November 28, 2008

Helping the "Housing First" recipients

We're all keeping our fingers crossed that Mayor Fenty's Housing First project (which aims to move around 800 homeless individuals off the streets of DC and into their own residences) will continue to move forward even in the face of a burgeoning budget crisis. See this column by Marc Fisher about the unfortunate prospect that a truly positive program like Housing First would have to be slashed.

Already we can see its positive effects as the first batches of new residents have been moved off the streets and into subsidized housing. Understandably, many of these newly-stabilized individuals still need assistance making ends meet. We've seen our first influx of Housing First recipients at our pantry.

People like Ronald Stanley, Sr, who came to Bread for the City for the first time earlier this week.

Ronald grew up in DC, got married and moved to Pittsburgh. A couple of years ago he got divorced and moved back to DC - only to end up without a home. He often slept at Adam's Place Shelter and took job training programs during the day.

Now he is one of the first participants in the Housing First initiative. Ronald has been placed in an apartment in Southeast; the apartment came furnished, and his rent is equivalent to 30% of his income. Ronald is currently temping, doing inventory and stocking; he's looking for better work as a cook.

In the meantime, Bread for the City's food pantry will help carry him through. We wanted to help Ronald enjoy a special holiday celebration in his new place with his granddaughter, so we allowed him to receive a special Holiday Helpings turkey meal (which normally is reserved for our repeat clients). He was thrilled.

It's going to be a great holiday. I'll have this turkey with my granddaughter -- she's staying with me for thirty days while her mom is in jail. And it'll last us at least four days, so I'll make us some turkey salad, some turkey noodle soup, turkey souffle. What you all are doing is very gracious.
Ronald, obviously, is a big supporter of Mayor Fenty's Housing First initiative. He believes that if it's given the chance to succeed, it can bring do a lot to make the streets more secure. "When people get to have a place to go," Ronald says, "when they got food to eat, they won't be out there getting into trouble, into crime."

Good luck to Ronald--we're truly happy to be able to lend him a helping hand.

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