DC Hotel Voucher Program

Under the auspices of D.C. law, the Interagency Council on Homelessness is required to meet the emergency housing needs of both homeless families and homeless individuals in instances of severe weather – whether hot or cold. As a result, the District’s Department of Human Services (DHS) works with hotels and motels in the greater metropolitan area to provide rooms for families and individuals when there are no vacancies at shelters. Due in part, however, to D.C.’s Homeward initiative and other homeless services, the number of participants in the program have dwindled as people have either been transferred to permanent housing or other shelters. As of the District’s Winter Plan 2021, the Department has retained 250 hotel rooms in the Days Inn during winter months. 

D.C. code requires that the Interagency Council on Homelessness provide housing – including hotels or motels if necessary – for people during extreme cold, and that emergency warming shelters open whenever the temperature is expected to dip below freezing, or 40 degrees with precipitation. At its peak in 2017, DHS housed over 900 families in motels over the winter months, costing the city upwards of $28 million for the season. Housing one family in a hotel or motel within the District could cost the city upwards of $3,000 per month, and participants typically utilized the program most during hypothermia season. As of the drafting and finalization of the D.C. Winter 2021 Plan, however, “year-over-year reductions in family homelessness have allowed DHS to close contracted hotels being used for overflow family shelter. However, DHS is planning for up to 250 rooms to serve as overflow family shelter during the upcoming hypothermia season if additional capacity is needed.” As of June 2020, 97 families were still being housed in the Days Inn. 


Publication Date: 2020


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