Back in January, the District conducted its Point in Time Count, the annual survey of how many people across the city live in homeless situations. This year’s tally of 7,473 marked an 11 percent drop from 2016’s figure, but still well above the national rate. (In 2016, DC’s homelessness rate was more than double that of the entire country’s.)
Still, it’s easy to lose sight of what continues to be one of Washington’s most pervasive problems. Even with city officials stepping up their efforts to combat homelessness—like new investments in the Housing Production Trust Fund and Mayor Muriel Bowser‘s plan to replace the decrepit shelter at the former DC General Hospital with new facilities scattered across the District—it often takes a back seat to other matters.
Today, Street Sense, the weekly paper devoted to coverage of DC’s homeless population, is marshaling a number of media outlets for a one-day “blitz” aimed at sparking a bigger conversation about the issues DC’s homeless face and the potential solutions that can improve the lives of the city’s most vulnerable residents. Washingtonian is participating, along with Washington City Paper, DCist, ThinkProgress, and the Northwest Current.
Street Sense’s project was inspired by the SF Homeless Project, a one-day effort last year in which more than 70 media organizations in and around San Francisco coordinated coverage of homelessness in that city. One of the goals is to show that there is not one single way to present stories about homelessness. Across the DC media organizations participating today will be stories about challenges in finding permanent housing, structural racism in policymaking that addresses homelessness, the struggles faced by LGBTQ youth, and the murky outlook at the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.
“Collaborative reporting takes journalism back to its roots as a public service,” Street Sense editor Eric Falquero writes in his newspaper this week. “Homelessness is a persistent crisis that demands persistent media coverage.”
Washingtonian‘s coverage will be available on the magazine’s website and alongside other participants’ work at DCHomelessCrisis.press.