Abstract: Exploring and Evaluating Organizational Efforts to Help D.C.’s Mentally Ill Homeless Population

Hi, my name is Reema! I’m very excited to have the opportunity to conduct community-based research during my first year here at William & Mary. The community of interest for this project is the District of Columbia. D.C is currently facing a crisis with not only an increasing homeless population, but also an increasing sub-population of mentally ill individuals, despite allocating significant funds and resources towards homeless-intervention programs. Recently (in 2015), the mayor of D.C., created and began the implementation of a 5-yr plan, Homeward D.C., aimed at ending long-term homelessness in the region by the year 2020. Since the program’s inception, its support has considerably eroded, due to the underestimation of required expenses and resources, as well as a lack of visible progress.

My research this summer aims to answer a variety of questions to form groundwork for future research and/or provide insight helpful to program evaluation efforts. First, it’s important to understand the extent to which the issue regarding mentally ill persons in D.C.’s homeless community exists. Next, do those who are involved with the implementation of the Homeward D.C. programs believe they are making sufficient progress? Finally, how are these organizations tracking the program’s progress, in terms of long-term residential stability? All of these, and more, are important questions that need to be answered with urgency, given that the timeline of the Homeward D.C. plan ends in 2020. In addition to extensive literature review (much of which has already been performed through the Sharpe program), my research will involve making field observations and conducting surveys/interviews with various organizations and individuals around the local D.C. region. Due to the strict measures of confidentiality and anonymity I must maintain, I won’t be blogging my research progress. At the end of my research, I hope to meet my research goals and contribute sufficient data/information towards the improvement of mental healthcare for the homeless D.C. population.