D.C. Government:

Information on the Homeless Family Program

GGD-91-108: Published: Aug 22, 1991. Publicly Released: Sep 27, 1991.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information concerning the District of Columbia's (D.C.) homeless family program, focusing on: (1) approaches D.C. used to acquire its apartment-style shelter housing; (2) contract shelter and support services costs; (3) contractor performance; (4) the number of once homeless families that have located permanent housing; and (5) the number of families who left a shelter but later returned to the program.

GAO found that: (1) the D.C. approach to assisting homeless families has been to contract for small apartment buildings in which both housing and support services could be provided; (2) although procurement efforts did not result in D.C. obtaining the number of apartments desired because of insufficient private-sector response to its solicitations, D.C. has been slow to consider alternative housing procurement methods; (3) recent legislation requires that families be placed in shelter housing within 15 days of their placement in temporary hotel or motel housing; (4) as of October 31, 1990, D.C. was spending about $7.8 million annually for 11 contracts to provide 281 housing units and support services to homeless families; (5) under D.C. law, it cannot pay more for the occupancy cost per unit of emergency shelter housing than the appropriate rental rate established for its Tenant Assistance Program, but an analysis of 6 contracts awarded after the law was established showed that D.C. would pay approximately 41 percent over the allowed amount for 4 of the contracts; (6) since D.C. has not established any formal policies and procedures for monitoring shelter contracts, there is no assurance that the goods and services contracted for are being provided; (7) during fiscal years 1989 and 1990, 66 percent of once-homeless families obtained permanent housing; and (8) D.C. did not keep data on the rate of recidivism for once-homeless families, but officials estimated that the rate was 25 percent.

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