This morning, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced a new Downtown Day Service Center for the homeless. The mayor confirmed the city’s commitment to make homelessness “rare, brief, and nonrecurring” in the District.
The new center will be housed in the Presbyterian Church at 1313 New York Ave NW. Moya Design Partners has been selected to do the interior architecture for the project including graphics and visual design, as well as some branding work and the project’s website.
“As architects and responsible citizens, it is an honor for our firm to contribute to the support of people experiencing homelessness in Washington, D.C.,” said Paola Moya, CEO & Founder of Moya Design Partners. “We are committed to providing services to those in need. The MOYA team is privileged to be part of projects that address solutions to our most vulnerable communities.”
Since taking office, Mayor Bowser has introduced several initiatives to prevent and alleviate homelessness, including:
  • Increasing investments in permanent housing programs;
  • Developing interim eligibility to provide immediate shelter for families in crisis; and
  • Launching Solid Foundations DC, a plan to prevent and end youth homelessness by 2022
These programs have helped more than 2,700 families avoid prolonged homelessness and have connected more than 1,800 veterans to permanent housing. In addition, Solid Foundations DC calls for an increase in the number of beds for young people with resources for rapid re-housing. It’s the city’s first ever data-driven plan for the needs of unaccompanied youth.
The new Day Service Center is an outreach program of the DowntownDC Business Improvement District (BID) and Pathways to Housing DC. For over twenty years, @DowntownDCBID and @PathwaysDC have provided street-level homeless intervention and services. They promote a pragmatic, street-to-independence model known as Housing First. Endorsed by the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, Housing First promotes stability through rapid housing and supportive services.
The Downtown Day Service Center will meet the twin goals of expanding D.C.’s Housing First programs and increasing the network of service providers. Youth and adults will be able to stay for a few hours, receive necessities, and connect with resources and peers. They’ll have access to kitchens, showers, laundry, board games, TV, movies, and books. The drop-in center will foster close connections between participants and the community.
In addition to daily necessities, the center will provide frontline health services. “Chronic mental health issues amongst the older homeless population is something that’s pretty common and you expect it,” said Pam Lieber, a staff member at the nearby First Church youth drop-in. It’s also a need their team sees in young people. United Healthcare and the DC Department of Employment Services have already signed on to provide services at the new downtown center.
And services won’t end when participants walk out the door. Drop-in centers provide snack packs for people to take with them. They hold events like Thanksgiving dinners and ‘scarf, hat, and glove’ drives to help participants stay warm outdoors.
To reach those who may not attend drop-ins, mobile health units will continue to comb the city. For example, Sasha Bruce Youthwork connects with young people. Their van is packed with snacks, condoms, water, and other supplies. They also offer free HIV testing.


A socially innovative center
When working on community projects, Moya Design Partners knows the importance of frequent consultations. We strive to communicate the design alternatives with an attitude of respect and admiration for those who will be using the space. Careful listening is essential. We make the process straightforward and transparent while bringing quality solutions to the table.
Our design intent for the Downtown Day Service Center is to create a cozy (home) environment where people can go when they need to take a shower, have a meal, consult with the social service team, watch TV, and be supported by the experts who work there. MOYA will go above and beyond to deliver top-quality interiors to house these essential services. The goal is to provide an open, warm, safe and welcoming space for our homeless population.
Paola Moya is the Project Executive with project design by Federico Olivera-Sala, architecture by Brian Taylor, and project management by Senior Architect Ligia Saldana.
Want a sneak peek at our material selections? We’re using contemporary grays and taupes with clean white subway tile and natural wood finishes. These eco-friendly choices combine with custom graphics to promote a calm, bright atmosphere for health and self-care. The center will have modern shower facilities, drinking fountains, kitchens, a laundry room, a TV lounge, and a meeting hall with plenty of comfortable seating.
“There is help. I was in the situation where it was me for myself. I was just providing for myself,” said TreVell, a youth who stays at nearby First Church. Before finding services, TreVell slept in laundromats or airports, taking his clothes to work with him in a duffel bag. He was always having to remain alert and attentive. “The center provided me with a safe environment where I didn’t have to worry about any of that,” he said.
 “Outreach is about meeting basic needs in the moment and then encouraging and making those referrals for young people to access later down the line,” Sasha Bruce employee Lorie Davidson said in an interview with D.C.’s Street Sense Media.
Downtown D.C. Reverend James D. Ross has said, “Beyond the games, beyond the movies, giving people a sense that there’s a place where they belong, reminding people that someone cares about them, I think that’s what’s most important.”
MOYA has a strong commitment to building community projects: Bright Beginnings, Diane’s House, Seton High School, and the new Downtown Day Service Center — all have a strong community approach.  We are honored to be selected to provide interior architecture for this important community project that will enhance the lives of homeless people.