Countless Children’s Law Center clients depend on the Department of Human Services (DHS) for basic needs like housing and the administration of public benefits. Every day, we receive referrals to help families who experience housing insecurity and rely on DHS to provide them with services through Virginia Williams Family Resource Center, Tagreted Affordable Housing Vouchers (TAH), and the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP). We also are referred many families whose children are experiencing the harming effects of unsafe and unhealthy housing. And DHS is failing to support these DC families, properly evaluate the serious healthy housing crisis in the District, and prevent more children from being exposed to hazardous housing conditions.
Children’s Law Center policy attorney Elizabeth Oquendo shared our insight during DHS’s oversight hearing that resolving the agency’s Medicaid errors, resulting in families’ public benefits being terminated, has been complicated and time-consuming for families and advocates alike. She further shared our concerns that DHS reported unused ERAP funds at the end of last year, and that the agnecy is choosing to divert families at Virginia Williams from their entitlement to enter shelter.
Senior supervising attorney Kathy Zeisel also testified at the hearing about DHS’s increased use of the Rapid Rehousing (RRH) system, as well as the trauma and uncertainty experienced by families cycyling from homelessness to RRH and back again. DHS’s own statistics on RRH outcomes last year are concerning, and many of the worst housing conditions cases we are referred are families in RRH. We strongly urge the DC Council to consider this data and work with advocates to find ways to better serve some of DC’s most vulnerable families.
Read our testimonies here: