- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 18, 2005

D.C. officials intensified their efforts yesterday to end homelessness by hosting a service fair to help families in city shelters find permanent homes and jobs.

Nearly 700 people attended the fair at the D.C. Village transitional shelter in Southwest, said Yvonne Gilchrist, the director for the city’s Department of Human Services, which sponsored the event.

“We wanted it to be like one-stop shopping,” she said. “This was our attempt to bring all of the resources to them.”

The majority of those who attended were from D.C. Village, with others coming from six other homeless shelters in the District.

They were met by representatives from various government agencies as well as community-based and faith-based groups that provided such information and services as health screening and where to find child care after starting work.

The Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless was also there to provide free legal counsel.

The fair was the first of several that are planned and was in conjunction with Mayor Anthony A. Williams’ “Homeless No More 10-Year Plan.”

The plan, which Mr. Williams presented in January, aims to eliminate homelessness through such initiatives as developing or subsidizing 6,000 permanent housing units.

Mr. Williams said the plan also will focus on preventing homelessness and moving people into permanent housing quickly, rather than putting them in temporary shelters.

Tracey Foster, 39, was one of those who were approved on the spot yesterday and placed in a new housing unit.

“It went good, really well,” Miss Foster said while waiting in line for lunch with her daughter Akia, 2. She had been staying at D.C. Village and other city shelters before yesterday.

Miss Foster plans to begin moving in tomorrow with Akia and her two other children.

“They were really helpful,” she said. “I wasn’t expecting to get it done so quickly.”

Karen Reed, 44, wasn’t as fortunate. She and her three boys — ages 11, 7 and 11 months — were told they’d have to wait at least a week to find out whether they have been approved for housing.

Miss Reed said she was led to believe that the process was more immediate, which left her somewhat disillusioned.

“I was hoping to fill out an application and they’d tell me I could move in [tomorrow] or Tuesday,” she said. “The way they made it seem was like if you came and filled out an application, you’d be moving on Monday or Tuesday, but it really wasn’t like that. We got a lot of different information.”

Despite the confusion, she remained optimistic about her chances of being placed soon.

“A week, that’s good news, though,” Miss Reed said. “I had expected to be in a new place by Christmas, that’s my Christmas wish.”

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