In 1991, the DC Government was beginning to grasp
of the severity of the homelessness problem in the
district and proposed opening a 50-person emergency
shelter at the Guy Mason Center in upper Georgetown.
The community was not so sure that it had the kind of
problem the city was describing. A volunteer group of
friends, neighbors, and congregations came together
to define the challenge and find a better approach to
helping homeless people in our neighborhood.
Community Council for the Homeless at Friendship Place is the neighborhood's answer to the problem of homelessness. How did the organization become a reality?
First, the volunteers conducted a survey to find out how many people were homeless in our area, and what their needs were. Surveyors found more than 100 homeless men and women living west of Rock Creek Park. Many had been homeless for decades.
The grassroots group decided to create Community Council for the Homeless as a network that would oversee small shelters being opened at St. Alban’s, St. Luke’s, Metropolitan, and St. Paul’s congregations. They chose small shelters so four or five homeless men could relax in places that felt and looked like homes, not warehouses. Volunteers from the congregations and neighborhoods provided meals every evening.
Many of the homeless people in our neighborhood needed more than a shelter bed—they needed access to medical and psychiatric care and support to apply for veteran’s benefits, SSDI, and Section 8 housing. They needed a place where they could rebuild their lives, with the support of the community.
By 1993, the group opened Friendship Place Day Resource Center on Wisconsin Ave. It was a safe place where our homeless neighbors could take a break from the weather, enjoy a cup of coffee and a sandwich, and meet with case workers. Two years later the network for shelters, Community Council for the Homeless, merged with Friendship Place Resource Center to streamline services.
The new Community Council for the Homeless at Friendship Place offers street outreach, a drop-in center, free medical and psychiatric care, supportive services, and case management for those in the small congregation shelters and permanent housing program.
Veronica House and Zeke’s House
Veronica House has been a permanent supportive group home for women since 1995. Zeke's House has been home to five men since 2001. These caring communities have staff support and dedicated volunteers who help with dinner, gardening, and other tasks.
Friendship Place Partners
Friendship Place Partners (FPP) is a group of eight small congregation-sponsored programs for the homeless in Ward 3. All work in a collaborative partnership with Friendship Place.
In Fall 2008 Friendship Place was chosen to be one of seven providers for Mayor Fenty’s new Housing First program. The Neighbors First office originally planned to serve 35 people, but quickly expanded to 65. Within four months, the all-new Neighbors First staff had managed to reach 57 people and encourage them to leave the streets behind and move into their very own apartments. For more on the housing first model, please click here.
Don Boardman, Jean Duff, Lisa Adams, and Dick Dowd
standing outside of the new Friendship Place Community Resource Center in 1993
Frances Andrews signing her lease in 2010.
She is one of the 165 that Neighbors First serves.