Open Arms Housing (OAH) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization established in 1997 by a group of social service providers who recognized that housing programs did not work for some of Washington DC’s most vulnerable women who had been chronically homeless.
Since opening, OAH has provided sanctuary to women who previously slept in public places; navigated in wheelchairs while living in shelters; suffered from cancer while living on the streets, and who have a wide range of mental health issues.
OAH has a 94 percent success rate of residents remaining in safe, secure, permanent housing and has maintained that rate since opening its first facility in 2009.
The OAH model rests on the premise that stable, safe housing is necessary to promote physical and emotional well-being. OAH operates under a “Housing First” approach, which means that individuals are entitled to secure and respectable housing, but such access is not contingent upon any preconditions such as participation in treatment programs. Those services can come later, but housing is first!
The Mission of Open Arms Housing is to provide permanent homes with a welcoming and supportive environment to women who are homeless and who may have mental health issues. Our goal is to create safe, comfortable housing tailored to meet individual needs and to promote housing stability, using a Housing First approach.
Open Arms Housing was established in 1997 by a group of social service providers who recognized that housing programs did not work for some of Washington DC’s most vulnerable women who had been chronically homeless.
Open Arms’ first facility, The Dunbar, located in the Truxton Circle neighborhood, began housing residents in the fall of 2009. Its 16 units provide each woman with her own efficiency apartment that has a full kitchen and bathroom. The building has three wheelchair accessible units. There are shared phones, televisions, computers and spaces for meeting and get-togethers.
Our second building, Owen House, in the Trinidad neighborhood, opened in 2015 with one-bedroom apartments for four additional women. At both locations, OAH staff provide on-site supportive services to meet individuals’ needs, help them to achieve their goals and prevent a return to homelessness.
In 2017, through a contract with the DC Department of Human Services, OAH began providing housing at scattered sites in apartment buildings located throughout Washington, DC for up to 51 women. OAH staff deliver mobile case management and supportive services to these women.