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© 2006 DC Appleseed

Solving DC Problems Solving DC Problems

Idea Submitted by C.C.

Dinner Program for Homeless Men Needs Space

The District needs an indoor dinner program for homeless men, one that serves a nutritious meal and provides access to other needed services in its dining room. While there is a great program for women downtown, there is nothing for men, who make up the majority of DCs street-bound homeless population. Recently, Miriam's Kitchen ( undertook an ambitious five-year strategic plan, which includes opening such a dinner program. Because of Miriams 23 years of experience serving this population, it is well-placed to offer this type of program in the community, particularly as the dinner program will be based on the food/case management model Miriam's successfully employs in its weekday morning breakfast program. However, a big issue Miriam's faces as it makes plans for the dinner program is lack of space. I have heard that plans are afoot in the city to open more shelter space for both men and women in the downtown area. It would be great if Miriam's could provide their dinner program in the proposed shelter's space. This could be an amazing partnership between the city and a strong nonprofit in the community. Also, dinner guests might be more likely to take advantage of shelter if it is in the same building, and dinner program staff will not have to turn people back onto the street on cold winter nights. Both the dinner program and the shelter would provide services for our city's most vulnerable homeless individuals.

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5.11.06 - J.S.

It's truly amazing that there isn't a dinner program for homeless men. And if the city wants to work toward helping people access services and gain more stability--this is a great idea. Since Miriam's already has a breakfast program, the men would be more likely to seek out shelter and services from people they trust. Serving a healthful meal and providing shelter in the same building just makes sense. The food/case management model is effective. Some of the most vulnerable people can be hard to reach and drawing them in with a good meal can result in their accessing other needed services.

5.10.06 - C.B.

This proposal would create a win-win-win-win situation. The District government would win by having additional services provided within city shelter space by Miriam's Kitchen. Miriam's Kitchen would win because the organization can provide a service it was (by itself) unable to do. Downtown business and tourism wins because its homeless "problem" would be ameliorated. But most important, the homeless men themselves win because they would receive a much-needed, specialized combination of services, all in one location. This sort of humane treatment ought not to be denied homeless men in our nation's capital.

5.10.06 - S.G.

It is hard to believe that in a city with such a large homeless population, of which most of the street-bound population is male, that there is no dinner program for men. Miriam's Kitchen has incredible reputation and is absolutely the right organization to fill this gap in services.

5.10.06 - N.M.

There is a definite need for this kind of service in the District! Finding a safe and warm place to go in the evening is difficult for homeless men. And this sounds like a great solution to this issue. Miriam's Kitchen has proven that combining social services with serving a meal is a great way to reach DC's homeless population. People feel more accepted and willing to open up about their needs. Serving dinner would provide another great opportunity for case managers to reach their homeless clients. The District could help identify a location for the space and then could work with a local nonprofit to help match funds for the site. Great idea!

5.10.06 - B.W.

This approach is really appealing because of how it could simultaneously address a series of needs. Not only does it provide meals for people who need them, it does so through an organization that many guests already know and trust. Because of that, they may be more willing to take advantage of other services. Finally, programs like these work best when they have the support of the public, and Miriam's history shows that it will deliver these services efficiently.

5.10.06 - W.S.

An smart marriage of ideas; sounds like a wholesale win-win! And Miriam's Kitchen's proven track record only adds credibility to the likely success of this idea that would provide much needed services in our community.

5.10.06 - C.M.

I think developers, the Mayor, and communities have done a great job in cleaning up the city, bringing in new beautiful apartments, homes, and business. However, what has the city done for the most vulnerable? Low income communities are hard pressed to find affordable housing, not to mention shelters. let's improve the city's progress in all areas within all commmunities!

5.09.06 - S.S.

This could be so easily done in partnership with DC gov't. If you already have a pull with an org that's willing to sponsor and help coordinate the thing, it's a no brainer as a win-fall for DC. You get to reduce homelessness, hunger, literacy and increase health, community engagement and men getting back on their feet. Just by providing a space and some support for a dinner. The social capital that would be gained in this program like this more than matches any investment that the DC government would put in.

5.08.06 - B.P.

This is a great idea to both share the city's resources and utilize the expanded offerings from Miriam's Kitchen. Any planning effort for additional shelter space should definitely take this into account!!!

5.07.06 - K.O.

This is an excellent idea to address a critical problem, and District government should explore it. The city could perhaps provide the capital funding that might be difficult for a non-profit -- even an established one such as Miriam's Kitchen -- to finance. If the proposed shelter is a long-term project that needs to be built, perhaps the city can identify a space for the short term by working with DC Public Schools as it develops a plan for consolidating schools.


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