I’m about to introduce you to Charlette. A few years ago, her life was in chaos; now she feels like a success.
Her turnaround shows the power of UPO’s highly effective Permanent Supportive Housing Program. We provide long-term housing and case management to highly vulnerable individuals and families experiencing homelessness. Customers receive housing and wraparound supportive services to help them stay in their homes as they work to achieve the highest possible level of self-sufficiency and quality of life.
Our intent is to help people finally gain the stability they crave and then turn their lives around, just like Charlette (who is not pictured).
She’s a 29-year-old mom who entered our program 29 months ago (during the pandemic). At the time, she had a Child and Family Services Agency (CFSA) case against her because she'd neglected her children.
Charlette seized this opportunity to change. She stayed on top of the CFSA appointments and attended every parenting class. She collaborated with her social worker and therapist to improve her coping skills and worked hand-in-hand with her UPO case manager to get new housing.
She developed a new mindset which paid off again and again: She enrolled her children in a new pre-K and began initiating and enjoying more activities with them; she attended job fairs which led to a job at a restaurant; and after researching schools to continue her education, she began studying Early Childhood Education at the University of Phoenix. Her long-term goal is to lead her own school for children in low-income areas.
After 18 months, CFSA closed her case. They saw, as we did, that Charlette has completely turned her life around.
Here’s an update about our overall program:
We have 84 customers: 74 have been successfully housed for over a year; the other 10 are applying for housing right now.
(Since UPO began this program in 2019, we have consistently maintained a housing stability rate of 100%. This is the key measurement of our success because once people are stable, we help them address their other issues, including behavioral health, substance abuse, education, and job training.)
Shelter Hotline update:
The Outreach Workers of UPO’s Shelter Hotline are on Washington, DC’s streets 365 days a year on a relentless mission to ensure individuals and families experiencing homelessness receive the services they desperately need.
During the winter months, we kick into an even higher gear. From November 1- April 15 (also known as “hypothermia season”), unsheltered people on the streets and in encampments are especially vulnerable to severe cold so we add an overnight shift with additional staffing. We use every available resource to get people out of the cold and into a warm space, in order to decrease their risk of injury and death.
From October 2022 to January 2023, we distributed 60,473 life-sustaining items (such as blankets, socks, hats, and gloves) and gave out 9,415 meals. Outreach Workers also conducted 1,000 wellness checks throughout the city to protect, support, and connect vulnerable people to critical services.
Our Hotline Call Center Operators have been extremely busy, answering and responding to 36,400 calls for help from people experiencing homelessness and other District citizens. Our team gave helpful information including referrals to social services, and dispatched drivers to provide transportation for thousands of customers in need.
Note: Our drivers provided transportation to more than 12,500 homeless customers over the last 4 months. These rides were to shelters, daytime social service centers, and housing option programs.
Every day, Shelter Hotline makes a powerful difference and saves lives. Since we’re part of the city’s continuum of care, we’re on the front line, helping the people who need the most help. Honestly, if you were in their situation, wouldn’t you want people devoted to helping you?
UPO’s outreach workers continue to be the eyes and ears of the District, performing wellness checks throughout the city to protect the health of individuals and families experiencing homelessness. We distribute 200,000 life-sustaining items a year and feed people who need our help — Shelter Hotline has given out 146,000+ meals since the start of the pandemic.
We’re part of the city’s continuum of care so we pivot as needs change. The number of available shelter beds was cut in half during the pandemic (and has not yet been restored), so we expanded our capacity to respond to the increased need: We hired additional staff, added 4 new vehicles to our fleet, and made our operations more effective and efficient by adopting better ways to share real-time data.
Our dedicated, compassionate drivers bring people to social service appointments, meal programs, and shelters, where they receive healthcare and case management. UPO also handles emergencies: Shelter Hotline answers 96,000 calls for help a year. We see the difference that we make in the lives of people who live on our streets.
Now, with winter on the way, we kick into a higher gear (while keeping our safety measures in place). Our team of outreach workers, who are typically on the streets 18 hours a day, are patrolling the city 24-7 to check on people’s health. When the weather is the worst, we’re at our best: We help people to get out of the bitter cold and into warm beds.
UPO will deliver many life-sustaining items during hypothermia season, including 11,000+ blankets. We rely on partners to supply additional items. For example, this year Bombas doubled its support for UPO because its leaders believe in our vision. They donated a truckful of crates, filled with 10,000 pairs of white socks. Why only white ones? Because it’s easier for our outreach workers to see if someone has an infection or is bleeding — it will show through their sock.
Thank you for helping to protect our neighbors and build, as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “a Beloved Community.”
UPO’s highly effective Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) program is growing. We are hiring 2 additional case managers who will steadily add new customers — people who were homeless and can now move into permanent, stable housing.
Since UPO began our PSH program in 2019, we have consistently maintained a housing stability rate of 100%. This is the key measurement of our success because once people are stable, we help them build themselves up: They get the behavioral health counseling or substance abuse treatment they need; then they can get a job that launches a career.
UPO’s multi-faceted programs, including the Comprehensive Treatment Center and UPO Workforce Institute, are part of our wraparound services that help people thrive. We help them in the most effective ways: We value data, track our work closely, and modify our strategies based on the best practices in the field.
Our customers include 16 tenants (9 families and 7 individuals) at MDL Flats, a building developed by UPO’s partner TM Associates at 1550 1st St. SW. These apartments are for people who earn up to 30% of the area median income and are determined to improve their quality of life. (Note: This building was the first new affordable housing in SW in well over a decade, and UPO was one of the sparks that made it come to life.)
In UPO’s Scattered Sites program which includes homes across the District, PSH has moved 58 customers (24 families and 34 individuals) into permanent housing.
PSH is gearing up to move many more families into affordable housing in the next 18 months: For example, construction of MDXL Flats at 1530 1st St. SW, also being developed by TM Associates, will be completed in 2023 and ready for PSH tenants to move into their new, beautiful homes.
Thank you for being part of the constellation of donors who support this life-changing program by furnishing the homes of these families!
Please take a moment to feel how much it means to people to finally have a “Home Sweet Home” of their own.
The Hypothermia season, which ended on April 15, 2022, after five months with the highest number of hypothermia and cold weather emergency alerts we have seen over the last several years. Over the past two months, the number of available shelters have been reduced by half, which significantly decreased bed capacities for those seeking shelter. This resulted in considerably more homeless individuals are unsheltered on the streets. UPO Shelter Hotline (SHL) has been very responsive in serving those on the streets with comfort items, food and referral to homeless services programs. There has been renewed emphasis on collaboration among homeless providers within DC continuum of care systems to move individuals and families experiencing homeless into permanent supportive housing options.
Among the DC homeless population, number of positive COVID19 cases decreased significantly over the past several months. DC Mayor Muriel Bowser's Office have kept protective and safety measures in places across the shelter system and contracted provider programs– to help mitigate spreading the virus. Shelter hours remained extended 24/7 (with onsite case management, testing, healthcare, meals etc.) to limit movement across the city. Also, more community-based Walk-Up Testing and Vaccination Sites were added in the city to provide easy access for customers, which resulted in a considerable increase in the number of homeless persons fully vaccinated and boosted.
As we transition to warmer weather, UPO SHL operational and response posture remains consistent in providing compassionate services to those experiencing homeless. Shelter Hotline remains on the front-line daily (365/year) saving lives by reaching out, conducting welfare checks, distributing meals and comfort items, responding to hundreds of calls from customers seeking help and resource linkage.
UPO’s Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) program moved 16 new tenants, 9 families and 7 individuals, into the 16 remaining apartments at MDL Flats, developed by UPO’s partners TM Associates, located at 1550 1st St. SW on schedule in April 22. Thanks to your generous support all clients were provided with furniture for their new homes. All residents in this 100% affordable, new construction community are at 50% of area median income and below.
Construction of MDXL flats, located at 1530 1st St., also being developed by TM Associates, has commenced with the clearing of the sight and completion is anticipated during 2023. Apartments in the new development community will also be affordable for PSH tenants at 50% of area median income and below.
In UPO’s Scattered Sites program PSH has serviced a total of 58 clients, 24 families and 34 individuals. Of the 58 clients 54 have been moved into Permanent Housing. We have consistently maintained a housing stability rate of 100%. We work with families to help them, with the support of UPO’s multi-faceted programs, to achieve the highest level of self-sufficiency possible and improve their overall quality of life. We value data and information to inform our work to best serve our families. We track our work closely and modify our strategies according to our own analysis of our work, as well as keeping apprised of the current best practices in the field.
With PSH gearing up to move many more families into affordable housing during the next 18 months the need to provide support for furnishing their new homes will be strong. In addition we have a critical need to replenish our supply of comfort items to support those who are still homeless!
We have a great opportunity on Wednesday July 20th, JULY BONUS DAY, to kick off our fundraising efforts with a soaring start.
We ask that you please join us with your generous support and share our project with your family and friends. Our Goal is to raise $10,000 on July Bonus Day to assist at least 5 DC neighbors with household supplies and furniture when they move from homelessness into their new homes.
As the pandemic entered its third year, the new Omicron Variant caused an uptick in positive Covid19 cases in DC in December 21 and January 22 but fortunately the effect of Omicron was less severe, and in February 22 positive COVID19 cases dropped considerably. With the downtick, on March 1, 22 DC will relax its mask mandate in public and some identified venues, however a mask advisory will remain in force for Homeless Shelters and UPO Shelter Hotline personnel who interact with homeless clients and the public.
During the past quarter UPO’s Shelter Hotline team has diligently continued to protect the unfortunate homeless on the streets of DC, checking on their health, transporting them to shelters, and providing them with lifesaving comfort items, food, warm clothing and protection against the elements as the bitter cold of the hypothermia season became severe with a record number of Cold Weather Emergencies. With 40,000 comfort items distributed in the past three months a need to restock urgently requires additional funding.
According to a report from the Community Partnership for the Prevention of Homelessness the number of homeless in DC was reduced by 20% in 2021. Shelter Hotline shared in this success to the extent of being an integral part of the District Homeless Continuum of Care.
The opening of MDL Flats, developed by UPO’s partners TM Associates, located at 1550 1st St. SW last year provided affordable housing for 76 individuals and families, who moved into their in their new homes, with upgraded amenities, before December 31, 21. All residents in this 100% affordable, new construction community are at 50% of area median income and below. Another new affordable housing building, MDXL flats, located at 1530 1st St., also being developed by TM Associates, is now under construction.
UPO’s Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) program has tenants approved who are scheduled to move into 16 MDL Flats units on April 1, 22.
We are very grateful to all our supporters who have so generously supported our appeal for support of our PSH program. In July 21 we set a goal to raise $10,000 to assist at least 5 DC neighbors with household supplies and furniture when they move from homelessness into their new homes. With your help we have now raised more than $8,000!
With 16 more tenants moving in next month needing funding support for furnishing their new homes, and our critical need to replenish our supply of comfort items to support those who are still homeless, we have set a new goal of $10,000 for the next six months. Please maintain your generous support and share our project with your family and friends.
During the past quarter UPO’s Shelter Hotline team has diligently continued to protect people who live on the streets of DC. We check on their health, drive them to shelters and cooling centers, and provide them with lifesaving comfort items, food, clothing and protection against the elements.
While it is difficult to precisely determine the total number of individuals experiencing homelessness in the District that have taken advantage of the opportunity to get vaccinated, we can confidently say, the overall response has been high. As COVID19 vaccine became readily available, homeless providers worked strategically to ensure easy access as well as assistance to our most vulnerable residents to get vaccinated. Among the homeless population, those in low barrier shelters represented a higher vaccination rate (with at least 1 of 2 shots), as evidenced by a notable decrease in COVID19 transmission across the shelter system. Although the Delta variant is becoming more rampant across the country, there has not been any reported outbreak or significant increase of transmission among the homeless population in the District. However, this serious strain of the virus is being closely monitored by the homeless system as to the extent of impact on individuals experiencing homelessness.
The MDL Flats, located at 1550 1st St. SW are now completed and are open to 76 individuals and families, who can expect to celebrate Thanksgiving in their new homes, with upgraded amenities. All residents in this 100% affordable, new construction community are at 50% of area median income and below. We expect that another new building, MDXL flats, located at 1530 1st St., also being developed by TM Associates, will close in December 2021. The sister project to MDL flats will provided 101 units of affordable housing and expanded amenity space.
The Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) program has made a strong delivery to house individuals and families facing homelessness. MDL Flats is already practically full with 14 of the 15 PSH units already approved. The PSH units at MDL Flats are one of the few in the District to provide 4-bedroom homes for the larger families in the District needing permanent homes. Overall, the PSH program has received 54 clients, and housed 46 of them. As the weather cools down, it becomes even harder for our families without a home to receive adequate care and comfort.
We are very grateful to all our supporters who so generously supported our appeal for support of our PSH program on GlobalGiving’s Bonus Day 2021 on Wednesday July 14, 2021. We had set a goal to raise $10,000 to assist at least 5 DC neighbors with household supplies and furniture when they move from homelessness into their new homes. With your help we raised $6,500!
Please note our suggested Giving Opportunities for support of Help UPO Help the DC Homeless is now giving you the opportunity to:
Keep the Homeless of DC in mind by including Help UPO Help the DC Homeless in your year-end giving. They need your help in support of improving their lives. Please make a donation to Help UPO Help the DC Homeless today. Thank you for your generous support.
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