Ben: For splaying out in the living-room Morris chair with the lights off and the Sox game on the radio, you can’t go wrong with a Sam Adams Summer Ale.
Andrea: When in doubt, embrace the cliche. It’s summer. Sit on the beach. Drink a daiquiri. Tan a bit (sunblock please!) But if you’re spending your summer in DC, and you feel as though you are drinking daiquiris on the beach, it’s actually just heatstroke. Get inside.
Shane: The directions to my personal standby: step one, get your hands on any type of hard liquor you can find. Step two, take a shot. Step three, chase it with several swigs of Natty. And no, Natty is not the nickname for Natural Light. As any true Baltimoron will know, Natty is the short form of National Bohemian, the greatest beer you can find. Step four, repeat steps two and three until uncontrollable dancing/unconsciousness kicks in.
The picture says it all
Kathleen: If you’re currently suffering from a Victorian disease, but treating it with modern medicine, you probably shouldn’t be drinking. But if you must: a healthy cocktail of Captain’s Morgan Spiced Rum and DayQuil should suffice.
Rachel: The drink is not the important part. What you really need to prioritize is your vessel. For those poor souls who won’t turn twenty-one until your senior year, (I weep with you) it’s time to get creative. Recommendations: 1) The wine “rack”: an inflatable bra filled with your drink of choice. Though, of course, the puns work best if it’s wine. 2) The detachable beer “belly”: Not suggested for those actually suffering from a beer belly. 3) The water bottle: It’s a classic for a reason. Never ignore a classic.
Michael: The “James Joyce”: A hearty mug of Guinness shared with a literary friend. Proceed to drink three more Guinness regardless of if you are now drinking alone. You will now begin to understand Finnegan’s Wake. Side effects may include: literary fame and an unhealthy obsession with death.
Indy: Old Grand-Dad whiskey. A Classic. If you’ve tried it then you know that no comment is necessary. Harry Truman, James Bond and Joe Paterno can’t be wrong.
Photo credit: pweekly.blogspot.com
In the spirit of Wagner’s birthday, a defense for art’s sake.
James Barron recently wrote an elegy for Robert Lepage’s production of Wagner’s “Ring” cycle in the New York Times. In this post-mortem assessment, he justifiably identifies “the machine” as the operas’ Achilles’ heel. This should not have come as a surprise to anyone; recommended by the likes of Cirque du Soleil, Lepage is expertly trained in the maudlin and visually gaudy. The machine, a series of 24 connected colossal rotating wedges that served as the protean set for all four operas, would constantly malfunction at worst and distract from Wagner’s hard-earned magnum opus at best. Perhaps it is for the best that the monstrosity will not be brought back out until the Met’s 2018-19 season. Maybe.
This, however, is no isolated incident. The world of theatre has been plagued in the past few years by news of the catastrophic consequences of our erroneous dedication to technology over text. To take a rather stark plunge artistic-integrity wise, one would only have to note the fiasco that is Spider Man: Turn Off the Dark. Here is a show wherein our effects-directed hubris has led to unequivocal failure; we sail with the arrogance of Dante’s Ulysses, and end up falling off the edge of the world to our demise.
Motivated by the putting away of Lepage’s “Ring” cycle, here is a call to abandon our overeager fascination with the superfluous. Wagner has moved hearts and minds before Bill Gates was born, before 3-D meant a thing. The erroneous notion that we need "the machine" or devices like it in order to get the most out of any text will result in masking whatever meaning was originally found in the work. Priorities, people. To suppose that attention that could’ve gone towards casting or vocal training is instead spent on calibrating elephantine wedges and corresponding projectors? It’s like getting cold feet at the wedding and leaving your bride for the bridesmaid. What should have been supplementary to the ceremony has devalued and desecrated it. Let’s take a long look in the proverbial mirror, get ourselves together, and remember our primary commitments.
Mungiello is a rising Undeclared Sophomore and the A&E editor
This collection of essays, whose subtitle is In Praise of the Unlived Life, addresses the story of frustration and satisfaction that we all pen in our day to day lives. Our chaperone on this psychological safari is, of course, Phillips himself - however, he brings with him a partner in crime, a veteran explorer to whom he constantly refers: Freud. It is Phillips’ firm belief that much of life’s misery comes from judging ourselves too harshly relative to our “ego ideal;” or, in lay man’s terms, we spend most of our life thinking about the life we are not living. We are sure that if things had been different, they would have been better. We are unjustifiably certain that we know more about the experiences we did not have than the ones we did.
If all this sounds rather like a Lewis Carroll self-help book, that’s because it rather reads like one. Before deciding on a career in psychoanalysis, Phillips flirted heavily with the world of literature. He would’ve made a fine fiction writer: style appears to be, for Phillips, at least as important as substance. Unfortunately, he sometimes indulges in flowery language, art for art’s sake and all that. For instance, take the conclusion of the work: “The ways we cure ourselves of frustration are the ways we cure ourselves of satisfaction. And the ways we cure ourselves of satisfaction are through too knowing, too efficient pictures of our satisfactions. We use satisfactions to cheat us of our satisfactions.”
Clearly, this is not the clearest text. It is most certainly not a case-by-case manual for satisfactory living. But, then again, a safari is not a biology lecture, though both occupy themselves with birds and beasts. Missing Out leaves you with questions and a general framework for discussing them. This framework is, I believe, left purposefully flexible by Phillips, who loves the protean quality of “truth.” The point is not to lay down laws in slabs of stone but to prod and provoke the mind to be a bit more introspective.
In fact, Phillips believes that our tendency to be too exact and stubborn with our thoughts is what brings us trouble. In his essays, he lays out a map of how desires spring up in us and how we sabotage their fulfillment. At first, something we have (or think we have) leaves us and we desire it to return (i.e. my girlfriend dumps me). In its absence, we imagine it to console ourselves: we create a copy of the wanted object in our psyche (i.e. i think about my girlfriend all the time). However, we quickly find out that this imagined image will not do the trick, it’s not the same. In response, we redirect all the energy we spent thinking about the object towards a plan to get the object back; a plan to satisfy our desire (i.e. I think about how I’ll get my girlfriend back by buying her flowers and taking her to a concert, etc.). We take this imagined scenario to be the ideal one.
Meanwhile, in reality, we usually find the object returned to us, just not in the way we had hoped (i.e. my girlfriend calls me and, in rather mundane fashion, asks if I’d like to resume the relationship). Now, technically I’ve satisfied my desire - my girlfriend is back. And yet, I am disappointed, drained, or disillusioned. Things are not as I’d imagined they would be. Because I placed too much importance on my imagined satisfaction, the experience I did not have, I am now incapable of fully enjoying the real, rather stale, satisfaction of my desire. Phillips’ proposed solution to this dilemma is that we should not overthink our desires once they’ve risen within us. We ought, in his opinion, be more attached to reality and what we can realistically expect than the world of ideal solutions, which only leads to real disappointment.
I’m not so sure whether or not I agree with Phillips’ argument, particularly the odd specifics (i.e. “Satisfaction is always a form of revenge”). What I am sure of though is that his thoughts had never occurred to me before and that they seem worth considering for a minute or two. Living more in your imagination than in reality - I never noticed that I did it until somebody else pointed it out.
Mungiello is an undeclared freshmen and A&E editor
[photo credit: npr.org]
P: Hi Juicy. I’m really glad you could come in today.
P: I can wait. We don’t have to start right away.
P: So last session, you mentioned you’d met a woman.
P: What’s she like, Juicy?
J: Short hair, like Nia Long.
P: Mhm. What does she like to do?
J: (shrugs. makes fluid, willowy motion with his hand)
P: What is that?
J: (repeats the gesture, curving his hand side to side, as though it were a dancer)
P: Is that “dance?” Does your girlfriend like to dance, Juicy?
J: Bands a make her dance.
J: Bands a make her dance.
P: (writes on notepad) Do you feel like you need money to impress women?
J: All these chicks poppin’, I’m just poppin’ bands.
P: And how’s your sex life with this…Nia, is it?
J: She give me dome when the roof gone, at the KOD she leave with me. She got friends, bring three. I got drugs. I got drinks.
P: But come now, Juicy - isn’t that behavior a little reprehensible? Can’t your censoring mechanisms somehow reprimand your infantile need for dominance and breasts, guilt you into controlling your primal urges?
J: You say no to ratchet strippers; Juicy J can’t.
P: (writes in notepad) …Why not?
J: Racks er’where, they showin’ racks, I’m throwing racks.
P: Can’t you just enjoy the company of a woman in a more socially acceptable, less taboo setting?
J: It ain’t a strip club if they ain’t -
P: Look, Juicy. I feel as though the adoration of these strippers, directed towards you, allows you to convince yourself that your ego-ideal is your ego-in-fact. That is, you have nothing to strive for - this sense of superiority you endow yourself with via this careless spending of excess money (which probably has its roots in your relationship with your father) makes you feel as though you’re “manly.” You refuse to accept the fact that you are inherently bisexual, have been since you were born. This abominable habit of yours is just a way for you to suppress the unpleasant realities of your Id, your purest infant Self. (removes glasses with exhaustion) I’m afraid that you run from your vulnerabilities, Juicy J.
J: (curls into the fetal position)
J: (quietly begins to sob)
P: Juicy, how much have you been spending at these clubs?
J: (snivels) 20 stacks in one night.
P: Tsk. Juicy!
J: (openly sobbing) I be on trippy shit.
(The psychoanalyst and Juicy J get up from their armchair and leather couch, respectively. Approaching each other, removed now from their symbols of authority and submission, they hold one other close in a comforting and human embrace)
[photo credit: itstubatime.com]
“I’m getting a bit old for imaginary friends,” claims a teenage girl as she skeptically regards a cartoon hand emerging from a cloud. Beneath this scene, from a poster on a G2 bus, large text invites the viewer to visit KidsWithoutGod.com, the new youth-centered site run by the American Humanist Association (AHA), a nonprofit dedicated to the idea that human beings can, and should, be “good without a god.” The AHA launched an ad campaign costing over thirty thousand dollars last November, purchasing advertising space on one hundred and forty Metrobuses in Washington, DC as well as online ads featured on high-traffic sites like Google, Pandora and YouTube. Disney and National Geographic Kids were approached, but ultimately refused to run the ads on their websites because of the controversial content.
But is humanism, or any sort of nontheism, really a controversial point of view in today’s open-minded society? The AHA was founded in 1941, and claims as its predecessor the Humanist Fellowship, founded in 1927 by University of Chicago professors. Despite its often overtly Christian practices, the United States is, at least in theory, a nation founded on the principle of nontheistic governing - by definition a secular government since its inception. Even some more tongue-in-cheek nontheist organizations are gaining popularity: the “Godless Liberal Social Society,” which takes its name from a comment made by Ann Coulter, has over thirty-nine thousand likes on Facebook. Freethinkers, a general term for those who engage in rational and skeptical investigation of the world around them, are no longer a hushed minority, but rather a sizeable, vocal percentage of United States residents.
Kidswithoutgod.com, aside from being promoted on buses, has laid claim to billboards.
The Kids Without God site consists of two separate websites, one for elementary school aged children and one for teens and young adults. Both were created by the AHA with the goal of raising the next generation of humanists. The entrance portal to the site says “You’re not the only one” - a powerful message to send millions of young people beginning to question the faith communities in which they were raised, some of which are hostile to such doubts. The children’s site introduces the concept of being a good person without God and emphasizes the importance of scientific, rational thought. Darwin the Dog, the site mascot, explains how to do simple science experiments meant to engage youthful curiosity. The teen site fosters a humanist community and includes a detailed section on how to deal with religiously motivated bullying, citing federal anti-bullying statutes and explaining how to bring a case to court. The site also instills the value of having respect for a religion without necessarily subscribing to its beliefs. Above all, the site emphasizes that it is not strange, wrong or evil to seriously examine religious arguments in support of God, and to find those arguments lacking. Kids Without God is not an attempt to ‘recruit’ or ‘evangelize’ on behalf of atheism, but rather a resource for young people who are ready to think critically.
Darwin the Dog, Kid’s Without God’s mascot for children
Here at Georgetown, atheism, secularism and other forms of freethinking are preserved and promoted by the Secular Student Alliance (SSA). Despite the university’s Catholic and Jesuit heritage, or perhaps because of it, the SSA is dedicated to combating the notion that ethics and morality must derive from religious belief. The SSA constitution establishes the organization as a “community for atheists, agnostics, humanists, skeptics and naturalists” in addition to its role as a forum for skepticism and scientific examination of the world. Alex Keyes, (MSB 2015) Marketing Chair of the SSA, explained that a priority of theirs is “to develop bonds with each other” and “to create a secular community within Georgetown, especially since religion does tend to be more pervasive than in other schools.” The organization promotes charity work and community development, hoping to dispel the notion that religion is necessary for, or even a part of, acting morally. However, the Secular Student Alliance is, as the name implies, secular, and not particularly atheist; in fact, they have chosen not to affiliate themselves with the national Secular Student Alliance because that movement is too explicitly opposed to religion for their taste. Keyes stressed that, “A secularist is not necessarily an atheist. An atheist is not necessarily a secularist,” and that “We want to encourage people to develop their own beliefs.”
Is it really important for humanist students to be an organized, official group on campus? Keyes says yes; it is only fair that nontheist students be able to form bonds with like-minded individuals based on their beliefs. “A community supports its members,” he says, “I think it is important that secular students have the same opportunity to reach out to a community as those students of other beliefs.”
Not all communities are so tolerant of freethinkers. As recently as 2011, the Toronto chapter of Alcoholics Anonymous voted to disown two subgroups, Beyond Belief and We Agnostics, for interpreting “God as we understood him” - from step three of the famous twelve steps - to allow for the possibility of there being no God. The weekly meetings also used an altered version of the twelve steps, one which removed explicit references to God in favor of references to the group as a higher power than the individual alcoholic. While AA is within its rights as a private organization to reject the two agnostic groups, some argue that to exclude some alcoholics on religious grounds is unjust. The twelve step program works, even for many agnostic AA groups which meet in more forgiving cities than Toronto, and to prevent nontheists from participating is to prevent them from getting and staying sober.
It is easy to get lost and feel alone when wandering outside the gates of religious belief. Secularism, humanism, atheism, freethinking - all are points on a vast spectrum of nontheistic points of view. National organizations like the American Humanist Association as well as local groups like Georgetown’s own Secular Student Alliance are important because they create communities for nontheists to discuss their beliefs free from attack. Organized atheism is not “just another religion” as some religious people maintain. Nontheist people need the spaces created by secular associations in order to freely examine their understanding of the Universe. Young people in particular need a supportive, secular space wherein they can honestly assess what religion has to offer.
Joyce is Commentary Editor and an Art History and English Sophomore
By Shannon Walsh
Do you like freedom? Good, so do I. As much of a fan as I am of the fact that I attend a Jesuit institution that gives us a boatload of time off in the spring, I often feel that Georgetown is grounded too heavily in its tradition.
Frankly stated, our school is having their cake and eating it too. The institution claims it is fully committed to an “exchange of ideas” yet doesn’t allow those ideas to be freely shared on the entirety of its campus. In text it all sounds fine and dandy, but in reality the school isn’t granting the freedom it claims it does. In a Huffington Post article from last year, FIRE (Foundation for the Individual Rights in Education) VP Adam Kissel recognized that, “As a private Catholic university, Georgetown has the right to clearly state, if it so desires, that it is Catholic and that its Catholic values trump free speech and equal treatment. Yet, Georgetown has generally done the opposite, promising free speech as a core university value.” Well, that sounds great, doesn’t it? We attend a university that revolves around the freedom to say what we want.
Groups that are not formally recognized by the university are more often than not told to take their opinions to Red Square or Leavey. Why is it that H*yas for Choice is refused the right that College Dems are granted?
For those of you who read up on this stuff, you may have heard something about “red light” institutions. In a nutshell, FIRE is a nonprofit organization that defends the rights of individuals at the university level. No doubt all this is going to get a little hazy when it comes to the rights granted in Jesuit schools, as Catholic values don’t always coincide with freedom of speech on topics like abortion, but FIRE has nonetheless written to the university three times condemning them for not adhering to the rights they claim to offer students. Consequently, they gave our private Catholic institution a ‘code red’. Sounds very dramatic.
Upon further investigation, I found exactly what it was that FIRE has called Georgetown out on, and went ahead and read Georgetown’s entire policy on student affairs. Their procedure in Responding to Unwelcoming Behavior was particularly amusing: “Students should be aware that as empowering as it may be to advocate for themselves, such advocacy is not always the best or most appropriate choice in every situation. No incident that involves physical violence or the threat of physical violence should be addressed without the assistance of a professional University staff person, the Department of Public Safety (DPS), or the Metropolitan Police Department.” Well, duh. Clearly we should not be such adamant proponents of anything that it brings us to throwing bricks at someone who thinks differently. And I, for one, have never seen a member of H*yas for Choice smack anyone from the Catholic Daughters of the Americas across the face with an oversized condom. Maybe it’s happened, who knows? But I digress. If the university is in any way, shape, or form implying that groups whose beliefs challenge Catholic ethics will in time become violent protests, then they are seriously outdated.
Georgetown has an “access to benefits commitment” that deems certain groups ineligible to receive specific rights. In a nutshell, the commitment outlines the different rights of student organizations, but it should be noted that doesn’t necessarily mean that these organizations are endorsed by the school. So, apparently a group is not granted access to benefits if it directly “advocates positions inconsistent with Roman Catholic moral tradition.” This is where I’m frustrated. If Georgetown just said, approximately 10 sentences before, that granting an organization access to benefits does not imply their endorsement of the organization and what they’re preaching, then why would a group that doesn’t adhere to Catholic morals be denied these rights? It’s unfair.
The fact of the matter is that the groups I’m concerned with here are not hate groups. We attend a school with a pretty well-rounded and level-headed group of students. And in no way do I believe that by enforcing a looser set of restrictions on free speech will organizations start screaming at one another or engage in any sort of wrestling match. Georgetown is probably just trying to keep the peace—to comfort those who chose this school because of its ethical and moral principles that lie in union with its Catholic identity. But the fact that what I’m addressing here has been an issue in the past, and that Georgetown faced an $8 million lawsuit in 2006 for “physical assault and battery against a Jewish retired ex-policeman” who attended a Palestine Solidarity Movement Conference just go to show that the university is not being clear enough in what it is that they support.
Blame it on the fact that I’m not that religious. Blame it on the fact that Georgetown being a Jesuit institution had absolutely no role in my decision to transfer to this school. What it comes down to is that the world is progressing in a way that is more tolerant of people’s differences— where taxes and welfare were once the most important considerations when it came to presidential elections, abortion views and stances on legality of homosexual marriages now hold more of a sway when it comes to voting than ever before. Georgetown is flirting with hypocrisy and if it wants to maintain its reputation as an elite college flourishing with student organizations and a medley of diverse opinions, it’s going to need to do things a bit differently.
Walsh is a Sociology Sophomore
[photo credit: Kathleen Joyce]
By Audrey Denis
Leo’s new ad campaign to convince people to get meal plans includes an image of a student kitchen covered in pots and pans, with the words “You don’t have time for this”. What they don’t tell you is:
The line for any conceivably desirable food—which is relative—at any time that a normal human would eat is so long you’re better off just giving up and eating cottage cheese.
If the lines get to you, you could always embrace your future and eat at geriatric hour: 4:30, perfect for a 9:30 bedtime.
The food is almost certainly made of air, no matter how much you eat, you will inevitably need to eat a second and third dinner.
Leo’s boasts extended late night hours, where they will feed you a vat of bacon with a side of bacon. Perfect, just what I wanted.
Late night also features hot dogs that were definitely recalled from the horse meat scare in Europe. They were on sale.
Just walking by will leave you with that distinct Leo’s smell, which all of your classmates will identify from the back of the class, for 3 hours.
Leo’s really only does well with foods that were supposed to be ambiguous and mushy anyway: meat-loaf, chicken pot pie, yup that’s about it.
Turkey meatloaf is not a thing.
Meatloaf cupcakes with mashed potato frosting are really not a thing.
In case your Tuesday was not painful enough, Leo’s sometimes spices up the average lunch with some speakers blasting Like a G6. Just like Saturday night.
Leo’s bought the world’s supply of thyme long ago.
12. If it’s not covered in thyme, it’s probably drenched in butter. Yum broccoli.
13. You will master the art of carrying at least 4 plates at a time, because you will inevitably hate everything you got and have to start over again.
14. Scavenging will become your second nature.
15. Hot bowls are great for ice cream.
16. Every once in awhile Leo’s embraces a theme and attempts to force everything served into the awkward culinary genre. President’s Day: Cheeseburger soup, yeah ok.
17. Maybe instead of being greeted with men in Tuxedos serving punch, we could have something identifiable in the home line, like sometimes?
18. I really want to be the Leo’s creative director.
19. Have fun drinking soda out of mugs, and eating exclusively with spoons. Challenge accepted.
20. Then there’s GAAP weekend when they put a corral and table cloths around half of the upstairs, like no one will notice it’s actually a zoo.
21. Leo’s decides to close upstairs with no warning, creating Hunger Games: Leo’s Edition, probably just for its own entertainment.
22. NEVER take too many sides at Grab ‘N’ Go, because the Grab ‘N’ Go lady will know, and she will get you.
23. The fried chicken and mashed potatoes from Grab ‘N’ Go might seem like a good idea while you are eating them. False.
24. No one has Panini press etiquette, and that one person always takes up the entire thing with their quesadilla. C’mon buddy.
25. Then there are those awkward conversations you have with strangers in the stirfry line. What sauce? What sauce? See you never.
26. When someone tells you more chikcen will be ready in 3 minutes, get ready to wait for 15 and ultimately give up because your friends are done eating anyways.
27. You will inevitably spend twice as much time waiting in line and finding food than you do eating. You will probably leave frustrated and dejected, having lost your faith in the world. And then you will be back tomorrow.
In short, ain’t nobody got time for that!
Denis is an International Politics Sophomore
[photo credit: Audrey Denis]
By Ben Maher
Wedding season is here, bringing brides and grooms each spring weekend to the altar of Dahlgren Chapel to tie the knot. But today’s college students are in no rush to join them.
People are getting married later than ever. According to the National Marriage Project, the average age of first marriage has risen to the historical highs of 28.7 for men and 26.5 for women. This delay is even more pronounced among college- educated women, who stand to gain the most financially from waiting: college-educated women who married after 30 make 56% more than those who married before 20. For students more interested in a career than a MRS degree, the twenties are a time for pursuing career goals independent of the restrictions of home and husband.
A flyer advertising Love Saxa within Dahlgren Chapel
But what is lost by spending your college years looking for hook-ups instead of husbands? Susan Patton posed that question in an infamous March 29 letter to the Daily Princetonian, in which the Princeton alumna berated the university’s women for essential wasting their time: “For most of you, the cornerstone of your future and happiness will be inextricably linked to the man you marry, and you will never again have this concentration of men who are worthy of you.” Patton’s letter was widely panned for its antiquated attitude on gender norms and smug Ivy League elitism, as well as just plain trying too hard.
Sean Sullivan MSB ’15 was put off by Patton’s brand of aggressive husband-hunting, saying that finding a spouse “shouldn’t be something you’re actively looking for. No one should actually think about that in their day-to-day life in college.“ Students have enough to worry about, from exams to internships to navigating the social scene; finding a life partner would be just one more stressor. You don’t want to seem desperate to get hitched before you’ve even graduated. And a single-minded desire to marry as soon as possible can result in “decisions that can be hard to undo, especially for kids who don’t always think about the responsibilities and expectations you’ll have in the future.” Most students have other things on their mind besides starting a family.
But Patton’s message seemed to resonate with Love Saxa, an initiative through the Catholic Chaplaincy to promote a campus conversation about loving relationships and marriage. On April 4, the group hosted a lecture by Dr. Patrick Fagan, Director of the Marriage and Religion Research Institute, or MARRI, about the value of marrying young. Citing MARRI data that married couples who attend church on a weekly basis report the most pleasurable and frequent sex, he advised the men in attendance to “find a virgin who goes to church weekly.” And it’s not just about sex. For some Hoyas, religion matters when it comes to marriage.
“Love is very important in marriage, but I don’t think it should be the only factor,” said Hamed Eramian COL ’15. “There are other important factors to think about, like shared major values: religion, family and morality.” Dr. Fagan called this “deep companionship,” a partnership not based on fleeting romance but friendship strengthened through time together. “When you go through problems of life together, you grow together and love each other more,” said Eramian. According to Dr. Fagan, the sooner a couple gets married, the sooner that process can start and the stronger that marriage will become.
A popular site for Hoya weddings…with a student discount
By Gianna Maita
Out of every 10,000 residents of DC, twenty-four are homeless, according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness’ 2012 report “The State of Homelessness in America.” With a population of at least 7,000 homeless people—not counting those who cannot seek help because of language barriers, or who are bouncing between couches of residents and friends—DC has the fifth largest homeless population in a metropolitan area in the nation. If you add in Alexandria and Arlington, that’s 13,000 people living in shelters, or else sleeping in alleyways and on park benches just miles from the Capitol Building.
To combat the challenge of homelessness, DC’s local government passed the Housing Services Reform Act (HSRA) in 2005. In its fourth section, the HSRA establishes an Interagency Council on Homelessness to bring agencies together to create policies, develop programs, monitor one another and budget for what the Act calls the “Continuum of Care of homeless services.” The Continuum of Care is essentially a set of detailed guidelines for the comprehensive range of services that different members of the Interagency Council and organizations in DC offer. It is designed to meet the unique needs of homeless individuals and families, but it also has preventive measures to meet the needs of those who are at risk of becoming homeless—including the 27,000 people in DC who are living in such extreme poverty that they cannot afford basic necessities such as food and housing. Those critically impoverished residents are a fraction of the people living in poverty in DC, who make up one-fifth of the total population.
Clients enjoying services offered by the Georgetown Ministry Center
Because so many of those people transition between levels of poverty and homelessness in a number of ways, the Continuum of Care tries to make the changes between services fluid. Its role in the HSRA is to guide effective responses to the dynamic nature of homelessness. It provides standards for programs that do not have many requirements, such as low-barrier and temporary shelters, and for housing programs with requirements that will help residents prepare for self-sufficient living, called transitional housing. There are also standards in the HSRA for more permanent support services which aid those who cannot afford housing or social services on their own due to permanent illnesses or disabilities. Lastly, the HSRA initiates the creation of a database within the Mayor’s office that updates information on the availability of beds, housing and other services at the agencies serving the homeless in DC.