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March 13, 2014 / Rebekah Seder, Editor

If the recession is over, why are so many families homeless?

HOMELESSNESS | City Paper‘s must read cover story this week goes deep into the sudden spike in the number of D.C. families seeking shelter this winter — a situation that the city was clearly not prepared to handle. While city officials have argued that there isn’t really a higher rate of homelessness this winter, advocates say that there should have been no surprise that there would be more families seeking shelter from the city. (City Paper, 3/13The reason?

As housing has become increasingly unaffordable, the city has struggled to move people out of shelter and into long-term housing. The neediest shelter residents require permanent supportive housing, but the city directs about four-fifths of shelter families to a five-year-old program called rapid rehousing, which subsidizes a family’s rent in a market-rate apartment for a limited period of time until the family’s able to pay the full rent itself.

The dearth of affordable housing is making that harder. It’s not for lack of money: The city ended the last fiscal year with a $321 million surplus. But DHS won’t move families into apartments through rapid rehousing that they won’t eventually be able to afford on their own, since the subsidies are temporary. And every month, there are fewer apartments poor residents can afford without help.

COMMUNITY WEALTH BUILDING | Many of you have heard of the Community Wealth Building Initiative over the last couple of years. The work of developing viable businesses that would be anchored in the community and owned and operated by low-income residents is moving forward. In today’s Daily we look at one business model that holds great potential to be both profitable and attract a broad cross-section of philanthropic investment: stormwater management. (Daily, 3/13)

Related: If you need a refresher on the initiative, check out these frequently asked questions.

INEQUALITY | The D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute has a new report out today showing that the District is the 4th most unequal city in the country. The average income of the top five percent of residents is now over $500,000 a year (higher than in any other big city, in fact) – and the average income of the bottom 20 percent is $9,000. (DCFPI, 3/13) 

DCFPI’s recommendations for alleviating this disparity: more affordable housing (see above!), more job and skills training, expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit, and better access to subsidized health insurance.

Eight groups apply to open new D.C. charter schools (WaPo, 3/11)

Funding Puts Takeover Of Alexandria’s Jefferson-Houston School In Doubt (WAMU, 3/13)

Metro Official Says System Upgrades Are Making A Difference (WAMU, 3/12)

– One of said upgrades. (GGW, 3/12) This is even more creative than when WMATA uses escalators as stairs.

COMMUNITY | The Consumer Health Foundation‘s annual meeting, “Health and Racial Equity in Turbulent Times: Implicit Bias Examined,” is next Thursday, March 20, and space is still available. More information here.

Don’t you hate it when this happens?

The (Almost) Daily WRAG will be back on Monday. Have a great weekend.

– Rebekah


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