Sarah Ford | October 21, 2013

D.C. nonprofit Miriam’s Kitchen changes its focus

Miriam's Kitchen Changes Focus

Miriam’s Kitchen, a nonprofit that has been providing meals, case management and mental health treatment to individuals in need for the past 30 years in the District, is now shifting its focus to chronic homelessness in the nation’s capital.

The nonprofit, housed in the stately Western Presbyterian Church in Foggy Bottom, views its new mission as a moral imperative — and achievable thanks to the District’s permanent supportive housing program known as Housing First, according to Scott Schenkelberg, president and CEO of the organization.

Miriam’s Kitchen hopes to play a matchmaker’s role in bringing more awareness to the cause. It aims now to first provide housing for chronically homeless individuals and then address the underlying causes that put them on the street in the first place, including mental health issues, addiction and poverty.

While Schenkelberg said the group was finding success with its initial mission of direct food and mental health services, it kept getting requests for housing that it could never seem to meet on its own.

“What we saw was that when Housing First started on a large scale in the District several years ago, that within a year of its launch, we got 200 of our long-term guests into housing,” Schenkelberg said.

The key to achieving its new goal, according to Schenkelberg, will depend on the organization’s ability to enlist local leaders across the Washington-area community from health care, business, nonprofits and local government. Miriam’s Kitchen has already spent $500,000 from its own reserves in the first year on advocacy and lent management time to District agencies for the Housing First program, but said it still needs institutional investors to keep the effort going.


Source: Washington Business Journal

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