WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — DC’s newest one-stop-shop to help people leaving homelessness opened on Monday. The building is named The Ethel and is located in the Hill East neighborhood near RFK Stadium.
The Ethel is one of the few buildings in the District that are completely dedicated to supportive housing which is a more holistic approach to getting people back on their feet.
The Ethel will not only be a place to live, but also a place to grow and learn with job skills programs and even cooking classes to help people settle into their new community. This new supportive housing building has 100 units, and community leaders said they hope the Ethel will ensure people don’t find themselves back on the street.
“There will be case managers here, a computer lab, a prep kitchen, a hair salon, spaces in the building where residents can learn new skills and connect with the community,” Mayor Muriel Bowser explained.
Jarea Gipson is one of the newest residents of the Ethel, named after Ethel Kennedy. After her mother and grandmother passed away a few years ago, Gipson found herself at the Harriet Tubman Women’s Shelter. Now, she is signing her lease for her new apartment at the Ethel. She plans on going into cosmetology and then becoming a registered nurse.
“I’m very excited because I can get even more help than what I was already receiving, to make sure that I’m successful at the end of my journey,” Gipson said.
A shortage of caseworkers has long been a problem not only in the District but across the country. Laura Zeilinger, the director of the Department of Human Services, hopes that having some caseworkers on-site will speed up the process from vulnerability to stability.
“We’re not immune from the labor shortage that is consistent in our country, particularly in human care professions and we are experiencing that,” Zeilinger explained. “So right now our case we contract with about more than 17 different organizations that provide supportive services.”
Gipson is ready to move into her new home and hopes others like her can also be placed in supportive housing.
“I want to see a screening for those who would like to help themselves and to be brought out of the fishing boat or trying to see whose needs help more faster than someone else versus someone who’s really trying to help themselves and just needs to be a little bit more seen,” Gipson said.
These units will be supported by a voucher from the city with a total maximum voucher support per unit of $2,648, which includes rent and utilities. City officials explained that the renter contributes 30% of their income.
New numbers from Mayor Bowser’s administration say that almost 7,000 affordable housing units have been created since 2019, meaning the District is halfway to its goal of 12,000 affordable housing units before 2025.