Transition in DowntownDC BID Homeless Services Program

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC— The DowntownDC Business Improvement District (BID) announces personnel changes and a transition in its award-winning Homeless Services program.

Chet Grey, director of Homeless Services since 2002, has retired. He accomplished many outstanding goals during his 10-year tenure, including conceiving and leading the joint DowntownDC-Pathways to Housing DC Homeless Services Team, the city’s only non-governmental, clinically based outreach group dealing with chronic homelessness. The team placed more than 200 Downtown homeless persons into permanent supportive housing and helped scores more obtain medical and mental health services, identification, transportation, and other services during his tenure.

Jonathan Ward, Pathways to Housing DC’s clinical director and head of the joint Homeless Services Team, has accepted a new position as director of mobile crisis services under the DC Department of Mental Health’s Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program (CPEP), located on the grounds of DC General. In his new role, Ward oversees a 16-member team responsible for responding to adults who experience a psychiatric crisis in the home or on the street and who are either unable or unwilling to travel to receive mental health services.

“Chet has been a tireless advocate and key strategist for homeless adults,” said Richard H. Bradley, DowntownDC’s executive director. “Both he and Jonathan had a way with chronically homeless individuals that paid tremendous dividends for the men and women who made a home on Downtown streets. We are grateful for their dedication and hard work.”

Will Connelly has been hired as Pathways to Housing DC’s new director of outreach and will head the joint Downtown Homeless Services Team. Previously, Connelly was the senior project associate at Policy Research Associates in Albany, New York, where he worked for the National SOAR Technical Assistance Center program, which has as its goal expediting disability benefits for homeless individuals. He also started and managed a street outreach program at Park Center, a non-profit mental health agency in Nashville, Tennessee, and co-founded a street newspaper, The Contributor, in that city.

In addition, consultant J. Chapman Todd has been retained to assist DowntownDC with homeless services.  Prior to 2010, Todd served for nine years as the director of housing development and division director for housing programs at Catholic Charities. He also spent eight years as the associate director at D.C. Central Kitchen. Todd is an appointed member of the DC Interagency Council on Homelessness (ICH).
David K. Kamperin, DowntownDC’s director of Public Space Management and former first district commander of the Metropolitan Police Department, has been assigned responsibility for overseeing DowntownDC’s Homeless Services program. 

Kamperin, who worked in four of the city’s seven police districts, partnered with the BID on strategic problem solving, homeless outreach and coordinated approaches to address crime and quality of life issues in Downtown. Recently, he began quarterly homeless enumerations to better coordinate outreach opportunities during seasonal fluctuations.

In announcing the transition, Bradley reiterated the BID’s commitment to providing homeless services and continuing existing partnerships with more than two dozen public and nonprofit organizations as well as establishing new alliances. “Our goal is to reduce chronic homelessness through a unified approach involving other local BIDs, the city, service providers and nonprofit organizations,” he said.

In addition to the Homeless Services Team, DowntownDC will sharpen its focus on four issues:

  • Federal City Shelter. Develop an alternative plan for how the shelter is used.
  • Housing First. Educate the city about the benefits of continuing Housing First, a pragmatic, street-to-independence outreach initiative focused on moving chronically homeless individuals into permanent supportive housing.
  • Homeless “dumping.” Seek changes to the way homeless adults are transported into Downtown during morning hours.
  • Park feeding programs. Encourage partnerships and develop alternatives to uncoordinated programs and procedures that lead to areas left with strewn garbage and unhealthy public spaces.

Expanding our network of service providers, advocates, policy makers and government officials working on behalf of the homeless community,” said Bradley, “can only lead to more and, we believe, improved strategies to confront homelessness.”