Who We Are The Story of Pathways to Housing DC
While the model is simple, the Housing First Program is very complex and requires dedicated staff to coordinate all aspects (outreach, housing, healthcare, treatment and case management) of the program in order for the people we serve to be successful in their recoveries. Housing First means there are no conditions that have to be met before the person moves in. Housing is provided in apartments that are spread throughout the District, with each client holding their own lease. Using “scattered sites,” we are able to give each client choice in where they would like to live, helping to foster a sense of home and self-determination, all while upholding our client-centered approach. Stable, supportive housing is merely the first step towards reintegrating into their community, rebuilding family relationships, reconnecting with their faith fellowships, and experiencing an improvement in overall physical health and psychological wellbeing.
After receiving housing first, every client is matched with a support team (Assertive Community Treatment Team, Veterans Housing First Team and/or Permanent Supportive Housing Team) comprised of psychiatrists, nurses, social workers, certified addictions counselors, employment specialists, and peer health specialists. The team works together to provide a client-centered, comprehensive community-based treatment and support services around the clock, with a focus on integrating both health and social well-being into the recovery plan. These vital interventions are designed to empower client choice and support successful independent living. Using this model, we have been able to maintain a housing retention rate of at least 89% with clients who have traditionally been viewed as “treatment resistant,” and “not ready for housing.” We believe that housing is a basic human right, that anyone who says they want a safe place to live is “housing ready,” and that virtually all people can be successful in housing with the proper combination of supports. Our success using the Housing First model demonstrates that the vast majority of people we connect with permanent supportive housing stay in that housing and on the path to recovery.
Who We Are Commitment to Equitable Solutions
On this journey towards home, health, and hope, Pathways to Housing DC is committed to dismantling structural racism and creating a race equity culture at our agency. Our work must be grounded in and guided by racial equity and social justice. While poverty is a root cause of homelessness, we cannot talk about poverty without talking about racism. We must recognize the ways in which a history of systemic racism exacerbates homelessness for our neighbors of color.
The root causes of chronic homelessness are not personal failings. Rather, they are structural and include racism, the lack of affordable housing, and stagnant wages. In DC, 88.4% of adults experiencing homelessness are Black or African American, compared to 47.7% percent of residents of the District overall. We must recognize the ways in which a history of systemic racism exacerbates homelessness for DC residents of color.
Pathways to Housing DC commits to:
Advocate with and for the people we serve to ensure that public resources are invested in long-term solutions that dismantle systemic racism.
Build a community committed to ending systemic racism, especially in areas related to housing and access to health care.
Create opportunities with and for our neighbors to recover their lives through our housing first programs; supported employment efforts; our commitment to housing returning citizens; and our mental health work at the D.C. Superior Court.
Address our own inherent bias and participate in anti-racism and equity training.
Bridge the long-term racial divide across the City. With housing in all eight wards, every neighborhood is part of the Pathways to Housing DC community.
Listen. A critical step in our healing and our moving forward will be to listen to those most impacted by racism.
We will unite as a community to follow the path of love and hope and to channel this anguish into concrete, productive and powerful action.
Pathways Brought Me Home
Mary, a Pathways client, was born in DC and dealt with sexual abuse from an uncle throughout her childhood and domestic violence from partners in her 20's. She used alcohol and marijuana to numb the pain of a lifetime of abuse and trauma. Mary was introduced to Pathways DC through a domestic violence shelter, and Pathways staff diagnosed Mary with HIV and bipolar disorder. The vulnerability of her situation allowed Mary’s team to quickly secure a housing voucher and within weeks they helped move Mary into her very own apartment. Mary told us, “I can honestly say that it was not until I received my keys that I felt true happiness. I would not have succeeded without the help of my “guiders,” (Mary’s term for her team at Pathways DC) because they always kept me on the right path and never gave up on me.” Today, with the help of her Pathways team, she has stability and is on the journey to recovery.