Homelessness, Public Policy, & COVID-19 in D.C.

April 15, 2021

We asked Learning by Giving students to reflect on how COVID-19 has impacted their community and grantmaking. Hanbin Park, a senior majoring in Human Services & Social Justice at The George Washington University, provides insight into the intersection between COVID-19, homelessness, and public policy in the D.C. area. The Learning by Giving course at The George Washington University is a senior capstone in the Human Services & Social Justice program. It is taught by Dr. Michelle Kelso and offered every Spring semester. 

Following the pandemic, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, in December 2020, announced an order to reduce the amount of funding granted to local organizations that support homeless residents. This directive was a measure to cut down the budget channeled to homelessness because of the economy's decline due to COVID-19. The timing was unfortunate, as the mayor implemented it during a severe housing crisis exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The mayor's guideline affected how our class approached the grantmaking project as a class through the GW Arc Foundation. Following the mayor's directives, we decided to provide funding to nonprofit organizations that support individuals experiencing homelessness in the DMV area.

The GW Arc Foundation was established to provide monetary support for organizations geared towards addressing social justice related issues. Each year the foundation unanimously chooses one issue that we hope to combat and provide relief towards the problem. This year, the GW Arc Foundation’s mission is to support individuals experiencing homelessness in the Washington Metropolitan area by providing funding to nonprofit organizations to alleviate homelessness and its contributing factors. We recognize the need to support organizations that might be at risk of losing funding due to recent D.C. policy changes. The foundation recognizes the need to extend monetary support to organizations that might be at risk of losing funding due to recent D.C. policy changes.

This support will ensure that organizations providing homelessness services within Washington DC can continue to carry out their services even amid the surging pandemic and its effects. The grant boosts and support initiates within these organizations. Following the current pandemic, homelessness is inevitable within the Washington Metropolitan area. However, this act of philanthropy will go a long way to reduce homelessness and related issues within the region. Providing funding to nonprofit organizations that work towards alleviating homelessness is the best experience during the current pandemic. The philanthropic act has been encouraging to see that something good can come out of the pandemic. The grantmaking project will always remain amongst my most memorable moments and the act of philanthropy the best experience.