D.C. Government Slashes Funding for Some of the City's Most Vulnerable Women

Days after the District made the shocking announcement that $20 million had been cut from the homeless services budget for the 2010 fiscal year, advocates and organizations that provide shelter for the homeless are still reeling. One of The Women’s Foundation grantee partners is reaching out for help – as winter approaches and the organizations that assist the homeless face a crisis.

Calvary Women’s Services was notified Monday, September 28, by The Community Partnership for the Prevention of Homelessness (TCP) that contract funding for Calvary would be cut by nearly $75,000 beginning October 1st.  These funds support safe housing and other services for 150 homeless women each year.  TCP is an independent, non-profit corporation that coordinates DC’s Continuum of Care homeless services.

Calvary is one of many social service providers notified of cuts to their existing contracts. Emergency, transitional and supported permanent housing programs were all targeted as the city attempted to close an ever-widening budget gap.  The impact of these cuts on the overall homeless services system is going to be severe, with some housing programs reducing their services and others likely closing programs. 

Although these cuts may provide some immediate relief to the city’s budget problems, the real impact of the cuts will be felt by those in need of safe housing and support services.  Women who have already lost their jobs in this economic crisis will have fewer services and housing options available to them. These cuts will make women who are already at-risk much more likely to end up living on the streets or in unsafe situations.

The women who come to programs like Calvary are survivors of violence, women struggling with mental illness, and women working to overcome addictions.  At Calvary we make sure they have access to all of the services they need to address these challenges – in addition to providing a safe place to live.

We know that programs like ours work.  Every five days a woman moves out of Calvary and into her own home.

We have always relied on the support of both public funding and private donations to make our programs possible.  In the past, supporters have helped us close gaps like this one, and I am hopeful that the community will step up once again.  But I am also concerned that this gap may be too wide for our generous donors to close.

The coming months will be challenging ones for organizations like Calvary, as we try to find ways to continue to provide women in this community with critical, life changing services.  More so, they will be challenging months for women who need services like ours, as they face closed doors and reduced services at programs across the city.

 You can make a difference.  Support Calvary – or another agency facing these cuts – today. 

 Volunteer, donate or learn more at www.calvaryservices.org.

Kris Thompson is the Executive Director of Calvary Women’s Services, recognized as a 2009 Leadership Awardee by The Women’s Foundation.  Learn more about them on their Web site or on Facebook.

Calvary Women's Services: When you're serious about making a change.

Irene, a woman who lives at Calvary Women’s Shelter, recently said, “Calvary’s where you go when you’re serious about making a change.”

Irene credits her own new direction in life to the support she has received at Calvary. “Now, I do what I have to do. I just work on changing from the inside out.”

The J. Jill Compassion Fund was created to help women like Irene.  Each year it awards grants to organizations that help low-income and homeless women become self-sufficient. Calvary Women’s Services was selected as one of 28 organizations across the country to receive a $10,000 grant from the Compassion Fund. This grant helps us continue to provide homeless women in Washington, D.C. with “a safe, caring place for tonight; support, hope and change for tomorrow.”

Each year, we support 150 women as they journey from homelessness to self-sufficiency. Many of the women in our programs have experienced both drug addiction and mental health problems.  Many are survivors of domestic violence.

And all of them have known what it’s like to be without a safe, stable place to live.

Our programs work with women as individuals to empower them to take control of their own lives—helping them not only find permanent housing, but also to address some of the reasons they became homeless. Because our programs are small, our staff can provide personalized support to each woman as she works to become self-sufficient.

Each year, 60 percent of the women who come to Calvary move into their own homes. Many others take positive steps to prepare for independent living.

Earlier this year, The Women’s Foundation recognized Calvary’s work with a Leadership Award in recognition of our work with low-income women and their families.  In addition, they have been providing support for our communications and marketing efforts as part of their technical assistance "beyond the check."     

Kris Thompson is the Executive Director of Calvary Women’s Services, recognized as a 2009 Leadership Awardee by The Women’s Foundation.  Learn more about them on their Web site or on Facebook.