Washington, D.C. plans to give its homeless and poor residents an opportunity to call one of the city’s abandoned buildings home through a program called “Sweat Equity.”
The program allows the city’s homeless and needy residents to earn skills and housing by pitching in with the rehabilitation of the city’s abandoned properties. Officials say that participants will earn “comprehensive training in the construction trade” as a result of involvement. The goal is help homeless and poor residents earn skills that will help them become self-sufficient, in efforts to reduce the number of both homeless and those receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits.
Individuals who have been homeless or have been on TANF are eligible to participate and after completion, they are allowed to live in the buildings for two years rent-controlled.
As of March, D.C. had 7,225 families receiving TANF benefits and in 2009, over 99 percent of families receiving TANF benefits were African-American. There are also nearly 858 homeless families in the city.
According to statistics from the National Coalition for the Homeless, 42 percent of the nation’s homeless population is African-American, 39 percent are white and 13 percent are Hispanic, although the organization states that the numbers vary widely depending on the part of the country.
D.C. isn’t the only place where innovative solutions are helping the city’s needy populations. Detroit has plans to convert one of its old, abandoned buildings into 155 apartments for the city’s homeless. The ambitious project being spearheaded by the Neighborhood Services Project will include support services for its residents and an on-site health care clinic.
(Photo: Molly Riley/Reuters)