From the Executive Director: A “Close-Up” Perspective

Schroeder 2 - CopyDear Village Friends:

You may have seen the article in The Washington Post this week by Petula Dvorak.

I am sure that you have been hearing the many media reports about the situation at DC General. The problem is a very real and pressing one—and yet, the story told publicly often misses much of the overall complexity of the issue. I have been involved in DC’s policy and planning work as a local leader/advocate and also as a member of the DC Interagency Council on Homelessness and have had a “close-up” perspective.

From that perspective, I would like to emphasize the following:

  • For 2 years now, we have seen a dramatic spike in family homelessness in DC (in most cases, “families” are “women with children”); many more families than anticipated came to request shelter in the winter months. Acting on an emergency basis to this crisis, the District housed hundreds of people at DC General and also put families in hotels—an unideal, inefficient solution and one to which there seemed no alternatives given the few resources in the hands of those charged with addressing it
  • Over the past 5 years we HAVE made some progress in addressing individual (often ‘chronic’) homelessness in DC—and programs such as N Street Village’s Erna’s House are examples of what we have accomplished in working together between government funders, private developers, and service providers
  • A situation like DC General however won’t be fixed by simply addressing that crisis, but rather by understanding and beginning to remediate the underlying problems which are causing the crisis…such as:
    –A shrinking and dramatically inadequate amount of affordable (and decent) housing in DC
    –Vast and unyielding socio-economic disparities in education, health, and access to vocational opportunities

We have a lot of work to do in all of these areas and it will take every community, every board/group/mission/organization, AND our government partners to make progress and to address deeply entrenched poverty and its related problems, such as those exemplified by DC General. I always encourage us to remember and share the idea that “we are more alike than we are different.” A few small turns of fate of circumstance could render us in one another’s position—and whether we are motivated by our faith or a sense of justice or compassion—we should fulfill a social compact that ensures equity, dignity and opportunity for everyone.

With thanks to Petula and The Washington Post for printing this article, we DO hold N Street Village as an example of what can be possible. AND it is the dedication and generosity of all of you—our Board, our volunteers, our neighborhood, our contributors and others—who have created this community of compassion and potential.

May we all stay ‘on fire’ for the mission of N Street Village and for the larger objectives of social equity and opportunity that we represent.

With gratitude for all of you, who are so committed and engaged.

Schroeder Stribling
N Street Village
Executive Director

P.S. We did not know that Petula was going to write about N Street Village in her article, it was a nice Tuesday morning surprise.

More reading on the topic:

A Holiday Thank You

You are making a huge difference.  Our staff is humbled by your commitment and is incredibly grateful for all you have done to help our city’s most vulnerable.  To show you our gratitude, we wanted to tell you how much we appreciate you with this video:


As we look forward to a new year, we want to take this time to thank you for your support of N Street Village in 2012. Because of you, we were able to serve over 60% of our city’s homeless women. Whether a woman came to us for just one hot meal or she became a resident in one of our long-term housing programs, we were there to provide her with the care and compassion she needed.

These are just some of things you helped us accomplish in 2012:

  • We increased our housing for vulnerable women by more than 50%.
  • Over 46,000 nutritious meals were served in our drop-in day center.
  • 726 women received care for their bodies, minds, and spirits in our Wellness Center.
  • 95% of clients who found new employment kept their jobs for at least 3 months.
  • We provided affordable housing for low-and moderate-income individuals and families in Eden House, our 51-unit apartment complex.

We look forward to working with you in the coming year to help change the lives of many more women and families for the better.


Post-Storm Update

By Schroeder Stribling, N Street Village Executive Director

Our community is thankful to have made it safely through Hurricane Sandy.  We maintained power throughout the entire storm and there were no significant building problems reported at any of our locations.  Our staff did a great job keeping our most essential services running smoothly.  Our drop-in day center (Bethany Women’s Center) remained open both days to provide basic services to our city’s most vulnerable people and we had no disruption in our provision of safe and warm housing and shelter for 142 formerly homeless women and the more than 50 families and individuals in our affordable housing building.  I want to take this moment to thank the staff of N Street Village who ensured that we continued to offer the hospitality and hope that is our long-standing commitment and the heart of our mission.  Our thoughts are  with those who continue to feel the effects of this devastating storm.

Poverty from a New Perspective

By Schroeder Stribling, N Street Village Executive Director

Washington’s “great divide” goes far beyond that of party politics, and according to a new report on poverty, hits much closer to home than most of us care to believe.

According to this month’s U.S. Census Data report, over 46 million Americans (nearly 1 in 6 people) were living in poverty in 2010—the largest number of Americans in poverty in more than half a century. These latest figures are indicative of nationwide, long-term unemployment, and certainly signal the need for innovative solutions to put Americans back to work.

From my vantage point, the challenge ahead is even greater than job creation. I speak every day with homeless and extremely low-income women in the District – those who are struggling to find their way out of chronic poverty. I work with a community where the median income is $2,400 per year, and where support for those with mental health and physical disabilities and other barriers to employment is more limited than ever. For most of our clients, a home of one’s own is only a hope because our city has a critical shortage of affordable housing and because they lack the steady and adequate income that would be necessary to support it.

Numerous organizations have developed creative solutions to address barriers to individual employment, and their methods are working. For instance, at N Street Village our clients face tremendous obstacles – low literacy, histories of incarceration, mental illness, trauma and addiction. In response, our Education and Employment Center helps chronically unemployed women with job training, placement, and retention programs that work. Last year, 75% of the women who graduated from our home health care training program found jobs, and 96% of the women who received employment retention support from us maintained their jobs for at least three months.

Programs and resources for people in poverty are being cut here in D.C. and across the country – and we are seeing the effects. In August 2011, N Street Village saw a 24 percent increase in the number of women seeking our services as compared to the year prior. We anticipate even greater numbers coming to our doors this fall, as the District’s approved FY 2012 budget removes three out of every five dollars from human support services and other low-income programs. As demand grows and resources diminish, we – and other organizations like ours – will be faced with difficult choices as we strive to provide the health, mental health, housing, and employment services that we know are effective for those in need.

I am encouraged by President Obama’s American Jobs Act, which proposes investments in sector-based training programs and tax credits for employers who take a chance on hiring long-term unemployed workers. While our government officials are strategizing to put America back to work, D.C. residents and the District’s public and private sectors need to act in partnership to protect the remaining services available for our most vulnerable neighbors.   We must support effective programs, and we must invest in them now to prevent longer-term and more costly problems in our future.  I know that if we work together we can create lasting solutions that allow every homeless and low-income person to find a path out of poverty and toward dignity and quality of life.