2015 / Ciara Myers, Editor

How much $100 will buy you in the Washington region

Using data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the Tax Foundation has analyzed just how much $100 would get you in goods in each state and the District. (WBJ, 7/9)

D.C. fared the worst of our three regions, where $100 will only buy you $84.96 worth of goods.

In Maryland, you can get $90.17 for your Benjamin.

Virginia, you get the most bang for your buck locally. That $100 bill will buy you $97.09.

On the flip side, $100 buys you more than its value. In Mississippi, for example, you’ll get $115.21 worth of goods.

– As homebuyers and investors look to stay on top of what D.C.’s next up-and-coming neighborhood will be, many are finding themselves in Anacostia. (WBJ, 7/9)

– D.C.’s demographics have shifted dramatically over the last several years. As trends continue, some longtime residents and city leaders disagree on whether or not the growth has been a delight or a detriment for some. (WaPo, 7/8)

Affordable live/work spaces are a big draw for D.C.’s artists (WaPo, 7/7)

– The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced efforts to require communities across the country to review their housing patterns in order to promote more racial diversity in neighborhoods. (WaPo, 7/8)

The new rules, a top demand of civil-rights groups, will require cities and towns all over the country to scrutinize their housing patterns for racial bias and to publicly report, every three to five years, the results. Communities will also have to set goals, which will be tracked over time, for how they will further reduce segregation.

EDUCATION/HEALTH | A new study supports the idea that higher education is connected to greater health outcomes, and finds that the correlation between education and health has become stronger with recent generations. (NPR, 7/8)

Opinion: For many transgender Americans, employment prospects are very slim due to discrimination and varying laws to protect them in the workforce across the country. While some jurisdictions have taken measures to legally protect employees, there’s still a long way to go. (NYT, 7/9)

– More Immigration Means Higher Wages for All Workers (City Lab, 7/7)

Anyone can run for president. Even 5-year-old Mr. McCubbins.

– Ciara

July 8, 2015 / Ciara Myers, Editor

New data on average household income by Metro station

Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority has released new data on the average household income of Metrorail riders by line and station. The visualization also shows how income levels rise and dip at various times throughout the day (GGW, 7/7):

You can see the Washington region’s wide range of income levels in the data visualization, which uses data from Metro’s 2012 rider survey. This visualization is different from similar ones in that it uses self-reported data from Metrorail riders.

A high quality transit system is a key to ensuring opportunities for people of every socioeconomic status.

– Loudoun Schools fight hunger through summer meal program (Loudoun Times, 7/7)

Related: Interested in learning more about the needs of Loudoun County? Join WRAG on Tuesday, July 14 at 1:00 PM for Loudoun Philanthropy: Next steps for developing a strong social sector. This meeting is open to the community and is supported by the Claude Moore Charitable Foundation, the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia, the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, and the Middleburg Community Center. Click here to find out how to register.

– Can you afford to retire in Loudoun County? (Loudoun Times, 7/8)

AFFORDABLE HOUSING | In Arlington County, a new citizen’s group is concerned about the discrepancies in where the county’s additional affordable housing units will be clustered. The group worries that there are disproportionate numbers of affordable housing being built in certain areas, which will lead to a great deal of socioeconomic segregation. (ARLnow, 7/7)

PHILANTHROPY | The Center for Effective Philanthropy has released a new publication, Investing and Social Impact: Practices of Private Foundations, which takes a look at the state of practice of impact investing and negative screening at large, private U.S.-based foundations. (CEP, 5/2015)

– EdBuild has released a new interactive map that displays the poverty rates in each of the school districts in the United States. You can access the map here. (WaPo, 7/8)

– The Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) released a new report on the differences in the quality of preparation students in high-poverty schools receive compared with students in low-poverty schools. The study, Course, Counselor, and Teacher Gaps: Addressing the College Readiness Challenge in High-Poverty High Schoolsanalyzes 100 of the largest school districts in the U.S. (PND, 7/5)

COMMUNITY | The Foundation Center offers a multi-functional training facility for rent for groups looking to host meetings, conferences, seminars, or computer-based training programs. For more information, click here.

Are your reusable grocery bags making you buy more cookies?

– Ciara

July 7, 2015 / Ciara Myers, Editor

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


July 6, 2015 / Ciara Myers, Editor

Resources run low for seniors in need

In D.C., individuals over the age of 60 make up a growing number of the population. As a large portion of those seniors experience hunger, resources are not currently available to meet demands (WAMU, 7/3):

About 16 percent of the District’s population is over 60. That’s about 107,000 people. Roughly half of them access some type of social service through the District’s Office on Aging [DCOA]. But a much-needed program to feed some of our most vulnerable neighbors may have run out of money.


DCOA says that new enrollments for the delivery program are on temporary hold, but an additional $200,000 has been secured for next fiscal year. The agency says eligible seniors can access other food sources such as free vouchers for grocery stores and farmer’s markets as well free lunches at 52 centers.

The Catch-22 is that many of the seniors who are eligible for home meal delivery can’t access those other options, which is precisely why they qualify for home meal delivery.

COMMUNITY | The Community Foundation for Northern Virginia welcomes their new board chair, Paul Leslie, CEO of Dovel Technologies. Leslie replaces WRAG Vice Chair and Deputy Executive Director of Giving at the Claude Moore Charitable Foundation, K. Lynn Tadlock.

HEALTH | Opinion: Paying People to Be Healthy Usually Works, if the Public Can Stomach It (NYT, 7/6)

EDUCATION/YOUTH | Experts point to extraordinarily high rates of transient students as one factor that makes schooling more difficult for youth enrolled in DCPS. (WaPo, 7/4)

PHILANTHROPY | As Greece struggles with a financial crisis, there are some lessons philanthropy can learn from the ongoing situation. (Spear’s, 7/1)

How do you usually spend your time?

– Ciara

July 2, 2015 / Ciara Myers, Editor

The persistent effects of housing discrimination

The Daily WRAG will return to your inbox on Monday. Until then, have a great weekend.

The Urban Institute has released a new interactive map that shows how neighborhoods across the country have been shaped by income inequality between 1990 and 2010. According to data from the Neighborhood Change Database used to develop the map, exclusionary housing practices have largely kept low-income families in disadvantaged neighborhoods that are very difficult to escape. (City Lab, 6/29)

Nationwide, the top 10 percent of income earners live apart from the bottom 10 percent of earners. From 1990 through 2010, the neighborhoods where the wealthiest Americans live have remained relatively fixed. Meanwhile, tracts where the poorest Americans live have shifted and expanded over time—and grown poorer, too.

Exclusionary and discriminatory housing policies are one of the main tools that wealthy Americans have used to maintain wealthy neighborhoods. These bastions of prosperity enable them to consolidate, protect, and pass on their wealth.

LGBT/YOUTH | Children’s National Health Center has opened a new clinic geared toward providing specialized care and services to LGBTQ youth between the ages of 12 to 22. LGBTQ youth programming at the center is also supported by the Washington AIDS Partnership. (DCist, 7/2)

REGION | The Brookings Institution offers a profile of how young adults in the Washington region are faring within the vital areas of education, employment, and income. The analysis uses Census data on young adults between the ages of 18 to 24. (Brookings, 6/30)

PHILANTHROPY | Opinion: Charleston, Health Care, Gay Marriage, and More: Why Advocacy Matters (Chronicle, 7/1)

DISTRICT/EDUCATION | According to a new report for fiscal years 2010 through 2013 by the Office of the District of Columbia Auditor, the city has not sufficiently monitored the School Modernization Financing Act despite its passing in 2006, leading to a number of violations and the improper use of funds. (WaPo, 7/1)

There are many ways to make guacamole, but for a lot of people, this way is a no-no. In fact, it has become a pretty divisive debate.

– Ciara

July 1, 2015 / Ciara Myers, Editor

Minimum wage increases take effect in D.C. and Maryland

Starting today in D.C. and Maryland, another round of minimum wage increases take effect. In the District, the minimum wage will see an increase from $9.50 to $10.50. In Maryland, the minimum wage increases a quarter up to $8.25. Advocates for increasing the minimum wage are still hoping for greater change that mirrors that of a growing number of cities in the U.S. (WAMU, 7/1):

“It’s just a start. It’s not nearly where we should be. As you look around the country, you see cities quickly moving from $10.10 an hour being a goal to $15 an hour being a goal,” says [Director of Maryland Working Families, Charly] Carter.

And while such a move would be a tough sell across Maryland, it may come to pass in D.C. by next year. That’s when a group of labor activists hope residents will vote on a measure that would see the minimum wage continue rising to $15 by 2020.

Wages for tipped workers would also rise until they hit $15 by 2025, ending the existing discrepancy between tipped and other workers. Language for the ballot initiative will be considered by the D.C. Board of Elections on Wednesday.

REGION | In an effort to increase private-sector involvement to grow the county’s economy, the Montgomery County Council has voted to privatize the Montgomery County Department of Economic Development, making it a nonprofit corporation. (WaPo, 6/30)

Foundation Heads Call on Peers to Publicize Diversity Data (Chronicle, 6/29)

Opinion: Kevin Jennings, executive director of the Arcus Foundation, looks at the role of philanthropy in helping the LGBT community cross the next hurdles after the Supreme Court’s recent ruling on marriage equality. (Chronicle, 6/26)

– IRS Plans to Begin Releasing Electronic Nonprofit Tax Forms Next Year (Chronicle, 6/30)

PEOPLE | Diana Aviv Leaving Independent Sector for Feeding America (Chronicle, 6/30)

ARTS | In Bethesda, Montgomery County planners contemplate what to do when public art isn’t exactly “public.” (WaPo, 6/30

– Now that Maryland Governor Larry Hogan has given the ok to move forward with a revised plan for the Purple Line’s development, the next phase is to figure out how to fund it. (WAMU, 6/30)

– As confidence in the Metro system wanes and reliance on the system holds steady in our region, Greater Greater Washington explores some of the most pressing issues that need reform to ensure growth in the area and safety for commuters. (GGW, 6/29)

George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and William Howard Taft will soon get some competition at Nats Park


June 30, 2015 / Ciara Myers, Editor

Housing Affordability: It’s About Political Will

by Gretchen Greiner-Lott
Vice President
Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers

For over two years, I’ve been learning about affordable housing. I now understand some of the financing mechanisms, the developer’s need for bridge loans as they await certain approvals, and the often spoken NIMBY cry in some neighborhoods. But after last week’s HAND conference, I had an “aha” moment. The biggest challenge facing our region’s ability to address the housing crisis is none of these. The biggest challenge is the need for political will. This is not just about the desire and commitment of elected officials to meet this need. Political will is also about the necessary support of those officials by the people who elect them. The people – the constituencies of these elected officials – must understand and appreciate the need for affordable housing across our region. Political will must be deep and pervasive.

Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker said that, currently, the community’s political will is missing around the affordable housing conversation. Mary Hynes, Chair of the Arlington County Board, commented that it is important to build a case for affordable housing and that we have to win over the “heads, hearts, and wallets” of elected officials, as well as voters. They all need to understand that having housing that is affordable to everyone in our region positively affects the viability and sustainability of our region. These sentiments were echoed by Alexandria’s Mayor Bill Euille and Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett.

Josh Bernstein of Bernstein Management Corporation agreed that “the whole community needs to embrace this [issue].” But, the broader community doesn’t know the reality of the need. As Hynes suggested, and others underscored, we need a public service campaign on this issue. By educating the business community, as well as the broader community, on the impact of housing affordability on the economic competitiveness and quality of life for our region, we can generate critical movement on this issue.

These comments about the need for political will were made during a panel discussion at last week’s HAND annual meeting plenary session, “Regional Strategies to Increase Affordable Housing Development & Preservation in the Greater Washington Area.” The concept was presented in the companion report, “Call the Question: Will the Greater Washington Region Collaborate and Invest to Solve Its Affordable Housing Shortage?” In it, the author outlines the many available tools for increasing the availability of affordable housing, and observes that “it has been the willingness of multiple sectors to coalesce around the need and mobilize an effective constituency to promote affordable housing” that has actually made a difference in other regions.

HAND’s plenary session was designed and hosted by a number of groups, including WRAG, under the auspices of the Greater Washington Housing Leaders Group – a collection of more than a dozen public and private sector leaders concerned about housing affordability. In the coming months, this group will strategize on how to move forward on some of the ideas and recommendations raised at the plenary session, as well as in the report. I look forward to the challenge of working with this group to build this much needed political will.


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