The End of an Era

Dear Friends,

It is with mixed emotions that we are announcing that the Board of Directors for Carrie Simon House has reached the difficult decision to close the house and dissolve the nonprofit organization.

More than 30 years ago, D.C. government officials called on the faith-based community to address family homelessness, drug addiction, and other social ailments plaguing communities in the ’80s and ’90s. Rabbi Joseph Weinberg led Washington Hebrew Congregation in answering that call by conceiving of and providing the funding needed to establish Carrie Simon House. This transitional home has provided vital support to young mothers and their children facing homelessness in the D.C. area.  Since 1990, Carrie Simon House has provided a safe, nurturing home in Northwest D.C., along with individualized, whole-family support to more than 100 families.

Mentors, staff, and alumni of Carrie Simon House during a special Shabbat service held at WHC in 2016

However, a lot has changed in the last 32 years. The Mayor’s office and the Department of Human Services have invested a considerable amount of funding in bolstering the services available to those experiencing homelessness in the District of Columbia, including expanded opportunities for families to receive stipends that make renting more affordable. Since Carrie Simon House is a smaller private shelter that does not operate within the realm of government oversight, we are not in the financial position to offer the competitive services now being offered by the District. We are encouraged that there now are more resources and opportunities for affordable housing available to local families in need, including other organizations that are better equipped to address their needs.

Carrie Simon House, which operates as a separate non-profit organization, independent of Washington Hebrew Congregation, still enjoys a close affiliation with WHC and holds a special place in the heart of the Congregation. We are grateful for the years of continued support from the WHC community, including a particularly close relationship with the Women of Washington Hebrew Congregation auxiliary.

We know this news may be upsetting to many of you and we want you to know that this decision was not made lightly. The Carrie Simon House Board consistently measures our impact and ability to sustain our program. Prior to the pandemic, we began a rigorous strategic review and instituted what we hoped would be a way forward for our small, independent transitional housing program with a lean operating budget. We achieved some noteworthy success.  We hired our first Executive Director; diversified the talent on our Board; elevated the profile of the organization; and conducted widespread outreach to referral agencies, philanthropies, and donors. Despite intensive fundraising over the past year, we find that our budget cannot sustain the kind of program that addresses the current needs of the community, nor provide the necessary level of services to families who require more intensive trauma counseling and support.

In the coming months, we intend to sell the house in Northwest D.C. and donate the proceeds of the sale and all remaining funds to one or more organizations that have an established track record of providing trauma-informed care to women and children experiencing homelessness in our area. We will also explore potential partnerships with other mission-aligned organizations to ensure  that the legacy of the Carrie Simon House endures.

We will close the doors of Carrie Simon House having served more than 100 women and children in our local community. We are in touch with many of our alumni and take pride in their ongoing achievements. Many continued their education and graduated from college. Most are pursuing gainful employment and promising careers. Many now own their own homes and most of the adorable babies and toddlers who came to Carrie Simon House with their mothers have gone on to college themselves or are on the path to doing so. We will continue to celebrate their successes which would not have been possible without your support. Thank you for standing by us all these years.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

With my deepest gratitude,

Janet Katz

President, Carrie Simon House Board of Directors