Michelle Obama and DC’s Poor

Jul 6, 2009

From Social Justice and the First Lady – Newsweek

by Eleanor Clift – July 3, 2009

“They are the legacy of a failed social policy that began in the 1980’s with the de-institutionalization of people with mental illness on the assumption that communities with the help of pharmaceuticals would absorb their care. “And that didn’t happen,” says Schroeder Stribling, a licensed clinical social worker and deputy executive director at N Street. As she takes me through the facility, she introduces me to someone she proudly calls “the anchor,” a cheerful African-American woman who is eager to tell me all the classes she has taken from yoga to anger management. She’s been coming to N Street for nine years and Stribling counts her as a success story by the four measurements she uses: health, housing, income and employment. Tanya has been substance free for two years, she’s in subsidized housing, she gets disability, and during the day, she does classes. N Street does try to place people in jobs if possible, and they’ve started a pilot program with “supportive senior services,” what we used to call nursing homes, where they pay half the salary for the first year for people they place to encourage their hiring.”