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Number Of Homeless D.C. Families On The Rise

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Homeless individuals and their supporters marched to city hall last week from nearby shelters to lobby council members to restore shelter funding in the 2012 budget.
Patrick Madden
Homeless individuals and their supporters marched to city hall last week from nearby shelters to lobby council members to restore shelter funding in the 2012 budget.

There's been a 7.3 percent increase in the number of homeless families in the District in the past year, according to the Coalition for the Homeless.

Out here on 2nd Street NW, homeless men, women, and families mingle on the street corners near the Community of Creative Nonviolence, one of the largest shelters in the District. Leaning against a concrete wall, Hollis McDade says everyone's worried about a lack of funding for the homeless.

"I think it's going to be terrible in the streets, I think crime is going to go up," he says.

D.C.'s overall population of people suffering from homelessness is hovering around 6,500 mark, according to the numbers released this week by the coalition, but the number of those individuals that are part of entire homeless families is increasing.

Now, the concern is that a lot of the funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that had been used to arrest this problem are drying up, and activists wonder where the money will come from. The coalition argues that affordable housing is now more important than ever for families.

The rising number of families suffering from homelessness also comes at the time when D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray has proposed cutting $20 million from services that support the homeless. Shelters face closure, which lead to protests on May 18. In response to the demonstration, D.C. Council Chair Kwame Brown promised to try to restore those cuts in the 2012 budget.

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