The Lab @ DC
Stronger Evidence for a Stronger DC

How do the District’s employment services support people experiencing homelessness?

How do the District’s employment services support people experiencing homelessness?

Project Summary
Gaining employment and earning a living wage are important tools for increasing housing stability among people experiencing homelessness. Little is known, however, about how many people experiencing homelessness in the District are participating in the Department of Employment Services (DOES) employment programs and services, and how income and employment vary with participation. To answer these questions, DOES, the Interagency Council on Homelessness (ICH), and The Community Partnership (TCP) are working with The Lab @ DC. Together, we are analyzing their combined data sets to better understand the participation in services such as job training and job placement. This analysis will help inform the District’s strategy for addressing homelessness, led by ICH.

Why is this issue important in DC?
In a recent survey by TCP and the DC Department of Human Services (DHS), about 1 in 3 people experiencing homelessness said they had become homeless after losing a job. Half said that employment and income assistance would have kept them from becoming homeless.2

What are we doing?
People experiencing homelessness may benefit from available employment services, including job training and apprenticeships. To date, however, we do not know whether and how these District employment programs are serving people experiencing homelessness.

A DOES employee welcoming a resident at an American Job Center. (Credit: Department of Employment Services)

A DOES employee welcoming a resident at an American Job Center. (Credit: Department of Employment Services)

To find out, we are combining data from the Homeless Management Information System, which collects information on the use of homeless shelters and services, with wage and employment services data from DOES. Through our analysis, we will answer questions like, “how many people experiencing homelessness are being served by our employment programs?” and, “are some programs serving more people experiencing homelessness than others?”

What have we learned?
We are awaiting results.

What comes next?
At the end of 2019, the Interagency Council on Homelessness will use our analysis to update their strategic plan for ending long-term homelessness in the District, Homeward DC.

What happened behind the scenes?
In order to better understand the District’s employment services, The Lab observed sessions for key programs, including DC Career Connections and Project Empowerment, as well as visited an American Job Center. Lab members were able to experience how a job seeker would be welcomed into a job center and appropriately placed into employment services.

It really comes down to economics. People living in poverty are least likely to be in a job that is paying a housing wage, are increasingly priced out of the market in our community, and that really becomes a driver.
— Laura Zeilinger, DC DHS Director3