Speaking Out About Homeless Services

Last Thursday, April 19th, the DC Council Committee on Human Services held a budget hearing on Mayor Gray’s proposed DHS budget for FY 2013.  Committee Chairman Jim Graham heard testimony from DHS officials, legal services attorneys, advocates, service providers, faith leaders and most importantly, people who are experiencing homelessness or who receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).

Witness after witness expressed concern about the gap in funding for homeless services left by the mayor’s proposal.  Time and again, Councilmember Graham heard from community members that even if that gap were filled, the system would still fall short of meeting the need…turning away family after family with no safe place to go…or potentially worse, referring those families to Child Protective Services.  Most compelling was the testimony of homeless moms who are desperate to find a safe and stable home for their children.

The Committee also heard testimony opposing the planned cuts in TANF benefits, with a particular focus on the hardship that families will suffer as the District continues to struggle to pull out of the recession.

You can read the Legal Clinic’s testimony on both issues, delivered by Marta Beresin and Amber Harding by clicking the links.  Through the remainder of the week, we will share with you some of the powerful statements made by family members in, or seeking to enter, DC’s family shelters.

Over the weeks ahead, all Councilmembers need to hear from their constituents that adequately funding homeless services is a community priority.  We urge you to add your voice to those who are calling for budget justice.  You can get contact information for the Council here.

About Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless

The Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless envisions a just and inclusive community for all residents of the District of Columbia, where housing is a human right and where every individual and family has equal access to the resources they need to thrive. Our mission is to use the law to make justice a reality for our neighbors who struggle with homelessness and poverty. Combining community lawyering and advocacy to achieve our clients’ goals, our expert staff and network of volunteer attorneys provide low barrier, comprehensive legal services at intake sites throughout the District of Columbia, helping our clients to access housing, shelter, and life-saving services. Rooted in the experiences of this client work, we effectively blend system reform efforts, policy advocacy, community education and client engagement to advocate for long term improvements in local and federal programs that serve the low- and no-income community.
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