Homeless Advocates

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

By DowntownDC

Retiring BID Director of Homeless Services, Chet Grey, demonstrated the bulldog-like determination behind his legendary leadership.

It takes enormous energy and lots of good humor to work with Downtown’s homeless population. Chet Grey, the DowntownDC BID’s director of Homeless Services, had plenty of both. He retired recently, but not before accomplishing many outstanding goals during his 10-year tenure. A major achievement: conceiving and leading the joint DowntownDC-Pathways to Housing DC Homeless Services Team, the city’s only non-governmental, clinically based outreach group dealing with chronic homelessness. Since 2007, the team has placed more than 200 Downtown homeless persons into permanent supportive housing and has helped scores more obtain medical and mental health services, identification, transportation, and other services during Grey’s tenure.

Former head of the joint DowntownDC- Pathways to Housing DC Homeless Services Team, Jonathan Ward, receives an achievement award from BID Deputy Executive Director Rick Reinhard

The BID also bade farewell to Jonathan Ward, Pathways to Housing DC’s clinical director and head of the joint Homeless Services Team. He’s now director of mobile crisis services for the DC Department of Mental Health’s Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program (CPEP).  Ward and Grey worked assiduously to promote street-level intervention that moved individuals beyond homelessness to independence.

“Chet has been a tireless advocate and key strategist for homeless adults,” said Richard H. Bradley, DowntownDC’s executive director. “He and Jonathan had a way with chronically homeless individuals that paid tremendous dividends for the men and women who made a home on Downtown streets. We are grateful for their dedication and hard work.”

Bradley stressed that the BID’s homeless efforts are still in full force. Pathways to Housing DC has hired Will Connelly as its new director of outreach, and he will head the joint Downtown Homeless Services Team. In addition, consultant J. Chapman Todd, a member of the DC Interagency Council on Homelessness (ICH) and former Catholic Charities (924 G Street) director, has been retained to assist the BID with homeless services. He will work closely with Kenneth Gregory, the BID's homeless services liaison.

David K. Kamperin, the BID’s director of Public Space Management, has been assigned responsibility for overseeing the Homeless Services program. Metropolitan Police Department’s (MPD) former First District Commander partnered with the BID on strategic problem solving, homeless outreach and coordinated approaches to address crime and quality of life issues in Downtown. Recently, he began quarterly homeless enumerations to better coordinate outreach opportunities during seasonal fluctuations.

Bradley said the BID will continue existing partnerships with more than two dozen public and non-profit organizations as well as establish new alliances to reduce chronic homelessness. In particular, the BID will sharpen its focus developing an alternative plan for the Federal City Shelter (425 2nd Street); educating the city about the benefits of continuing Housing First, a pragmatic, street-to-independence outreach initiative; seeking changes to the program that transports and drops off homeless adults in Downtown; and encouraging partnerships and developing alternatives to uncoordinated park feeding programs.