Sunday, January 15, 2017

Veteran Homelessness: Conway Residence

The John and Jill Ker Conway Residence on North Capitol Street, Washington, DC


Today's post is about an important milestone in the fight to end veteran homelessness and expand affordable housing options in the nation's capitol.

On Thursday, January 12th, 2017 in the city of Washington, DC, 10 blocks due north of the US Capitol and a 10-minute walk from Union Station, I had the great pleasure of attending the ribbon cutting ceremony and official opening at the Conway Residence. I was the invited guest of a good friend who is now working with Community Solutions, co-developer of the residence.

This outstanding achievement is at the center of a Venn diagram of special interests:
  • Architecture and urban planning; 
  • Military service and veterans affairs; and 
  • Public administration and government. 

I was thrilled to attend, see my old friend again, and meet some fascinating new people. I was impressed as I listened to the remarks made by organizers and developers, new residents, officials from federal and local government, and financiers. In addition to hearing the comments by officials and residents at the ceremony, I was also able to take a tour of the facility and environs. I write to share my experience on the day and to raise awareness about this important and impactful work.

This is the first in a planned series of posts. Soon, I will publish a photo-journal of my experience. Photos are often wonderful souvenirs but to convert photos into effective motivators requires context. So that will be a separate post. I would also like to develop a stand-alone post on the metrics being used by Community Solutions to under-gird their surprising claim that ZERO homelessness among veterans is achievable. I had a brief conversation with  Roseanne Haggerty of Community Solutions on this question, and that deserves special treatment. Meanwhile, for those of you interested in learning more about the Conway Residence, I will conclude this initial post with 6 quotes from various sources which describe the intent, development, and impact of this project.

1. From the home page of Community Solutions
At Community Solutions, we work toward a future without homelessness, in which poverty never follows families beyond a single generation.

2. From the Community Solutions blog post about the 2014 ground breaking ceremony for Conway Residence
Good design can turn a house or apartment into a home, but too often, homeless and low income populations miss out on well-designed, high-quality housing. We're determined to change that.

3. From an Architect Magazine article about the design and construction of a new DC residence featuring permanent supportive housing for formerly homeless Veterans.
After breaking ground in 2014, the John and Jill Ker Conway Residence with permanent supportive housing for homeless veterans and for households that make less than 60 percent of the area median income opened this week. Designed by Washington, D.C.-based firm, Sorg Architects, the 14-story structure features 124 efficiency units with a gym, conference room, and ground-floor retail space.

4. From a report on Permanent Supportive Housing and featuring the Conway Residence by National Homeless Organization
This report examines one housing development which is nearing completion to help address these needs, the John and Jill Ker Conway Residence located on North Capitol Street in Washington, DC. This 124-unit complex includes 60 Permanent Supportive Housing apartments for formerly homeless veterans, 17 apartments reserved to tenants referred by the District’s Department of Behavioral Health, and 47 apartments available for other low-income residents making 60% or less of area median income. Once operational, it will be the largest Permanent Supportive Housing development in the District dedicated to serving veterans struggling with homelessness


5. From the Washington Post article about homeless vets in DC getting a new home to call their own

The first of its kind in the city, it was constructed with a combination of federal, city, private and nonprofit funds. The $33 million building houses 124 one-bedroom efficiency apartments, including 64 additional affordable and low-income units. The veterans pay 30 percent of their income as rent and have on-site supportive services such as social workers, job and education counseling, and mental health specialists. Their average age is 62, and their services are coordinated by case managers who work directly with the D.C. Veterans Administration Medical Center staff.


6. This article about the ribbon cutting ceremony appeared on DC Housing's website.  
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert A. McDonald and District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser joined advocates and housing professionals to open the John and Jill Ker Conway Residence, an architecturally striking apartment building with 60 units of permanent supportive housing for veterans exiting homelessness and 64 affordable and low-income units. The 124-unit mixed income building is among the first of its kind in the country to have full-time, onsite VA case managers. The soaring structure represents an unusual effort to bring outstanding architecture and design to housing for low-income and homeless populations.

Part One: Veteran Homelessness: Conway Residence
Part Two: Veteran Homelessness: Conway Residence Photo Journal TBP
Part Three: Veteran Homelessness: Conway Residence Getting to Zero TBP


Please join us in supporting this and all efforts to end homelessness among veterans! And, as always, thank you for reading PhilosFX. Comments welcome!