(Washington, DC) – Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser cut the ribbon to The Aya, the Short-Term Family Housing site in Ward 6 and the latest of the eight sites opening in the District. This ribbon cutting is part of Mayor Bower’s strategic plan to end homelessness – Homeward DC – and continues the momentum toward reforming the District’s crisis response system for families experiencing homelessness.
“The Aya embodies our DC Values and serves as a reminder that when Washingtonians fall on hard times, neighbors in every ward across the District are here to help,” said Mayor Bowser. “This beautiful facility will serve as a landing spot for families that provides them with the support they need to get back to living the dignified and independent lives that they deserve.”
The Aya follows the openings of short-term family housing sites The Kennedy (Ward 4), The Sterling (Ward 5), The Horizon (Ward 7) and The Triumph (Ward 8). The W.J. Rolark opened in the summer of 2019 and is operating as a Short-Term Family Housing site in Ward 8 until it transitions to Permanent Supportive Housing. The Brooks, the Ward 3 Short-Term Family Housing site, is expected to open in April 2020, followed by the Ward 1 Short-Term Family Housing site, which is expected to open in Winter 2020-2021. The Bowser Administration also opened the Patricia Handy Place for Women, a low-barrier shelter in Ward 2, in early 2016.
“Together with our partners, the Bowser Administration has taken bold and meaningful action to grow and improve our services for District families experiencing homelessness,” said DC Department of Human Services Director Laura Zeilinger. “We stand committed to working with providers, landlords, advocates and DC Government partners to implement system reforms and strengthen programs that we know help to end homelessness.”
At The Aya, families will have access to service-enriched programming that will assist them stabilize and exit homelessness. The site includes fifty family units, on-site parking, an indoor play and activity space, a conference room, administrative space for staff and providers, and other amenities. The site is designed with several energy-efficient and sustainable features including a green roof, high efficiency windows, HVAC system, and plumbing fixtures.
Since the launch of Homeward DC in 2016, the District has reduced overall homelessness by more than 11% and has reduced family homelessness by 45%. A centerpiece of this work is the Homelessness Prevention Program, which has successfully prevented a shelter stay for more than 7,000 District families. In addition to making unprecedented investments in affordable housing opportunities, Mayor Bowser’s Fiscal Year 2020 budget included $47 million to support homeless services, including the creation of a comprehensive street outreach network to connect unsheltered individuals to vital housing first supports.