When Spring’s contract with a local water company abruptly ended, she couldn’t sustain herself and her son on a single stream of income. After trying to keep up with payments while trying to seek additional work, her landlord kicked her out after missing rent. A single, working mother of one now living in an emergency shelter, Spring’s life changed entirely in a matter of days.
Thankfully, Spring was able to attend United Way of the National Capital Area’s Project Homeless Connect (PHC) and receive critical services to help get her back on her feet one week into being homeless. Having already lined up an interview for the following week, Spring arrived at PHC seeking a haircut, pedicure, some financial counseling and new clothes to wear for her and her son.
The mission of PHC is to build community, shift mindsets around homelessness through personal experience and connection, and provide critical resources to our neighbors at risk or experiencing homelessness. United Way NCA’s flagship event compounds services like government-issued IDs, medical and dental screenings, beauty and hair appointments, clothing drives, and free financial counseling all in an easy to access environment. Participants who come in to receive services are paired with a Volunteer Buddy who helps them navigate the event, ensuring they find everything that they need and make a friend along the way.
Unfortunately, Spring’s story and others like hers are becoming a growing trend in the new face of homelessness in our region. Sky-rocketing cost of living with stagnant wage growth exposes a vulnerable demographic of working families to experiencing homelessness after things like a missed paycheck, a medical emergency, or a flood. According to the 2019 Point in Time Report, of the over 6,500 people experiencing homelessness in the district counted, 83.2% of those individuals in families reported receiving at least one form of income. In some cases, adults and families are having to work 2-3 jobs just to make ends meet.
Issues as complex as homelessness require the combined efforts of business, government, and nonprofits. There’s no one “solution” to the affordable housing crisis affecting our region, but when we work together to ensure that all members of our community have access to a healthy, educated and financially stable life, we come that much closer to bridging the gaps.
To learn more about United Way NCA’s Project Homeless Connect, please visit unitedwaynca.org/phc.