As many as 800 single women are among the District’s chronically homeless population. Many have disabilities such as mental illness, substance abuse disorders, or debilitating physical conditions. Traditional housing programs -- with rules requiring participation in social services -- can be a challenge for individuals who have lived on the edge. Open Arms uses the “housing first” model, providing a safe and comfortable place to live, and then offering supportive services as an option. While some homeless organizations provide clients with housing at scattered sites in coed buildings throughout the city, Open Arms offers an alternative: women live together in a renovated building in Washington’s NOMA neighborhood that provides 16 efficiency apartments -- and a sense of security and community. Signing a lease, paying rent, and maintaining the property are responsibilities (and accomplishments) that generate a sense of pride. As a result, 65% of residents voluntarily opt-in to the mental health and substance abuse services that are offered. You can provide shelter for those who have none, and foster independence and hope in this community.

Headquarters: DC-Ward 5

Where They Operate: DC-Ward 5; Main office located in the NOMA Neighborhood near North Capitol St NW Washington, DC. Our other site is in the Trinidad neighborhood of Ward 5.

Age Groups Served: Adult (25-49); Seniors (50+)

Ethnic Groups Served: African American; Caucasian; Other

Population(s) Served: Individuals with Disabilities; Women/Girls; Disabled; Low- to Moderate-Income Community Members


  • Individuals housed (temporary shelters, transitional housing, permanent housing) annually:  
    Within the 5 years, OAH have housed 25 residents
  • Years of homelessness prevented:   80 years
  • Housing stability:  
    95% of residents remained housed and did not return to homelessness

Awards & Recognition

First single site project for homeless women using the housing first approach in D.C. 9/2009
First program to receive Dept. of Behavioral Health grant funds for Permanent Supportive Housing
Featured in Street Sense 2015
Featured in Enterprise Community Partners publication 2015
Featured in the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration publication as a model project for housing, 4/2013
Publication of Coalition for Non-Profit Housing and Economic Development 2012
Featured in the Washington Post, June 2009, November 2011
Publication of Local Initiative Support Corporation 2009
Publication of Home Builders Care Foundation 2009
Publication of Coalition for Non-Profit Housing and Economic Development 2012

Press

  • Women in D.C. housing-first units concentrate on their futures
    Sun Nov 15 2015, Washington Post  
    For the first time in her tumultuous 22 years, Kortney Parkey has an apartment of her own.

Budget (FY2013)

  • $3 million or higher
  • $1 million to $3 million
  • $500k to $1 million
  • The current budget for Open Arms Housing is: Less than $500k

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