Councilmember Grosso remains passionate about helping people experiencing homelessness and has consistently led on these issues while on the Council. After Grosso and his colleagues passed two important bills addressing homelessness among youth in 2014, the LGBTQ Homeless Youth Reform Act and the End Youth Homelessness Act, the District of Columbia has come a long way in improving its response to young people who are homeless.
Earlier this year, D.C. published the results of its first ever census of homeless youth and found that almost half identify as LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning their sexual orientation or gender identity). The survey also found that over 300 young people are literally homeless, with hundreds more in precarious housing situations (like couch surfing). Based on these findings, the Council and the Mayor included $2.3 million in new funds in the fiscal year 2017 budget for homeless youth services.
Councilmember Grosso was concerned that this money be properly allocated based on the data—with a significant portion of it going to fund additional beds and services for LGBTQ youth. In July, the Councilmember wrote a letter to Department of Human Services Director Laura Zeilinger, asking her about the agency’s plans for youth homelessness funding for the coming fiscal year and how LGBTQ-specific services would be augmented. Director Zeilinger’s response shows that the agency has been thoughtful about this process and is already in the process of awarding new grants with the goal of expanding those services.
You can read both Councilmember Grosso’s original inquiry and Director Zeilinger’s response below.