Taking a Leading Role on Women’s Homelessness in D.C. – Introducing the Women’s Services Task Force

NEW Executive Director Wanda Steptoe joined Kris Thompson, executive director of Calvary Women’s Services, on Friday, June 9th, to host a meeting of the Interagency Council on Homelessness (ICH)* Women’s Task Force. About 40 people representing over 25 agencies participated in the meeting, committing themselves to improving the lives of homeless women in our community. Together Wanda and Kris co-chair the Women’s Task Force, which was created to address the experiences and needs of homeless women in Washington, DC.

“I am honored to take a leadership role in working with DC government, service providers and community leaders to continue to make services for homeless women a priority,” says Wanda. “The need is critical and we hope to make a lasting difference.”

With the support of the Community Partnership, and using data from the 2017 Point-in-Time Enumeration for the District of Columbia, the Task Force will release a fact sheet on homeless adult women who are single and who are not experiencing homelessness as part of a family unit. NEW serves this population plus children of homeless women. Calvary serves single women.

The data points to a significant need – and it verifies what we experience every day at NEW:

  • 42% of homeless women report experiencing domestic violence prior to their homelessness
  • 48% of women currently homeless are over the age of 55
  • 69% report at least one disabling condition, including 49% who report severe mental illness

The data also points to the need for more temporary and permanent housing for women. The Task Force will collaborate with women’s homeless services providers, domestic violence providers, and other community stakeholders to lift up these critical issues and work toward lasting solutions. To that end, the Task Force is currently reviewing:

  • Women’s ability to access safe and stable housing in the District;
  • The shortage of temporary shelter accommodations set aside for Women; and
  • The intersection between domestic/intimate partner violence, sexual assault, and trafficking, in partnership with providers if domestic violence housing and services.

When Wanda and Kris began working on this, they talked about the women they see every day in their programs – women who come to the door with visible injuries and scared expressions on their face; women who are over 65 years old and have no way of making rent in DC with only a social security income; women who have lost their homes and income because of health problems.

* The ICH is a group of cabinet-level leaders, providers of homeless services, advocates, homeless and formerly homeless leaders that come together to inform and guide the District’s strategies and policies for meeting the needs of those who are homeless in DC.

New Endeavors by Women Named ‘One of the Best’ Nonprofits by the Catalogue for Philanthropy

After a careful vetting process, the Catalogue for Philanthropy: Greater Washington has selected New Endeavors by Women (NEW) to be part of the Class of 2017-18. NEW has undergone an extensive review process, and has met the Catalogue’s high standards. Potential donors can be confident that the nonprofits in the Catalogue are worthy of their support.

“We’re thrilled to be a part of the Catalogue for Philanthropy,” says Wanda Steptoe, NEW’s executive director. “Our work with homeless women and children is critical to meet the need in DC — our presence in the Catalogue will help us gain more support for those we serve.” Read more

New Journeys is Expanding

Photo by Christine Pearl.

New Journeys is one of the seven housing programs offered by New Endeavors by Women (NEW.) Serving senior women, New Journeys provides housing for six women aged 55 and older.

“There’s been a spike in elderly homelessness over the past five years or so,” explains NEW Program Director James Brown. “New Journeys has been so successful that we’re starting a second program – New Journeys II – in October.”

With the new program, 15 more senior women will be able to call New Journeys II home. As James pointed out, the need has been escalating. And the programs to support the elderly are few and far between in the Washington, DC area.  Read more

Letter From the Executive Director – June

As in life, the only constant at NEW is change and the dedication of our staff. The women at NEW stumble, pick themselves up, make progress, and graduate to become stable and contributing members of society. Through it all, staff members like Renee Roberts walk with them every step of the way.

A great example is Geisy Cerberino and her family. Geisy came to NEW through the New Horizons program. They are in stable housing, but our YEP! program still provides a buffer for the younger children so Geisy can work and her oldest daughter, a teen, isn’t solely responsible for after-school care. Read more

Culture Shock – Brenda Brooks

Photo by Christine Pearl

Brenda spent many years working as a legal secretary until she was laid off shortly after the 9/11 attacks in 2001. “That started it all,” she says. The dominoes fell one by one: job, savings, housing. She spent years floating from house to house, until there was no more money or space on somebody’s couch. “It was a culture shock,” adds Brenda. “It was my first experience being homeless – and at my age.”

Brenda ended up at NEW in New Journeys permanent supportive housing program, where she has gotten back on her feet, resumed her youth ministry, and is currently looking for an apartment. “It’s a continuation of the journey,” she says. Read more

Anne Raffaelli: “We all deserve dignity.”

Former NEW executive director, Mary Popit doesn’t mince words about the woman who will be honored with the award that bears her name. “Without Anne, NEW could have fallen apart.” She’s speaking, of course, about Anne Raffaelli, a longtime supporter and former board chair of NEW. She stepped down in December 2015 after more than 23 years of service, and is this year’s recipient of the Mary Popit Partner in Caring Award.

Anne Raffaelli
Anne Raffaelli, 2016

Mary says Anne brought a “stick-to-it-iveness” to NEW that has sustained the organization. “You have to have a good staff AND a good board that offers oversight, and makes sure you see the bigger picture. You can’t have one without the other. Anne was instrumental in making sure that happened.” Wanda Steptoe, NEW’s current executive director – who took over from Mary describes Anne more succinctly: “Committed, passionate, caring.”

Anne says she was simply doing her job as a board member, being an “asker in chief,” and asking the questions that needed to be asked. “Because it’s what a board should do.” Read more