- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 17, 2016

More than 1,000 families in the District last year didn’t know whether they would have a place to sleep on any given night.

According to statistics compiled by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, 1,131 families were homeless in the District last year. Among those families were 2,049 children and 1,428 adults seeking shelter.

Still, those figures represent an 8.4 percent decrease in homeless families in the nation’s capital compared with 2014, when 1,231 homeless families with 2,239 children and 1,559 adults sought shelter.

By comparison, Montgomery County had 159 homeless families last year and 91 in 2014, a 75 percent increase. Prince George’s County had 112 homeless families last year and 144 in 2014, a 22.2 percent decrease. Fairfax County had 213 homeless families last year and 211 in 2014, a 1 percent increase.

About 285 families in the District have ended up at the derelict homeless shelter at the former D.C. General Hospital in Southeast, and many others have been scattered into motels around the city.

Those numbers have driven the push to close D.C. General and find dignified housing for needy families.

“D.C. General is not a place that anyone should ever have to live, not even for a short period of time, and D.C. has for far too long allowed homeless children and their parents to suffer from poor conditions, poor design and poor services when they deserve better,” said Amber Harding a lawyer at the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless.

Ms. Harding said D.C. General lacks the amenities needed to safely house families, including private bathrooms, refrigerators for medicine and food, and equipment to prepare meals.

D.C. General provides shelter only to families, but many single men and women seek homeless services each year as well. The Council of Government last year counted 7,298 homeless people, a total of whom 3,821 were single. The 2015 total homeless figure is 5.8 percent lower than 2014’s tally of 7,748, of whom 3,953 were single (a 3.3 percent decline from 2015).

According to the Council of Governments, 1,593 single people and 66 families met the federal definition for “chronic homelessness” in the District last year — meaning disabled people who have been without a home continuously for at least year or have been homeless four times in the past three years.

Other D.C. statistics in the council’s “Homelessness in Metropolitan Washington” report:

14.9 percent of the homeless suffered “chronic substance abuse.”

13.3 percent had “severe mental illness.”

16.9 percent had a physical disability.

10.7 percent had a history of domestic violence.

10.3 percent were military veterans.

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