In­stead of triag­ing, cre­ate hous­ing

The Washington Post - - WASHINGTON FORUM -

Thank you for the April 16 front-page ar­ti­cle “Fam­i­lies fault D.C. shel­ter sys­tem,” which laid bare the ter­ri­ble hard­ship faced by the Dis­trict’s home­less fam­i­lies and on­go­ing vi­o­la­tions of the le­gal right to shel­ter. Also crit­i­cal is the larger con­text in which this cri­sis is play­ing out. The mother in the fam­ily high­lighted by the ar­ti­cle held a steady job, and her part­ner was some­times em­ployed, yet the fam­ily was un­able to avoid home­less­ness.

While each fam­ily’s cir­cum­stances are unique, this much is clear: In the Dis­trict, and in many com­mu­ni­ties around the coun­try, es­ca­lat­ing hous­ing costs are se­verely squeez­ing many work­ing fam­i­lies; for the poor­est, home­less­ness is of­ten the re­sult. In­stead of wast­ing re­sources on try­ing to “triage” des­per­ate fam­i­lies, and in the process shift­ing blame to them by ques­tion­ing whether they are “truly” home­less, the Dis­trict should fo­cus on cre­at­ing hous­ing that is truly af­ford­able for even its low­est-in­come res­i­dents. Maria Foscari­nis, Wash­ing­ton The writer is founder and ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Na­tional Law Cen­ter on Home­less­ness & Poverty.

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