The Wash
Christmas trees at Brent Elementary School
Christmas trees at Brent Elementary School

Capitol Hill housing non-profit receives significant grant to combat homelessness

A $2.5 million gift propels Everyone Home DC into the New Year. The nonprofit wants to expand support for families facing housing insecurity and homelessness with the largest gift in the organizations history.

Craig Heilman spent a December weekend delivering Christmas trees to struggling families during the holiday season. The Brent Elementary School holiday sale partnered with Everyone Home DC to raise money at their annual sale, where residents could purchase a tree for a family that does not have the means to obtain their own.

“A live Christmas tree can be a really nice thing to have in your home to make you feel good about the season,” said Heilman, co-chair of the sale. “We are helping people get to know each other and come together to celebrate the season.” 

Everyone Home DC is a local non-profit that aims to support people facing housing insecurity and those experiencing homelessness. This program is part of the organization’s support for families during the holiday season. 

Kate Akalonu, Director of Strategic Initiatives at Everyone Home DC, described the unique challenges the holidays pose to struggling families. 

“It can be a really hard time for people for lots of reasons. If you are living in poverty or without access to resources that can help you celebrate the way that you feel like you should, it can compound a lot of stress,” Akalonu said.Christmas Trees at Elementary School

Everyone Home DC wants to expand its impact in the community next year with a $2.5 million grant from the Bezos Day 1 Families Fund. This will bolster their efforts to combat housing insecurity and support families experiencing homelessness. The grant comes at a critical time during the holiday season and will enable the organization to sustain its existing programs and create lasting change in the Capitol Hill community.

“The main criteria around the grant was that we would support more families. So that will be one thing that we’ll be building out, and then we’ll be using it to supplement our programs and find ways to be more transformative with the work that we do,” Akalonu said.

The Bezos Day 1 Families Fund, launched in 2018 by Jeff Bezos, has issued over $639 million to organizations nationwide. The grant is awarded to organizations that help families move from unsheltered homelessness and shelters to permanent housing.

Everyone Home D.C.’s programs

Everyone Home D.C. has programs throughout the city that support unhoused residents and those facing housing insecurity. They offer a Family Homelessness Prevention program that provides financial assistance and connects people with supportive resources. Everyone Home DC offers short-term rentals for families experiencing homelessness through their Rapid Re-housing program. This provides access to employment preparation services, transportation assistance, mental health services and educational training. 

In Capitol Hill, Everyone Home DC funds a street outreach program that supports individuals in the Eastern Market neighborhood. This program builds relationships with unhoused people and provides services that aim to supply stable housing. They fund Shirley’s Place Day Center, which provides people experiencing homelessness with a safe place to spend their day and gain access to showers, laundry, phones, computers, and food. 

In 2022, Shirley’s Place provided 1751 individuals with 5,377 meals. Everyone Home DC provided housing stabilization to 411 families facing homelessness, including 735 children and 92 families secured their own apartments through programs. The Rapid Re-housing program supported 81 families transitioning out of homelessness.

“I think that as a society, we are collectively stronger if everybody’s taken care of and if we are all taking care of each other,” Akalonu said.

D.C. Trends

According to a recent study by the Urban Institute, 12% of D.C. residents are experiencing housing insecurity. Children, Black and Hispanic residents, and households with children were more likely to be housing insecure compared to their representation in the D.C. population, according to the report.

Graph showing households facing housing insecurity
(Courtesy of the Urban Institute)

One in four children ages 17 and younger face housing insecurity, with black residents in DC disproportionately affected, comprising 41% of the population, with over 60% facing housing insecurity, Akalonu said.

“We’re seeing that the numbers are trending up,” Akalonu said. “The lunches that we distribute from the day center have been increasing. So we’re definitely seeing a need there. Housing insecurity just remains a consistent concern for the city.”

Community Partnerships

Everyone Home DC partners with the community to create a network of support for residents of Capitol Hill.

“You know, Capitol Hill does have kind of a small-town feel to it. So we try to foster that small town feel where we know our neighbors, and we help our neighbors,” Heilman said. 

Everyone Home DC receives support from community members and organizations across the country. Their partners include DC’s Department of Human Services, DC Central Kitchen, The Morris & Gwondolyn Cafritz Foundation and Unity Healthcare.

“We can only really accomplish the work that we do every year through the support of people in our community and all the different partners that we have,” Akalonu said.

Everyone Home DC also runs a holiday donation drive to support families during the holiday season. They accept gift cards that will be distributed to struggling families to create a meaningful holiday experience. In 2022, they distributed 500 cards to families to fund school supplies, Thanksgiving meal ingredients, and the gift-giving holiday season.

“As an organization, and with the support of our community, I think there’s just a lot of collective energy right now around the work that we’re doing,” Akalonu said. “We’re really looking forward to leaning into that and seeing what we can accomplish in the year ahead.”

Everyone Home DC is looking forward to 2024 and is currently working on expanding programs through the Bezos grant. 

“We are seeing a lot of growth, and we’re just really excited about what we’re going to be able to accomplish in 2024,” Akalonu said. 


Nicholas Fogleman

Nick Fogleman is a journalist covering the Capitol Hill neighborhood for the Wash. He is currently pursuing a master's in Journalism and Public Affairs at American University.

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