To Whom It May Concern:With each passing day, the homeless population in and around Washington D.C. continues to struggle to survive and faces critical challenges for which their community has no real answers or solutions. Two single mothers, Jasmine Kelly and Anita White, currently live in a transitional housing complex in the Navy Yard neighborhood of Washington, D.C. and have yet to see the light at the end of the tunnel (Weiland, 2017). Throughout the city, there is a serious affordable housing crisis which has been devastating for many people and has limited their capacity to be successful contributors to society and to the local economy (Weiland, 2017). With over 8,300 people living in homelessness and 17.3 percent of this population living in poverty, the affordable housing shortage has become a critical epidemic that requires urgent attention because the median housing prices in the city have reached record levels, with no downturn in sight (Weiland, 2017).

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There is plenty of new housing available throughout Washington, D.C., but people like Jasmine Kelly and Anita White cannot afford the cost of rent or to purchase real estate, as these homes are not designed for low-income families (Weiland, 2017). Rapid rehousing has emerged as a model setup by the local government to enable families to escape shelter living and to get into more affordable housing; however, this program has been less than successful to date and may end up evicted because their subsidies eventually expire and they still have no where else to go (The Economist, 2017). Under these conditions, it is very difficult for the homeless to overcome their economic conditions and to obtain affordable housing, thereby leading to a vicious cycle that is difficult to overcome.

In the Washington D.C. area, the population increase to 670,000 residents and the gentrification of many neighborhoods has increased the cost of many rents, thereby pricing lower-income families right out of these options (The Economist, 2017). Over an 11-year period between 2002-2013, rents under $800 per month fell drastically by 42 percent, making competition for affordable housing difficult if not impossible for many people (The Economist, 2017). A boom in affordable housing is critical, but it requires significant investment and support which does not appear to be available, only providing short-term options for people and leaving them at risk of going back to shelters in the near future (The Economist, 2017). Furthermore, for homeless persons with mental illness who struggle for stability and who are increasingly monitored by local police regarding their behaviors, this population faces serious challenges which impact their wellbeing and limit their capacity to achieve stable housing and incomes (Simpson, 2015).

The homeless population in Washington D.C. has reached critical levels and requires the support and investment of local community members and businesses to improve the quality of life of this group and to provide greater stability in their lives. A strong commitment to improving the lives of the homeless in Washington D.C. is essential so that single mothers such as Jasmine Kelly and Anita White can make a better life for themselves and for their children (Weiland, 2017). The increased availability of affordable housing will have a positive impact on this population and will demonstrate that greater security and strength among members of this population, with the support of the community, can have a positive and meaningful impact on their lives over time. It is imperative that organizations within the Washington DC areas, most notably the local government, continue to explore options to increase investment in this population and to ensure that the people of this city can gain access to affordable housing, sooner rather than later.

Reflection
Affordable housing is of critical importance for the people of Washington D.C. who struggle to survive and who face obstacles on a regular basis. These issues reflect the need for additional oversight and stronger community-based resources to improve outcomes for individuals and families. In an advocacy role, it is my responsibility to be proactive in my efforts to contribute to the organization at a high level and to ensure that all possible resources are utilized in a productive and efficient manner. Ensuring that rents are more affordable is a key priority in any advocacy efforts because outreach to the people who need the most support is an essential component of this process. It is important for the people of Washington D.C. who struggle to survive have the tools and resources available to them to improve their circumstances and to be productive members of society as best as possible; however, this cannot be effectively accomplished without the support of their community to support improvements in their quality of life and wellbeing.

With advocacy efforts in place to support affordable housing and to improve access to a more stable housing environment, people can experience greater security and can have the opportunity to be fully contributing members of society who have the resources available to them to make a difference. Therefore, it is important to provide those in need with a greater level of comfort within their surroundings and the security that is required to ensure that their needs are met with confidence and strength. It is important to emphasize the value that this population brings to the community because they should be recognized for their contributions and their overall understanding of the key areas which impact their growth and development. With greater advocacy efforts, it is important to make this population feel more confident and to have an opportunity to engage in different activities to ensure that they can make a difference in the lives of their children and can be productive as best as possible. There must be a greater emphasis on understanding how this population can access affordable housing to promote greater stability and strength among its members. One of the primary objectives is to enable this population to gain access to affordable housing which they can reside in for longer periods of time because rents remain static rather than increase in cost over time in a manner which does not reflect the cost of living. Advocacy efforts must reflect this objective and support a stable housing economy throughout Washington D.C. which will have the desired impact over the long term.

From a personal perspective, this assignment opened my eyes to some of the challenges that the people of Washington D.C. face on a daily basis which I was not aware of. I did not realize that the affordable housing crisis was so significant and that so many people could not survive with the conditions as they currently are. This is a serious crisis which requires further analysis and investigation and from which there must be a greater emphasis on understanding how this population can survive and grow, despite of its limitations. The development of a successful platform to improve this population requires an effective understanding of their daily lives and the circumstances which have created their struggles to date. As I have learned about this population, I have recognized that they have not had many opportunities to improve their circumstances and to escape from poverty or near-poverty conditions; therefore, they have struggled to survive and to take steps forward in their lives. I believe that in my own small way, I can make a difference by recognizing their difficulties and by simply communicating the importance of affordable housing for this population group. This problem requires the work of many people; however, I believe that my advocacy efforts can be impactful in some ways and provide them with opportunities for growth and development which otherwise might not have been realized. Since I now recognize some of the problems that this population group faces, it is important to advocate for them as best as possible and to try to make a difference that will have a lasting impact on their overall wellbeing. The housing crisis demonstrates that there are many other obstacles that this population group faces; therefore, by shedding some light on these issues, perhaps they can gain the support and guidance that is necessary to improve their lives in the near future.

Finally, I recognize that the development of new ideas to address the challenges that this population faces may be a daunting task; nonetheless, it is essential to understand how they struggle and why affordable housing is so out of reach. This reflects the importance of sharing information regarding this population with others in the community to better emphasize the importance of their needs. I believe that through communication, the serious nature of this issue can be better emphasized and provide an opportunity to address the affordable housing situation in a direct manner. Sharing information regarding this group and their history is of critical importance in any advocacy efforts that are established, and this requires an effective understanding of the challenges and opportunities that they face throughout their daily lives. My contributions to this discussion are important and can provide an opportunity to engage in different actions which will have a positive impact on their quality of life for the foreseeable future.

References
  • The Economist (2017). Why Washington, DC’s programme for homeless families isn’t working. Retrieved from https://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2017/06/down-and-out-district
  • Simpson, J. (2015). Police and homeless outreach worker partnerships: Policing of homeless individuals with mental illness in Washington, DC. Human Organization, 74(2), 125-134.
  • Weiland, N. (2017). D.C. homelessness doubles national average as living costs soar. The NewYork Times, retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/01/us/washington-dc-homelessness-double-national-average.html