Home Builders Care Foundation

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About this project.

IOne of the first new permanent supportive housing sites for Washington, DC’s chronically homeless population, the Dunbar Apartments, completed its final phases of construction in the summer of 2009. The building’s tenants – women with mental illness who have lived on the streets and in emergency shelters for years - were thrilled to move into their own apartments and receive the supportive services they need to live more stable lives.

The Dunbar was developed by Open Arms Housing (OAH) an organization founded in 1997 by social workers who saw an unserved need among chronically homeless mentally ill women.

With total development costs for the once-abandoned building around $2.7 million, an extensive team of supporters was needed to see the project to completion. These supporters included the Home Builders Care Foundation’s HomeAid Washington DC (HADC) chapter, District of Columbia government agencies, several private foundations, and a number of community development focused organizations.

In 2008, HADC pledged its assistance to the Dunbar by agreeing to supply all appliances to the project. A sign of the times, initial outreach efforts to secure in-kind donations were not entirely fruitful. But in the spring of 2009, the champion of HADC’s very first project arrived when GE Consumer & Industrial supplied and delivered over 90 of its products to the housing project’s job site at a tremendous discount. With a total retail value of specified items listed at nearly $40,000, the final cost to HADC was less than half of retail.

While the building’s extensive renovation was near completion, the Dunbar team realized it did not have any funds remaining for landscaping. But with additional HADC help, they received some key exterior beautification from Ruppert Nurseries. In record time, the MNCBIA member swooped in to transform the bare and neglected yard into a beautiful urban space requiring minimal long-term maintenance - with knock-out roses, hollies, laurel, arborvitaes, fresh green sod and much more. Ruppert even threw in labor, soil, fertilizer and mulch at no charge.  Work was completed days before the grand opening.

“The landscaping is gorgeous,” commented Patti Kane, HomeAid Washington DC’s program manager. “Ruppert whipped up the perfect icing on the cake for this extraordinary project.”

Located in DC’s 5th Ward at 57 O Street N.W., the Dunbar is an existing two-story plus basement apartment building originally built around 1920. Containing a total of 19 units, it now provides housing for 16 mentally-ill chronically homeless women along with units for 3 staff and volunteers who will monitor residents around the clock.

Click here to learn more about Open Arms Housing or call 202-525-3467.

Open Arms Housing