CNHED grieves the death of longtime Executive Director Robert Pohlman

April 26, 2018

Washington, D.C. – With profound sadness, the Coalition for Nonprofit Housing & Economic Development (CNHED) announces that its longtime, 15-year Executive Director Robert “Bob” Pohlman died yesterday, Thursday, April 26.

Bob was a beloved figure in the community development field – and a great friend and colleague to so many of us. He served as CNHED’s founding Executive Director from 2000 –2014, and under his tireless leadership, CNHED grew to be widely recognized as the leading advocacy and capacity building organization in the District of Columbia for community development.

Bob is perhaps best known at CNHED for his work in helping to create and strengthen the District’s Housing Production Trust Fund. Under his direction, CNHED commissioned a study of housing trust funds in 2000 in which it recommended that the District dedicate a portion of the Deed Recordation and Transfer Tax to support the Housing Production Trust Fund.  Shortly thereafter in 2001, legislation was introduced and CNHED then joined with other organizations to advocate for its adoption. Since 2002, CNHED has helped gain nearly $1 billion for the Housing Production Trust Fund, resulting in the acquisition, production or preservation of more than 10,000 affordable homes for low and moderate income DC residents.

Other major accomplishments of CNHED during Bob’s tenure included successfully advocating with allies for the establishment of the Local Rent Supplement program that assists more than 3,500 extremely low income families;  carrying out a highly effective “Housing For All” campaign that engaged thousands of District residents to create the political will to invest hundreds of millions in funding for a continuum of housing affordable to all DC residents; and conducting a capacity building program that trained nearly 5,000 community development professionals.

He served on both of the District’s Comprehensive Housing Strategy Task Forces; the DC Tax Revision Commission; was Chair of the Housing and Community Development Reform Advisory Commission; the District of Columbia Housing Authority Advisory Committee, the Housing Production Trust Fund Advisory Committee, and numerous other community advisory committees.

Bob’s work at CNHED followed a 23-year career in the District of Columbia government, where he served as Director of the Department of Housing and Community Development, Deputy Mayor for Finance, and Chief Financial Officer. His first post with the DC government was with the Model Cities Program, first as Fiscal Monitor, then as Budget and Accounting Officer. Bob began his career as an auditor in Chicago, but found his calling in public service while serving in Jacksonville, Texas, as a VISTA Volunteer with Volunteers In Service to America.

Bob was a deliberative and thoughtful person – not only did he have a spreadsheet for almost everything, he had a wry smile for everyone. He had tremendous energy and commitment to public service, having retired not once, but twice. And after his latest retirement, from CNHED, Bob remained available to share his experience and expertise. We will forever be grateful for his contributions to the residents of the District of Columbia and the community development field.

On behalf of CNHED’s staff, Board of Directors, and our 140+ organizational members, we thank and pay our deepest respects to Bob’s wife Dorothy, daughters Kim and Lindsey, and all of his family.

Additional information about ways we can all honor Bob’s life will be forthcoming, but the service will be at Christ Lutheran Church, 5101 16th St NW, on May 19th at 2:00 pm.

Please leave remembrances our Facebook wall.

 

Emily Price, Chair of the Board of Directors

Steve Glaude, President & CEO

Anacostia Waterfront Trust Has Premium Stormwater Retention Credits for Sale

August 29, 2017

The Anacostia Waterfront Trust has asked us to let members know that is offering for immediate sale 27,092 DOEE-certified Premium Stormwater Retention Credits at $2.50 per credit.

The stormwater retention credits were certified by the DC Department of Energy and Environment on May 10, 2017.  They can be used immediately to meet regulatory obligations, or can be banked indefinitely for future use.

The asking price is in the middle of the spectrum of current prices, and is substantially below the current compliance price: the DOEE’s “Stormwater In-Lieu Fee” of $3.61 per gallon per year.

The Trust’s credits are listed as premium because they were expressly produced to have maximum water quality and social impact. The real-world impact of stormwater retention credits varies widely depending on their location. Not all credits actually reduce pollution and erosion to DC’s waterways; these do, measurably protecting the Watts Branch and the Anacostia River. No credits produced so far except for ours provide income to a nonprofit doing good in the east of the river community; these do.

The Trust chose as its initial partner the Progressive National Baptist Convention, which was the spiritual home of Dr. King.  Its national headquarters are in Ward 7, at the former Nannie Helen Burroughs National Training School for Women and Girls, just up the hill from the Anacostia’s largest tributary. The bioretention facility filters street and parking lot runoff, not only maximizing pollution prevention, but providing an income stream to PNBC to support its programs in the District.

Special offer: the Trust will gladly work closely with the purchaser to let the public know that the purchaser is not only directly helping to restore and protect the Anacostia River, but helping to support an important community partner in Ward 7.

For information, contact Merrit Drucker at the Anacostia Waterfront Trust at MDrucker@Anacostiatrust.org.

DC Small Biz TakeOver 2016

April 21, 2016

Did you know that May 1-7, 2016 is National Small Business Week? The Coalition for Nonprofit Housing and Economic Development (CNHED) is organizing and promoting events and activities in celebration of the District’s small business community for DC’s own DC Small Biz TakeOver 2016!

There are a host of events and activities designed specifically for start-up and existing businesses throughout the entire week. We’re kicking off the week’s events by commemorating the one-year anniversary of CNHED’s Small Business Policy Project (SBPP) launch of DCSmallBizLoans.com, an online lending platform. We’re also sharing information about our second website, DCSmallBizHelp.com which is an online community where small businesses can find the help they need.

Whether you’re a small business, a supporter, or an organization providing assistance to small business, you can join in the week’s coordinated activities!  Check out the activities below to learn more:

 

Overview of the week’s events:

Monday, May 2
DC Small Biz Resource Mini-Clinic Pop-Ups. Stop by and receive free technical assistance and other resources for your small business. Free giveaways, music, and fun while supplies last!  Three locations:

  • DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs Building (1100 Fourth St, SW) from 8:30 am- noon
  • Ben’s Chili Bowl (1001 H St. NE) from 11:00 am – 2:00 pm
  • Third location coming soon!

Destination Congress Heights Ribbon-cutting for their new Main Streets program
9:30 am – 10:30 am at 3110 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. with Mayor Bowser, Councilmember May and the Office of Planning.

Tuesday, May 3 

POWER UP DC Forum. Join us, DC Health Link & other partners at our FREE small business forum: POWER UP DC 2016 for a range of business-focused workshops; get new information about small business marketplace provisions of the Affordable Care Act; come network, build business relationships and more.

Wednesday, May 4 

CNHED’s Happy Hour. Come out to CNHED’s happy hour for great company and brews and bites half off from 5:00 – 7:00 pm.

 

Thursday, May 5 

DCRA Business Matchmaking Event. Get one-on-one business matchmaking assistance from representatives of the from 4 pm – 7pm

Friday, May 6 –

Intro to DISB’s Access to Capital Programs 8:30 – 10:30 am Mt. Vernon UMC (900 Mass Ave)

Twitter Thunder Clap. Share your favorite moments through our Twitter Thunder Clap at 2:30 pm.

 

WAYS TO GET INVOLVED

 

Spread the Word/ Communications & Marketing Opportunities

We’re expecting some major media attention this week, so be sure to send us information about your events – we want to highlight your work!  You will soon receive a communications packet that includes sample tweets, Facebook posts, and more to help you spread the word.

 

 

 

Promote our organizations’ events

Planning a grand opening or customer appreciation day? Hosting a special training or other event? Throughout the week, we’ll be promoting your events, so whatever it is, send us the details and we’ll include it in our overall marketing. Here are a few events we know about:

          • Congress Heights launches “Congress Heights Main Street” on [date tbd]
          • DCRA Business Matchmaking Event on May 5
          • Capitol City CDC Fasttrac New Ventures training
          • NCRC Women’s Business Center’s live-stream on Facebook for free technical assistance on Tues at Power UP conference
          • Howard SBDC
          • DC Fashion Foundation business pitch training event on [date tbd]featuring [Name], [executive producer/ whatever title] from ABC’s popular television show “Shark Tank”
          • http://dcra.dc.gov/page/small-biz-week-2016

 

WAYS TO GET INVOLVED

 

Spread the Word/ Communications & Marketing Opportunities

We’re expecting some major media attention this week, so be sure to send us information about your events – we want to highlight your work!  You will soon receive a communications packet that includes sample tweets, Facebook posts, and more to help you spread the word.

Volunteer at one of the Mini-Clinics

Give your organization exposure and reach more clients at one of the DC Small Biz Resource Mini-Clinic Pop-Ups!

Promote our organizations’ events

Planning a grand opening or customer appreciation day? Hosting a special training or other event? Throughout the week, we’ll be promoting your events, so whatever it is, send us the details and we’ll include it in our overall marketing. Here are a few events we know about:

    • Congress Heights launches “Congress Heights Main Street” on [date tbd]
    • DCRA Business Matchmaking Event on May 5
    • Capitol City CDC Fasttrac New Ventures training
    • NCRC Women’s Business Center’s live-stream on Facebook for free technical assistance on Tues at Power UP conference
    • Howard SBDC
    • DC Fashion Foundation business pitch training event on [date tbd]featuring [Name], [executive producer/ whatever title] from ABC’s popular television show “Shark Tank”

Fulfill the Promise: Our recommendations for FY17

February 29, 2016

Rall house 2

Everyone deserves a safe and affordable place to call home and no one should be homeless for years. Fortunately, the Mayor and DC Council have made a promise to ensure affordable housing, end chronic homelessness, and build a DC where all residents thrive. To fulfill these promises, several key investments are needed in the FY 17 budget. Join us at the Fulfill the Promise rally!

Commit at least $100 million a year to the Housing Production Trust Fund.

The Housing Production Trust Fund is crucial to creating and preserving affordable housing for District residents. The Trust Fund plays a key role in the preservation of existing affordable housing by enabling tenants to purchase their buildings and preserve them as affordable.  It also helps to build new affordable housing for rent or purchase and creates new permanent supportive housing units to end chronic homelessness.

End chronic homelessness by 2017 and ensure more housing options for families. 

We support Homeward DC, the District’s plan to end all homelessness, including the goal to end chronic homelessness by 2017.  Approximately 2,000 new units of housing are needed to end chronic homelessness for individuals.  We urge elected officials to meet at least half of the need in FY 17, and the remainder in FY 18. In particular we recommend: 

  • Investing $8.6 million in Permanent Supportive Housing and $6.8 million in Targeted Affordable Housing for individuals in FY17.
  • Investing $6.2 million in Permanent Supportive Housing and $4 million in Targeted Affordable Housing for families in FY17.
  • Continuing the production of Permanent Supportive Housing and Targeted Affordable Housing for individuals and families through the Consolidated Request for Proposals to ensure a long-term stock of housing that meets the needs of DC’s homeless population.


Fund the Home Purchase Assistance Program (HPAP) at a level of $13.2 million for a robust first-time homeownership program.

Downpayment assistance is a critical tool to help first-time buyers purchase homes in the District. This increase of approximately $4 million would allow DHCD to fund 240 loans, the agency’s goal for FY16, with an increased award amount.

Commit an additional $5 million to the Tenant-Based Local Rent Supplement Program (LRSP) to serve new families on the waiting list for affordable housing.

Tens of thousands of families are waiting for an affordable housing voucher allowing them to have housing security and relieve their high housing cost burden. Continued investments in the tenant-based LRSP are critical to provide these families with affordable housing options.

Commit an additional $3.6 million to the Local Rent Supplement Program (LRSP) to increase the production of housing for residents and serve 300 extremely low-income households. 

LRSP is crucial to the production of rental housing for extremely low income families and individuals in the District. This funding is needed to meet the goals of the Homeward DC plan by supporting the production of Permanent Supportive Housing in new developments, including the 5% required in all DHCD-funded projects.  It is also needed to ensure the Housing Production Trust Fund meets its statutory requirements to use 40% of the Trust Fund at 0-30% AMI to serve individuals and families with extremely low incomes.

Preserve affordable housing and protect vulnerable tenants through Rent Stabilization Reforms.

The District boasts the nation’s strongest rent stabilization laws, but significant loopholes are undermining the laws’ goals of preserving affordable housing and protecting vulnerable tenants. Reforms to the rent control law must:

  • Protect seniors and people with disabilities from extreme rent increases
  • Preserve affordable rent stabilized housing
  • Improve the petition process to ensure fairness to tenants
  • Improve the Voluntary Agreement process to preserve rent-stabilized housing
  • Prohibit the selective or delayed implementation of approved rent increases in petitions
  • Clarify the definition of “substantial rehabilitation”

 

Youth and Adult Writing Contest 2015

November 18, 2015

8ce8abc376ab0fba35c99465c926ad97Home Sweet Home

At CNHED’s Housing For All Campaign, we know how sweet a home can be. A home is a special place. It may hold sweet memories or be a place that gives you sweet dreams.

Submit your essay, poem, or story that tells us what makes a home so sweet, and you could be a winner! Submissions are due Friday, January 8. We encourage everyone young and old to share their stories as we work to win Housing For All in DC. See Contest Guidelines below.

Prompt: Tell us what makes a home “Home Sweet Home.” It could be where you live now, where you once lived, or where you hope to live.

Prizes:
First Prize: $100 Gift Certificate
Second Prize: $50 Gift Certificate
Third Prize: $25 Gift Certificate
Awarded in both youth and adult categories

Download the flier and share with your networks!

Contest Guidelines:

  • Submissions should be no more than 500 words- essay, story or poetry accepted.
  • Submissions are due January 8, 2016.
  • Submissions and questions should be directed to Elizabeth Falcon: housingforall@cnhed.org
  • Authors should state if they are applying in the adult or youth category. (Authors over 18 should submit in the “adult” category).
  • Authors who have won in previous years are not eligible to win again.
  • Winners will be informed by January 15, 2016.
  • Winners will be recognized at the Housing For All Rally in February – details will be announced to all participants. All are welcome to attend. The first place winner in each category will be asked to read their winning submission.
  • Any submissions become the property of CNHED. Winning entries will be published on our blog www.cnhed.org/housing-for-all-campaign/blog. All publications will credit the author.

 

Contact: Elizabeth Falcon – housingforall@cnhed.org – 202-745-0902 x205 – www.cnhed.org – Download the flier

Take Action Today! Trust Fund at Risk

May 27, 2015

In the budget released at 5:30 pm last night, Chairman Mendelson proposed moving $9 million that should go to the Housing Production Trust Fund in FY15 to be moved to FY16, then using $9 million from FY16’s funding to pay for other programs. This last minute change is a loss of $9 million that would have been used to purchase, renovate, preserve or build affordable housing this year. The budget as written still reflects $100M in FY16, but also loses $9 million this year. We shouldn’t lose Trust Fund money this year in order to have it next year.

Call Mendelson before 10 AM –  (202) 724-8032

Hello my name is ______________ and I live in ____________________.
I am calling to express my disappointment that Chairman Mendelson’s proposed budget reflects a $9 million loss to Housing Production Trust Fund compared to the budget proposed by the Mayor and the Housing Committee.
This last minute change would cost the District over 100 affordable housing units. I support $100 million in the Trust Fund next year, and full funding from dedicated sources this year.

The Coalition for Nonprofit Housing and Economic Development and its Housing For All Campaign:

  • Support the use of dedicated funding from the Deed Recordation and Transfer Tax automatically being directed to HPTF. Dedicated funding for HPTF is what turned the program from an idea into a real mechanism to invest in our communities for over 12 years. Unfortunately, redirecting funds already dedicated to the Trust Fund has plagued the program as elected leaders have turned to HPTF to fund other programs. This costs the District through the affordable homes lost and opportunities to build new homes missed.
  • Challenge the notion that housing programs should be pitted against each other in the local budget. Even this year where affordable housing programs have seen meaningful increases, the proportion of the DC budget that is directed to affordable housing is a tiny sliver of our local investments. We should not be asked to choose between building affordable housing this year or next year AND we should not be asked to choose between the production of affordable housing and leasing or homelessness-ending tools.
  • Support the Local Rent Supplement Program, Permanent Supportive Housing and Targeted Affordable Housing. CNHED and the Housing For All Campaign have advocated for years to invest in a Continuum of Housing to address the diverse housing needs in our community. Each tool is critical to meeting long and short term housing demands in our rapidly increasing housing market.

We support $100 million for the Housing Production Trust Fund

May 19, 2015

Thanks to the over 100 organizations and hundreds of individuals who signed on to support the Housing Production Trust Fund! We have shared the letter and your names with the DC Council and will continue to encourage them to invest in the Trust Fund and other affordable housing programs at our Advocacy Day and on the budget vote day May 27. Download the full letter with organizations and individual signatures here

Dear Members of the Council of the District of Columbia,

Fund $100 million in the Housing Production Trust Fund this year.

The DC Council should continue to lead the District to invest in affordable homes in our communities. As you make final decisions on the District’s budget, we urge the Council to affirm the commitment made in the Housing Production Trust Fund Baseline Funding Amendment Act of 2014 and ensure $100 million remains in the Housing Production Trust Fund in the Fiscal Year 2016 Budget.

Since 2002, the Housing Production Trust Fund (HPTF) has been providing affordable homes to thousands of District residents. Unfortunately, it has not had consistent funding during that time, and the ability of the Housing Production Trust Fund to keep affordable homes in our communities and build new ones has waxed and waned. With housing costs rising and District residents forced to leave, pay more than half their income in rent, or seek services from our homeless shelter system, we urge the Council to ensure that the District invests in developing and preserving affordable homes.

The Housing Production Trust Fund is key to the preservation and development of homes District residents can afford.

  • It has produced and preserved over 8,500 affordable homes across every ward in the District. There are over 3,400 more affordable homes in the pipeline with Trust Fund commitments.
  • HPTF funds the creation and preservation of a Continuum of Housing including affordable rental, homeownership, cooperatives, and supportive housing in all eight wards.
  • All funds directed to HPTF in previous budgets have already been committed to affordable homes in projects that have been assessed by DHCD.
  • HPTF is crucial to meet the District’s long-term goals of addressing homelessness through permanent supportive housing for the chronically homeless and providing affordable units for homeless individuals and families.
  • Funding from HPTF is used to purchase and rehab deeply affordable and federally subsided buildings.
  • A successful preservation strategy relies on HPTF to keep District residents in their homes and keep costs low in the long term.

We, the undersigned organizations and individuals, call on the Council to invest $100 million in the Housing Production Trust Fund in the Fiscal Year 2016 budget.

ORGANIZATIONS

  • 1919 Calvert Street Tenants’ Association
  • 5741 Colorado Cooperative LCA
  • 930,940,960 Randolph Street NW Tenant Association
  • AARP DC
  • All Souls Church
  • Anacostia Economic Development Corporation
  • Answer Title and Escrow
  • Aspen Court Tenant Association
  • Audubon Enterprises
  • Brightwood Gardens Cooperative
  • Brookland Tenant Association
  • Calvary Women’s Services
  • Capitol Hill Village
  • Central Union Mission
  • City First Homes
  • Coalition for Nonprofit Housing and Economic Development
  • Coalition for Smarter Growth
  • Coalition for the Homeless
  • Community Connections, Inc.
  • Community Preservation and Development Corporation
  • Cornerstone, Inc.
  • D.C. Catholic Conference
  • D.C. Coalition for Housing Justice, Inc.
  • D.C. Tenants’ Rights Center
  • Dance Visions of Art Non-Profit
  • Dantes Partners
  • DC Advocates for the Arts
  • DC Coalition for Housing Justice, Inc.
  • DC Fair Budget Coalition
  • DC Fiscal Policy Institute
  • DC Hunger Solutions
  • DC Statehood Green Party
  • Development Corporation of Columbia Heights
  • Elia Law Group, PLLC
  • Emory Beacon of Light, Inc.
  • Enterprise Community Partners
  • Fort Steven Tenant Association
  • GCS, Inc.
  • Girard House LLC
  • Good Faith Communities Coalition
  • Green Door
  • Habitat for Humanity of Washington, DC, Inc.
  • Harkins Builders, Inc.
  • Health Leads
  • HIPS
  • Holbrock Estates | PAAVEmgmt
  • Homeless Children’s Playtime Project
  • Hope and a Home
  • Housing Association of Nonprofit Developers (HAND)
  • Housing Options & Planning Enterprises, Inc.
  • Housing Protection Home Fund
  • Hyacinth’s Place
  • Jefferson Homestead People United Tenants Association
  • Jews United for Justice
  • Joseph Development Inc.
  • Jubilee Housing
  • Justice Advocacy Alliance
  • Klein Hornig LLP
  • Latino Economic Development Center
  • LeadingAge DC
  • Liz Bramlet Consulting, LLC
  • Local Initiatives Support Corporation
  • Luzon Tenant Association
  • Madre Tierra Collective
  • Manna Inc.
  • Metropolitan Washington Council AFL-CIO
  • Mi Casa Inc.
  • Miriam’s Kitchen
  • N Street Village
  • National City Christian Church
  • National Housing Trust
  • New Community Land Trust
  • NHT/Enterprise Preservation Corp
  • Open Arms Housing, Inc.
  • People for Fairness Coalition
  • PFFC Downtown DC Public Restroom Committee
  • Positive Force DC
  • PPS, LLC
  • Riggs Plaza Tenants Association
  • Sarah’s Circle
  • Seabury Resources for Aging
  • SOME, Inc. (So Others Might Eat)
  • Somerset Development Company
  • Southeast Ministry
  • Statehood Green Party
  • THC Inc.
  • The Black Swan Academy
  • The New Capitol Park Towers Tenants Association
  • The Way Home
  • Tyler House Tenant Organization
  • United Food and Commercial Workers Local 400
  • University Legal Services
  • Urban Focus
  • Victory Housing, Inc.
  • Washington Area Community Investment Fund (WACIF)
  • Washington Business Group
  • Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless
  • Washington Peace Center
  • WC Smith
  • We Are Family Senior Outreach Network
  • Western Presbyterian Church
  • Westminster Presbyterian Church
  • Woodbury Fund
  • Young Leaders in Affordable Housing

 

Mayor and Council support investments in affordable housing

April 14, 2015

IMG_1083

Housing For All supporters out at the Council on Monday

Yesterday, Mayor Bowser presented her budget to the DC Council in a hearing where she and the Councilmembers were able to highlight achievements and raise concerns. CNHED was there to support investments made in affordable housing and to address homelessness in the District. In opening statements, nearly all members of the DC Council applauded the $100 million investment in the Housing Production Trust Fund by name. Many also shared appreciation that Mayor Bowser increased investments to improve services to DC’s homeless families and individuals.

Housing and Community Development Committee Chair Anita Bonds expressed her appreciation to the Mayor starting off “specifically thanking you for commitment that Housing Production Trust Fund is fully funded at $100 million.” Committee member Silverman added, “I was happy to see in the budget a fully-funded Housing Production Trust Fund. We’ve lost more than 20,000 affordable housing units in the past decade, which is astounding.  We’re doing a good job of attracting new residents and creating jobs, but it’s difficult for our workers to afford to live here.”

Mayor Bowser reiterated her commitments to addressing DC’s housing and homelessness issues. Many investments in this year’s budget are towards the Interagency Council on Homelessness’ goals of making homelessness rare, brief, and non-reoccurring. She specifically talked about the $100 million for the Housing Production Trust Fund saying that it is more than a tag-line, rather it is “a promise to do everything we can to preserve and create affordable housing.”

Mayor Bowser also previewed that she will be announcing the creation of a preservation strike force to help ensure that DC does not lose some of the most affordable homes we already have.

Mtg w Mayor Bowser

Mayor Bowser met with CNHED before finishing her budget

Some questions arose about the use of the Housing Production Trust Fund. CNHED will continue to work with the DC Council to build their appreciation of the good work the Housing Production Trust Fund does – including the 2,300 homes that are currently in the process of being built or renovated thanks to the Trust Fund. All of the Housing Production Trust Fund investments made in the last two years have gone into those projects, so the $100 million announced this year will be used to create new housing opportunities.

“We encourage the Council to stand with the Mayor and the Council’s unanimous legislation and ensure $100 million remains in the Housing Production Trust Fund and to make investments across the Continuum of Housing in this year’s budget,” said CNHED Executive Director Steve Glaude.

1st place adult winner

April 14, 2015

 

Congratulations to our first place adult winner, Dynise Coogler! Ms. Coogler gives an account of her battle with homelessness with the burden of mental illness.  She also expresses the importance of having a helping heart in the homeless community.  Congrats again Dynise Coogler on being this year’s first place winner!
A House Is Where the Heart Is

Dynise Coogler

The shadows of the house were awash with the eerie glow of the street lights as they filtered through the window. There was no cacophony of street sounds. No metro bus rumbling through the streets, no trucks, no plethora of cars riding past the house. All was dead quiet. And all of it reminded me that I was to be here only a short time. My next move was to be Jordan House; a crisis facility. I was a homeless mental health patient signed onto a crisis facility. A two-fold purpose; get back my mental health and also provide proper housing. Proper housing for the homeless. Homeless…a word that has many meanings. Without a home of your own is what the majority think of when thinking of the word homeless. But to think of the homeless is to think of the corporate body of people walking the streets without a place to go. I was fortunate to have Jordan House. But what of the person asking for spare change. Spare change can help you purchase a single cup of coffee, a hot sandwich or a bus ride to a shelter. A shelter can be a God-sent thing …a place to stay.
In Washington, DC we could use more gifts like a place to stay. It is traditionally called “affordable housing”. This housing is a gift private foundations, corporations, private citizens try to spearhead the move to procure for the homeless. These myriad people work tirelessly to find housing for the homeless. They wrap their collective arms around the homeless and try to help.
The look of quiet desperation is evident on the faces of the homeless, but people can help them to be brave. I used to be homeless. People helped me to develop courage by prayer and just trying to get proper housing. I now stay at Hyacinth’s Place: a place of help and healing that provides for low-income women that are trying to better develop themselves and ready themselves for the future. I made it. Let’s hope that all the homeless of Washington, DC make it. Let’s hope that all are treated with the love and compassion that fosters the belief that home is where your heart is. Let our hearts be with the homeless.

2nd place adult winner

April 7, 2015

Our second place winner, Swan Gray, magnifies the essence of home and hearth.  In this thought provoking account, she writes about the feelings that she had in each house she’s ever lived in- stressing the all time idiom “A house does not make a home, people do.”

Swan Gray  receiving her award for 2nd place winner in adult writing competition. Congratulations!!!

Swan Gray receiving her award for 2nd place winner in adult writing competition. Congratulations!!!

Home Is an Adjective

Home is not a structure made out of bricks and wood or stone or stucco.
It isn’t made up of plaster walls with posters and paintings, or with carpeted rooms and marble counter tops. It doesn’t have an address or an area code.

To a nomad home is an adjective,
a word that describes a feeling or state of being.

I moved a lot as a child, a different house, with a different room and nothing was normal, nothing was ever just mine.

These houses are faded in my memory now,
like well-worn jeans and only glimpses remain.

A darkened attic with slanted walls and where the heat never visited.
A room where the rising sun, streaming through bay windows would wake me and tempted peeping toms.

A studio with a mermaid bathtub and a view of a garden
where my cat chased raccoons away.

A simple wooden shack with holes for windows,
laid where the jungle meets the sea.

These glimpses fill my heart with nostalgia because it reminds me of the words of wisdom my father gave me, or the time I held my sisters little baby body, or the pillow I cried into when I realized that my mother wouldn’t be there to guide me into womanhood.

These glimpses carry with them the moments I discovered my talents, or when I dreamt, both waking and sleeping, and devised plans
for the life I hoped to have.

Home is the hearts of people that you love and that love you, it is the arms of your grandmother, the laughter of your siblings,
the adventures with your friends.

It’s in those moments love creates, when you can just free to be who you are and celebrated. I take home with me wherever I go.

 

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