New Year’s Resolutions to Make DC A True Human Rights City

Happy New Year, Dear Readers!

This year, we resolve to work harder than ever before to make justice a reality for our neighbors who struggle with homelessness and poverty. It’s unacceptable that so many DC residents are still living without access to safe, affordable housing in 2013, and we look forward to working with all of our partners, both within the DC government and outside of it, to change this.

Over the next twelve months (and beyond), we’d like to see the Mayor and DC Council demonstrate a real commitment to preventing and eliminating homelessness in the District while improving the quality of life and services for those who are homeless and at risk of homelessness.

Here are some new year’s resolutions we’d like our Elected Officials to commit to in 2013:

  • Ensure that every child with no safe place to sleep has access to emergency shelter every night of the year, not just when it’s freezing outside.
  • Make sure that ALL residents have their basic needs for food, shelter, healthcare, and clothing met.
  • Ensure that people with disabilities have access to emergency shelter as quickly and easily as those without, while simultaneously improving access to shelter for everyone.
  • Adequately fund the Interim Disability Assistance Program (IDA) and end the IDA waitlist.
  • Monitor the TANF re-design to ensure that parents who are identified as needing additional resources before moving toward work are provided quality services. All families must be given access to the supports they need (job training, education, child care, transportation) to regain self-sufficiency.
  • Through the Mayor’s Comprehensive Housing Strategy Task Force, make meaningful recommendations that address the lack of affordable rental housing in DC and prioritize the creation and preservation of housing that helps DC residents making at or below 30% of the Area Median Income (AMI). Implement these recommendations.
  • No longer allow District-owned lands to be simply sold to the highest bidder. Resolve to leverage the value of these government-owned lands to satisfy the District’s need for more affordable housing by requiring developers to produce deeply affordable units anytime DC disposes of property it owns or controls.
  • Ensure that all DC residents have access to healthy, safe, affordable housing. This year, let’s end homelessness for every DC resident who is elderly and every DC resident living with HIV/AIDS!
  • Assure that all DC residents have access to justice and an opportunity to participate in the policy and budget decisions that impact their lives.

We may come up with more, but we think this is a good preliminary list of very achievable goals for this year. Please continue to check our blog for updates on the issues facing our most vulnerable residents, and for ways you can get involved to make these goals a reality.

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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