Homeless Success Stories

 

The following articles are a continuing series of short profiles about homeless adults who transitioned from the streets to independent housing. Thanks to the Downtown Homeless Services Team, managed and funded by the BID, more homeless persons in Downtown are getting a new lease on life. The Team, a group of on-the-street professionals headquartered at Pathways to Housing DC, does remarkable work engaging with homeless individuals every day where they are in the community, to build rapport and trust.

Using a pragmatic, street-to-independence outreach program called Housing First, the BID partners with the DC government and non-profit homeless services providers to bring outreach services, housing, and dignity to homeless adults while improving comfort and security for Downtown workers, residents, and visitors. The following success story is a result of this special partnership:

Israel

Less than three months ago, Israel (whose name has been changed to honor his privacy) occupied the same bench in a well-known Downtown park for 16 consecutive months.
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Coral and Malcolm

The Downtown Homeless Services Team primarily encounters and engages older, unaccompanied men and women (average age of 50) living on Downtown streets. These vulnerable individuals often have no family or loved ones to turn to for help and have spent years, sometimes decades, without a home or support system. 
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Kate and Jamal

Meet Kate and Jamal, both of whom are experiencing homelessness—but this is where their similarities end. Kate hears voices, sees people who aren’t there (such as children playing in the back seat of the outreach team’s van), and experiences other extreme emotional states that often land her in inpatient psychiatric care at St. Elizabeth’s.
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Wendell

Wendell sat slumped on the same park bench, only rising to use the restroom in a nearby federal building.  Rain or shine, he was there. And despite the weather, he wore layers of shirts and an oversized coat.
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Bill

Bill was a 62-year-old mentally ill homeless man who lived on Downtown streets for at least 10 years, loitering in Franklin Square Park and in the areas of 14th and I streets and 13th and G streets, always with two trash bags in tow. 
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The Martins

The Martins, an elderly African American couple, were spotted camping out inside the Metro bus shelter on the corner of 13th and H Streets with no belongings save for blankets last spring. 
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Ellery

They first found him asleep in an alley adjacent to Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library (901 G Street). Ellery, a lifelong DC resident who suffered from early childhood trauma and later succumbed to drug dependency, had been homeless for four years. 
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Mr. C

A homeless person well known to most Downtowners was a man we’ll call Mr. C. He camped out every day on various Downtown streets, most recently at 13th and G Streets, outside the Metro Center Metrorail station. 
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John L.

John L. has been a fixture on Downtown streets for more than 20 years, primarily sleeping along 14th Street and New York Avenue and in Franklin Park.
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Timothy

The Downtown Homeless Services Team first met Timothy, 62, several months ago.  At the time, the native Washingtonian was panhandling near Ford’s Theatre.
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Selena

Selena was born and raised in Washington, D.C. She grew up with two brothers and three sisters, all known for being the prettiest girls on the block.
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