A Discussion on the Homeward DC Program
April 2, 2019
Homelessness is a critical issue that still exists within the District of Columbia today. NYU Washington, DC and Friendship Place co-hosted an evening program with regional and national experts to discuss Homeward DC, a strategic partnership (between the DC government, nonprofits providers, advocates, persons experiencing homelessness, business partners, and the philanthropic community) laid out by Mayor Bowser and her administration in 2015, to end homelessness in the area by 2020.
Homelessness is a solvable issue, and DC is united in its vision to prevent it, or make the experience rare, brief, and non-recurring. What progress has been made to make this a reality?
Speakers for the evening included Laura Zeilinger, Director of the Department of Human Services, Kristy Greenwalt, District of Columbia Interagency Council on Homelessness, Jennifer Knox, Washington Interfaith Network, Waldon Adams, Pathways, and Bruce McNamer, Greater Washington Community Foundation. Broadcast and NPR Journalist, John J. McCloy Visiting Professor of American Studies at Amherst College, and NYU Alum Ray Suarez (CAS '85) moderated the discussion.
Waldon Adams, Street Outreach, Pathways to Housing DC
Fifty-eight year old Waldon Adams is a life-long Washingtonian. He has been homeless, mostly, since the age of 19 (approximately 28 to 30 years). He spent years in the Old St. Elizabeth’s Hospital grounds, every hospital psychiatric ward in DC, detoxes, treatment centers, and shelters, as well as outside, bus stations, hospital waiting rooms, etc.
Adams spent a short stint as a homeless DC taxi driver, living in the cab. He contracted HIV (Symptomatic), resulting in several hospital stays a year in addition to the mental health admissions. He is one of the first people in DC housed under the Housing 1st Permanent Supportive Housing Program (PSH) after a few failed attempts to live in recovery houses, where, if one relapses, eviction is immediate.
During Adams’ first year in housing, he ran his first marathon (followed by another one six months later), and received the 2010 Aidswalk Courage Award, the 2018 Benjamin Cooper Award, and was featured as one of The Poz 100 in America, by Poz Magazine. He has also been featured on numerous websites, social media outlets, WAMU, RunWashington Magazine, and more.
He is a Steering Committee member of The Way Home Campaign and has been sworn in as a member of The Inter-Agency Council on Homelessness DC (ICH). He is a Friendship Place Speakers Bureau member and an Inaugural Miriam’s Kitchen Advocacy Fellow now working as an Outreach Specialist with Pathways to Housing giving direct peer support to people without homes in DC.
To date, Adamas has run 20 marathons, 2 Ultra marathons, completed 10 years in housing, 10 years without smoking, drinking, or drug use despite being treated for HIV, COPD, PTSD, Bipolar disorder, bone deterioration, including 2 great toe fusions, and recent spinal fusion.
Kristy Greenwalt, Director, Housing Policy, United States Interagency Council On Homelessness
Kristy Greenwalt is the Director of Housing Policy for the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH), where she is responsible for managing USICH’s day‐to‐day relationship with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and working with other key partners on affordable and supportive housing issues across the country. Ms. Greenwalt also serves as the lead on research and analysis for the Council. In this capacity, she is responsible for planning and coordinating research studies and projects across the USICH member agencies, as well as assessing and benchmarking progress against Opening Doors, the nation’s first‐ever comprehensive Federal plan to prevent and end homelessness. Prior to joining the Council in October of 2010, she spent the previous 12 years with ICF International, providing research, policy analysis, and program implementation support to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the U.S. Department of Labor, and other Federal agencies around issues related to homelessness, supportive housing, and employment of special needs populations. Ms. Greenwalt has played key roles on several national evaluations of HUD and DOL programs, including an early evaluation of the HUD Continuum of Care concept, an evaluation of HUD employment, training, and self‐sufficiency initiatives, and most recently, an evaluation of the Department of Labor’s Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program (HVRP).
During the past 12 years, Ms. Greenwalt has also served as a national technical assistance provider for HUD’s Office of Special Needs Assistance Programs, with an emphasis on the translation and application of research findings for homeless assistance providers and other practitioners in the field. From early 2009 to fall 2010, Ms. Greenwalt provided full‐time support to HUD on the design and implementation of the Recovery Act‐funded Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re‐Housing Program (HPRP). As one of the top HPRP experts in the country, Ms. Greenwalt played a key advisory role to HUD on emerging policy issues, drafting policy guidance and technical assistance resources, as well as working directly with HPRP grantees to design and implement their programs. Ms. Greenwalt began her policy career in Minnesota, where she worked on fair and affordable housing issues for the State Attorney General’s Office. Ms. Greenwalt earned a Masters Degree in Public Policy from the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute at the University of Minnesota.
Jennifer Knox, Lead Organizer, Washington Interfaith Network
Bio to come...
Bruce McNamer, President and CEO, Greater Washington Community Foundation
Bruce McNamer joined the Greater Washington Community Foundation as President and CEO in June 2015, bringing broad experience in the public, private, and philanthropic sectors. Since arriving at the Foundation he has led the organization through a comprehensive strategic planning process and launched new leadership initiatives such as VoicesDMV, while also recruiting a new leadership team, diversifying the Board of Trustees, and investing substantially in processes and systems.
Bruce came to the Foundation from JPMorgan, where he was the head of global philanthropy and CEO of the JPMorgan Chase Foundation. Prior to JPMorgan, he served as the president and CEO of TechnoServe, a nonprofit organization that works with people in the developing world to build competitive farms, businesses and industries – with operations in 30 countries in Africa, Latin America and India. Before joining TechnoServe in 2004, Bruce was a senior executive/founder in technology start–ups, an investment banker at Morgan Stanley, and a management consultant at McKinsey & Company. Bruce was also a White House Fellow at the National Economic Council and a Peace Corps volunteer in Paraguay.
Bruce received an AB from Harvard and his JD/MBA from Stanford and is a Montana native. Bruce is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a proud member of Leadership Montgomery 2017 and Leadership Greater Washington 2018, as well as the Prince George’s County Business Roundtable.
Laura Green Zeilinger, Director, Department of Human Services (DHS)
Laura Green Zeilinger has served as the Director of the Department of Human Services (DHS) since January 2015. In this capacity, Director Zeilinger is responsible for a 1,200-person agency that is charged with empowering every District resident to reach their full potential by providing meaningful connections to work opportunities, economic assistance, and supportive services.
In this role, Director Zeilinger has focused on implementing solutions to end homelessness, enhancing the system of supports offered through TANF, improving outcomes for youth who show signs of risk and modernizing the Department’s customer service delivery model. Under her leadership, DHS launched a prevention program and other reforms that led to a 40% decrease in family homelessness between 2016 and 2018 while maintaining year-round access to shelter and developed a new model for shelter grounded in neighborhood-based, service-enriched programs. Working with stakeholders and Council, DHS implemented an overhaul of the TANF Program to end the 60-month cliff and better support families to meet their employment and education goals. In partnership with the Office of the Attorney General’s Office and law enforcement agencies, DHS expanded youth diversion programs that strengthening families and helping young people find a path to safe and healthy development. In addition, the Department completed a business process redesign for administration of benefits that resulted in approximately 85 percent of applications, renewals, and changes being completed at the first customer interaction at ESA Service Centers.
Ms. Zeilinger is an attorney with a long-standing commitment to underserved populations. Prior to re-joining DHS, she served as the Executive Director of the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, where she was responsible for the implementation of Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness, an effort that includes the coordination of Federal homelessness policies among 19 Federal departments and agencies, as well as partnerships with State and local communities, non-profits, and the private sector. She joined USICH in 2011, having previously served as Deputy Director.
Previously, Ms. Zeilinger served at the District of Columbia Department of Human Services (DHS) as Deputy Director for Program Operations. There, she led the creation of more than 1,000 units of permanent supportive housing as part of the Homeless No More Plan and designed and implemented the District’s Housing First Initiative.. Prior to her work with DHS, Ms. Zeilinger served as the Mayor’s liaison to DHS and the Office of Disability Rights. She has also led international economic development efforts, managing a technical assistance project to reform the pension system in the Republic of Kazakhstan.
Ms. Zeilinger is an alumna of Sarah Lawrence College and a graduate of the Washington College of Law at American University. She and her family have lived in Washington, DC for over two decades.
Veteran journalist Ray Suarez (CAS '85) was most recently the host of Al Jazeera America’s daily news program, Inside Story. Before coming to AJAM, Suarez spent 14 years as a correspondent and anchor at public television’s nightly newscast, The PBS NewsHour where he rose to become chief national correspondent. During his years at The NewsHour, Suarez covered the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington, four presidential elections, broadcast from the floor of seven party political conventions, moderated two presidential primary candidates’ debates, reported from the devastating Haitian earthquake, the 2006 Mexico elections, the H1N1 virus pandemic in Mexico, and on the explosion of tuberculosis/HIV co-infection in South Africa among hundreds of other stories.
Before arriving at The NewsHour Suarez was the Washington-based host of NPR’s Talk of the Nation for six-and-a-half years. During Suarez’ time as host, the program’s carriage more than doubled to more than 150 radio stations, and the audience more than tripled in size to two-and-a-half million. The New York Times called Suarez the “thinking man’s talk show host,” and “a national resource.” The magazine Utne Reader called him a “visionary.” Talk of the Nation made history, broadcasting live coast to coast across South Africa and across the United States, connecting these two audiences to talk about the post-apartheid future during the first elections after liberation. During Northern Ireland’s first Christmas in peace after decades of The Troubles, Talk of the Nation became the first radio program ever simulcast over Ireland’s RTE, Britain’s BBC, and NPR in the United States.