On Thursday, October 17th,  a substantial WIN contingent attended the Interagency Council on the Homeless meeting including representation from Sasha Bruce,  Latin American Youth Center, St. Stephens,  Brighter Day Ministries, Metropolitan Memorial UMC, Holy Comforter-St. Cyprian, and both Co-Chairs of WIN,  Reverend Jeff Krehbiel and Reverend Anthony Minter, in addition to Lead Organizer Amy Vruno.  On the agenda was the city’s Winter Plan – the plan that dictates how the homeless will be handled on the coldest nights. WIN’s goal was to shine a light on the uncertainty over whether the Hypothermia Plan for the coming winter covers youth under the age of 18.  Two youth who have experienced homelessness, Davon and Roniece reminded all in the room of the human faces affected by policy decisions. They testified to the need for covering youth in the Winter Plan, and for adequate services year-round. To quote Davon: “As the weather gets colder, it only makes the situation worse as outside becomes even more unsuitable place to sleep for a night, and young people turn to alternatives, at most times illegal measures to ensure their safety and comfort on a nightly basis. If you all want to make a change, work on securing the future…that includes youth like me.” Rev. Krehbiel then provided a testimony of WIN’s position, including this statement from his speech: “Surely we can agree that youth are individuals and make sure they have a right to a safe place to be instead of the street, the couches of strangers, the lure of a human trafficker, or a juvenile detention cell because they need a place to sleep to get out of the cold.” With allies around the table, questions were asked, but not sufficiently answered, about whether all youth were covered, and precisely how the process would work when calls came in, including how many beds will be available, which means youth providers must be adequately funded by the city.   Without precise answers, the Interagency Council did not pass the 2013-2014 Winter Plan, instead referring it to the Youth and Operations Subcommittees to come up with clearer language about how youth will be covered. At the meeting we also learned that the district is working on a Request for Proposals to use a portion of the $1 Million dollars that WIN helped fight for to expand the capacity of emergency shelters beds for minors from 5 to 10-11. We are not there yet, but it is a victory that the plan was not passed – and instead a special meeting will have to be called once the 2 subcommittees have completed their work.  WIN will be following the outcome of these deliberations closely. Also, Please mark your calendars to attend the unveiling of the DC AYA/WIN 5-year plan to end youth homelessness on November 22nd, details forthcoming. -Linda Davenport Strategy Team Member, Metropolitan Memorial UMC


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