Downtown Cluster of Congregations

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2001 ANNUAL REPORT

Contents

  


	2001 was a year of unprecedented tragedy for both the city and
country. Yet born of the tragedy of Sept. 11th was a renewed sense of
purpose, service, and American spirit. While New York City bore the brunt
of the attack, Washington, D.C. too suffered tragically by the attack on
the Pentagon, and the resulting economic fallout. Washingtonians of all
backgrounds - students and teachers from D.C. Public Schools - as well as
so many others - were killed on the 11th of September. Washington Postal
workers suffered and died from the subsequent anthrax attack upon the
postal system and U.S. Capitol in October.

	 These tragic events resulted in upwards of 15,000+ persons tied
to tourist related industries - hotels, car rental agencies, tour
mobiles, National Airport workers, and others - suffering the loss of
jobs or severe cutbacks in their hours. It was in this context of tragedy
and economic fallout that the Downtown Cluster of Congregations and its
members were called to serve. Whether it was opening for extended prayer,
consolation, and memorials, or directly assisting the families of those
who were laid off, the challenges presented to the Downtown Cluster of
Congregations were truly never greater.
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Homeless Outreach
	
	2001 was a year of tragedy for the homeless of Washington. A
total of at least 7 persons died of hypothermia over the winter of
2000-2001. After years of economic upturn, the recession took full hold,
resulting in more families seeking public shelter. It was in this context
that the Homeless Services Unit continued to reach out for the 16th
straight year to the street homeless and indigent of the city.
	
	This team of 3 full time, bi-lingual Outreach Workers rotated
between 9 congregation-based sites as well as canvassing parks,
commercial areas, and other public spaces where the homeless live. The
staff saw 1485 persons - 299 women and 1186 men. Women were 20% of those
served. The staff provided 1,444  emergency aid referrals for food,
clothing, and shelter. The team was able to provide follow-up, in-depth
case management services to 166 persons. About 300 applications were made
for Food Stamps, Social Security Benefits, Medicaid, and other
assistance. Some 179 of these applications were successful; numerous
others remained pending. 97 persons were referred for substance abuse
treatment, of which 47    received care. About 100 persons were referred
for mental health treatment, of which 47 actually received such care.
Over 275 persons were referred for health care. 147 applications were
made for transitional and permanent housing, of which 52 persons were
placed into such housing. Over 125 persons were referred for job training
and placement, of which over 50 obtained jobs, and 53 received training.

	Further, following the layoffs from the impact of the 9/11 attack
on the local tourism industry, the Cluster assigned one of its workers to
assist the Metropolitan Council of the AFL-CIO  to garner aid and
benefits to the newly unemployed. The Cluster's staffperson - Julie
Turner -  was the sole Spanish speaking caseworker available to the
Council, thereby playing an important role to many immigrants who were
laid off.

	In the wake of deaths from hypothermia, the Cluster strongly
supported city efforts to open more warming centers during sub-freezing
periods, inclusive of use of the Reeves Center on 14th Street, N.W.

	The Cluster also called on the Mayor to re-consider his decision
to stop renovation of an old, unused Firehouse for use as a women's
shelter in downtown. The Cluster filed a complaint with the Equal Rights
Center regarding the abrupt decision of the city not to open the shelter,
after news reports that surrounding developers of market rate housing had
complained. 

	The goal of the Homeless Services Unit is to assist each person
to meet life-threatening emergency needs, while addressing long-term
needs in order to break the cycle of homelessness. This is achieved by
the staff forging a working partnership with each person and family, and
allowing them to identify and implement the steps necessary to re-gain
control over their lives.
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Washington Area Community Investment Fund

	The Downtown Cluster of Congregations and its members continued
to support the development of this non-profit loan fund. The Cluster is
amongst the top investors in this Fund, which  now has assets of over $4
million. The Fund has completed 119 loans totaling over $7 million
dollars, making possible the purchase and rehabilitation of over 1,300
housing units across the region, as well as 14 community based
residential facilities. The Fund's loans have leveraged an additional $58
million in other private and public funding for these projects. Many of
these developments  help to anchor their neighborhoods. The Fund has
partnered with the Local Initiative Support Corporation, the Enterprise
Foundation, and others to assist in the expansion of child-care providers
in low-income neighborhoods in Wards 1, 7, and 8 of the city. The goal is
to create 400 new child care slots. The Fund will celebrate its 15th
Anniversary in 2002.
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Revitalization of Neglected Properties

	The Cluster continued to encourage the revitalization of several
large abandoned or under-utilized government-owned parcels, in order to
secure new jobs and housing opportunities for residents, as well as new
tax revenues for the community's use.  After significant efforts to
publicize the decay of these publicly-owned buildings, the Cluster was
successful in getting the government to release the Roosevelt Apartments
on 16th Street, the Tariff Building on 7th Street, and the DC Department
of Employment Services Building on Pennsylvania Avenue, NW. The latter
was sold to the Freedom Forum at the end of 2000 for $100 million, of
which $25 million would be used to develop affordable housing across the
city. This year saw the successful sale of the long vacant Mather
Building located in the 900 block of G Street, N.W. This WW I era
structure will be redeveloped with over 40 residential units, of which 
40% would be low and moderate income units. The building will also
contain an array of arts uses. The project should generate about $750,000
a year in new taxes for the District. The Cluster also encouraged the
marketing of the old Wax Museum site in downtown Wahsington, primarily
for the development of affordable housing. 

	The Cluster also aided in the groundbreaking for new residential
apartments on 5th Street near Gallery Place. This will be the first
privately developed housing in downtown in over 20 years. Additional
units are slated as well for 6th Street, E Street, and F Street, N.W. 
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Utility Issues

	After over 4 years of litigation by the Downtown Cluster of
Congregations,  the D.C. Court of Appeals ruled that the D.C. Water and
Sewer Authority had illegally raised rates for non-profit agencies and
local congregations. The rates were raised without proper hearing and
notice. The Cluster had appealed this rate increase on behalf of its
members, as well as in conjunction with the Washington Council of
Agencies, a consortium of over 600 non-profit agencies here in the city,
and Jubilee Housing. The Cluster was represented in this matter by the
law firm of Hogan & Hartson. While the D.C. Water and Sewer Authority
sought further re-hearings on this ruling, the Cluster sought to settle
this matter. This victory comes in the wake of the Water and Sewer
Authority implementing a "lifeline rate" and "emergency assistance fund"
in 2001. These programs came about in large part to the efforts of the
Cluster to educate the Authority and the community on the need for a
lifeline rate program. The lifeline program should result in about a 20%
reduction in the bills for qualifying low-income households.

Community Services and Issues

	The Cluster continued to provide leadership in opposing the
expansion of liquor licenses to adult strip clubs. The year began with a
mob-related strip club operating from New York City seeking to garner a
license for a new operation in the heart of downtown Washington, D.C.
Their representative approached the Downtown Cluster of Congregations
seeking the Cluster's support for a change in the local liquor laws that
would allow new licenses to be granted and for current licenses to be
re-located. The Executive Director informed the local media of the club's
efforts, and "Scores" of New York failed in its efforts to enter the
local market. In the wake of the revelations of a mob-related club
seeking to come to the city, the D.C. City Council also re-considered its
actions to allow new strip club licenses to be granted, and the Council
continued its moratorium on new licenses. The Cluster continued to oppose
the transfer and re-opening of the 1720 Club strip club liquor license
from H Street to the 1700 block of I Street in downtown.

	The Cluster sought to expand assistance to the unemployed in the
wake of the 9/11 attack. It called on local utilities to provide extra
assistance and consideration to those laid off, prior to cutting off
utility services. It called on private businesses to consider grants to
agencies helping those victims of the attack. It also helped to monitor
the disbursement of emergency funds. The Cluster helped to uncover that
disbursements from the Mayor's Disaster Relief Fund were tied up in
bureaucratic procedures, and not quickly reaching those in need. It
sought proper accounting of all donated funds, and more rapid delivery of
needed assistance.

	The Cluster played a leading role in curbing neighborhood "bar
crawls" which advertise numerous drink specials catering to college-age
drinkers. The Cluster worked with the Metropolitan Police Department to
monitor one such event in Foggy Bottom  which resulted in over 50 arrests
for underage drinking, public intoxication, drugs, and other offenses.
The Cluster's effort in garnering police intervention may have helped
prevent the alcohol-induced rioting that occurred in College Park after
the Maryland Final Four game. The Cluster also worked with the residents
and neighborhood groups of Adams Morgan to curb the Adams Morgan bar
crawl.

	In a related effort, the Cluster and its members worked with
neighborhood, civic, University,  and business groups to curb littering
across the city. Numerous nightclubs use fliers to attract patrons, and
the fliers create a huge mess in many areas - on campuses, around retail
centers, on cars, and elsewhere. The Cluster worked with club owners,
city officials, and others to educate promoters on more effective means
of drawing customers without littering public areas. The Cluster sought
enforcement of litter laws after an extended campaign of public education
on the matter.

	The Cluster, its members and staff played a critical role in the
revitalization of the Walter Pierce Playground in the heart of Ward 1,
serving primarily minority and low-income families. The playground,
decaying over a number of years, was given a complete renovation of new
equipment and plantings with the help of hundreds of volunteers in April.
The Cluster helped to devise a funding plan to raise over $250,000 needed
for the renovation, with member congregations helping to pay for the
renovation as well. 

	The Cluster continued to provide to its membership news of
volunteer opportunities in a broad range of community programs, as well
as health screening fairs, job-training and placement programs, as well
as other community events. It arranged for meetings for its members with
Dr. Paul Vance, the Superintendent of D.C. Public Schools, and Commander
Jose Acosta of the Metropolitan Police Department, who handles street
closings and special events, in the wake of the 9/11 attacks when
numerous streets were closed. 
Special Recognition

	Special recognition goes to New York Avenue Presbyterian Church
which continued to provide administrative office space and program space
to the Downtown Cluster of Congregations, as it has since its inception
in 1972. Special thanks also goes to Church of the Pilgrims, Calvary
Baptist Church, St. Thomas Episcopal Church, Chevy Chase Presbyterian
Church, Mt. Vernon Place United Methodist Church, St. Columba's Episcopal
Church,  and St. John's Church of Lafayette Square for their provision of
operating space for Cluster activities. The Cluster's other members also
provide financial aid, volunteers, operating space, and Board members for
countless community endeavors.

	The Cluster's membership grew to 38 member congregations with the
entry of First Baptist Church of the City of Washington, D.C.
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2001 Officers

	President: Mary Miller, John Wesley AME Zion Church
           Vice President: Maxine Maye, Lincoln Congregational Temple,
UCC
           Treasurer: Austin Dandridge, Second Baptist Church
           Asst. Treasurer: John Mack, First Congregations Church, U.C.C.
           Secretary: Jack Womeldorf, Church of the Pilgrims
           Asst. Secretary: Marian Carrick, Second Baptist Church
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Staff
Executive Director: Terrance Lynch
Senior Outreach Worker: Julie Turner
Associate Outreach Worker: Juan Carlos Benavides
Associate Outreach Worker: Sharon Winfield
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Directors and Financial Reports
 
A listing of member congregations and Directors is available upon
request. 
The Downtown Cluster of Congregations is independently audited
annually. Such audits are available upon request.     	           
Homeless Services Unit

2001 Annual Report
Total Number of Persons Requesting Services 1485
Number of Women Requesting Services 299
Number of Men Requesting Services 1186
Persons Receiving Case Management Services 166
 
I. Information and Referral
Basic Needs (Food, Clothing, Shelter) 1444
Immigration Assistance 1214
Transportation Assistance 67
Legal Aid 159
Replacement ID (Birth Certificate, Passport, Walker's ID) 546
  
II. Case Management Services  Referred Resolutions
Health Care 277 141
D.C. Dept. of Human Services - (Medicaid, AFDC, Medical Charities)  163 113
Social Security Benefits - (SSI, SSA, and SSDI) 68 34
Food Stamps 168 132
Substance Abuse Treatment  97 47
Psychiatric  Treatment  99 47
Employment Training 57 37
Employment Placement  71 53
Transitional Housing 73 21
Permanent Housing 74 31
                                            

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