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.

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:
  • 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 All publications will credit the author.


Contact: Elizabeth Falcon – – 202-745-0902 x205 – – 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.


  • 1919 Calvert Street Tenants’ Association
  • 5741 Colorado Cooperative LCA
  • 930,940,960 Randolph Street NW Tenant Association
  • 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


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.


3rd Place Adult Winner

March 31, 2015

Our third place winner, Valerie Person, gives a detailed and emotional account of her dynamic definition of home. As a daughter, mother, and grandmother she has experienced different experiencse in her life that have shaped her descriptive meaning of what home is to her.

Valerie Person_Swan Gray_Dynise Coogler 3

Valerie Person (left) seen accepting her 3rd place award with fellow essay finalists.

Home is Where the Heart Is
A home is a special place to have, because there is love. I feel so peaceful and loved just to sit in my home and read a book, watch TV, and sit at my computer enjoying the quietness…. My life has not been all that good. I lost my way, my children, grandchildren, family and my home. I was addicted to drugs for years and had nowhere to live. I thank God for delivering me.

While living with my sons we had good times when I was not doing drugs. They did not have everything they wanted, but they did not go without on the holidays either. I still cooked during those times and the love was still there, but in their eyes and heart, they were hurting. Sometimes I did not know how to feel. I knew that we love each other, but to them I had a different way of showing mine. Today I know that there is nothing like having family. Now I have a roof over my head, a warm bed and my family support. I feel safe and comfortable, protected, peaceful and loved. I do not have to worry about where I would sleep anymore. My family comes and celebrates my birthdays and Thanksgiving with me. I feel the love and peace in my heart knowing that I have a second chance to be with them. God’s presence flows through my home. It is a blessing knowing that he will never leave me.

I love when my grandchildren come over on weekends. We pray, sing, read our bibles and let God’s presence come down. We are always doing something together. I just love the smiles on their faces when they walk in and just light up the house. They are as happy to be with me as I am with them. We are always glorifying God. My youngest granddaughter she gets on her knees every time she hears the song “Pray”. In church that is the song that we sing, during prayer time. They love going to church with me. They sing and they love playing the games on TV. The aroma of the food I cook is a wonderful smell in the air all over the house. I teach them how to bake cakes, doughnuts and cupcakes. We have a ball. Sometimes I cannot wait for them to go sleep. They can be a handful but I love them all.

The joy that I have in my home is a glorious feeling. I thank God for all he is doing in my life. My home is where the heart is. It is the love we all share when we come together under one roof. Our love is from the heart and it is unconditional. We have our difficulties, but we still love each other. Having a home is a blessing.

1st place youth entry

March 24, 2015

Aniya Ward

A very proud and gleeful Aniya, as she accepts her 1st place award.

Our first place youth winner, Aniya Ward, gives a symbolic definition of what home means to her.  She is well aware of the disadvantages of those without homes to call their own, but explains the importance of happiness in everything that she does.  Congrats on being this year’s first place winner!

1st Place | Youth Category
“Home”, home is a place where I feel free. Home, home is the place where I can be anyone I want to be. My home to me is music. When I sing I feel peace, I feel calm, and I feel that absolutely nobody can get to me. They say home is where you live, but I think otherwise. To me, home can be anywhere, as long as you feel like you can be yourself. Where I was raised, I was taught to respect others, and to treat other people how I wanted to be treated. I take everything that I have ever learned, and I use it towards music. Every note I hit when I sing is magic. Even if I mess up I know that it’s ok. Usually, when I mess up anything at school, I put a lot of pressure on myself because I want everything that I do, to be done perfectly. But at home I feel serenity. As a youth, I’m grateful to even have a place to call home. I’m grateful to have a place to rest my head, and dance all day until my feet hurt because not everyone has that. Where I live is a place where I can learn from my mistakes, perfect my crafts, and strive to be the best. Unfortunately people don’t have the open doors to work on their life goals no matter how talented they are. To the people who are associated with the homeless environment, I truly believe that they deserve to have a place to call home. They deserve to know that they deserve the best, and they deserve to have a chance to succeed and be the best. My home is my open door to success, but most importantly “Home Is Where the Heart Is”.

2nd Place Youth Entry

March 17, 2015

Charles Barley

Our second place youth writing winner, Charles Barley, accounts his transition from his old home into his new home. Here, in this subtle yet sentimentally driven entry, Charles magnifies the little things that he thinks make his home a very special one.

Home Sweet Home

My home is a sweet home. As a kid growing up, I used to hang outside with my friends. I didn’t spend much time at home. I loved the streets more than coming home. Then, we moved to my new home. It wasn’t brand new, but new to me. We were the first ones to move from the old neighborhood. I liked staying inside playing games and wrestling with my dad. This made my house a home. This is a home sweet home. When I think of home, it brings back memories of a place where I play games, dance, and go outside with family and friends. My memories of home are fun. Home is more than a place that I live. It is more than a place that I lay my head. It is a safe place where I wake up in the mornings. My home is home sweet home.

3rd Place Youth Entry 2015

March 10, 2015

Alex Merino_Charles Barley_Aniya WardOur third place youth winner, Alex Merino (left), has high hopes to be a professional soccer player one day.  He and his family found a comfortable place to call their home with the help of Jubilee Housing.  Alex Merino expresses his aspirations and satisfaction with this detailed entry.

3rd Place Youth Entry: Alex Merino

Home is a special place for me because it is a place I can be secure in and I am always happy with my family. Everything is joyful in my apartment with my mom and my family. It is joyful because everybody makes me happy in my home and my home is so blessed because Jubilee Housing gave it to us. My heart feels good there. It is so fun in my house because there are games to play and I have space to play with my brother. If I wasn’t in Jubilee Housing in my apartment learning with the youth programs, I would be failing my grades. I would have an F in each class I went to. Even if I tried my hardest nothing would be better than a place that is quiet so I could hear myself think. My favorite place about my home is that everything there is mine. If my family didn’t own it, I wouldn’t be so happy and joyful. Without my house I would be starving to death because we would have no place to put our food. Even if I had five dollars or so, I wouldn’t have any food because in the streets all the rats would touch it. When I grow up I want my home to be a place where I could live and offer my space to other homeless people and kids so they could live in and that they won’t get sick outside or die from thunder if it is thundering or lightening. I want to be a famous soccer player when I grow up and I would want a mansion so everyone who is special could fit inside. Even if there were 100 homeless people I could fit them all in my house. That is why housing is so special to me because Jubilee Housing is teaching me how to have a home and be a good soccer player. They teach me to reach out to others, like homeless people, so they could be okay and succeed through the rest of their lives. Home is special to me because I know nothing will stop me reaching my sweet dreams!