Conway Center revolutionizes affordable housing in Washington, D.C.
Simone Scott and her children are among the first residents of the Conway Center, an affordable housing development in Washington, D.C., that also provides job training, health care, and other resources, thanks to a grant from Wells Fargo.
Just a few years ago, Simone Scott lost her job, lost her home, and suffered a seizure while pregnant, all in a short period of time, leaving her, her young son, and newborn daughter homeless. But after learning about the nonprofit So Others Might Eat, or SOME, Scott received housing and support, allowing her to get back on her feet. Today, she is enjoying her new home at SOME’s Conway Center and hopes to give back to others like herself as a wellness consultant.
“SOME answered my call for help,” Scott said. “SOME has stepped in and created a platform for where I am and where I want to go.”
Scott and her children moved into their current home in November 2018 and are among the first residents of SOME’s Conway Center, an affordable housing development in Washington, D.C.’s Ward 7. The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-certified building features 180 units for formerly homeless families and individuals, along with employment training areas, medical and dental clinics, office space, three courtyards, a playground, and two computer labs. The center, located near a metro station for easy access to public transportation, also provides a mental health and addiction recovery care center. Wells Fargo, which has supported the organization since 2008, provided a $160,000 Wells Fargo Housing Foundation Priority Markets grant for the Conway Center in 2016.
“SOME has tremendously sparked change within my family by offering programs that tackle housing, mental health, financial literacy, and child and adult programs.” — Simone Scott
“The Conway Center is already becoming a model for addressing affordable housing needs and shares our focus of strengthening communities,” said Martin Sundquist, head of housing philanthropy for Wells Fargo Foundation. “Each dollar invested through our Priority Markets Program acts as a catalyst for neighborhood revitalization work, and the Conway Center is a powerful example of the positive impact that can result from public-private collaboration.”
Father John Adams, president, CEO, and founder of SOME, said supporters like Wells Fargo are key to the nonprofit’s goal to end poverty and homelessness. “We are really thankful to Wells Fargo for the enormous help they’ve given us, especially with the Conway Center,” Adams said. “It’s our hope that Conway Center could be a catalyst for the ways we address the needs in D.C. By combining affordable housing, job training, and health care under one roof, we will be able to provide an integrated model that leads to better outcomes for our clients.”
‘There is a way out’
After losing her job and her home while pregnant, Scott lived with friends and family members and in homeless shelters, but due to stress and underlying health issues, Scott suffered a seizure and a brain injury and wasn’t able to carry her daughter to full term. The family then moved to West Virginia into a crowded home with a relative while they looked for a solution.
Because Scott’s now former partner was a veteran, she learned about SOME as a housing option for veterans. In August 2017, the family moved into SOME’s Fendall Heights facility. “SOME has tremendously sparked change within my family by offering programs that tackle housing, mental health, financial literacy, and child and adult programs,” Scott said. “The team is making sure we have the resources we need and asking what they can offer.”
While at Fendall Heights, Scott learned about the Conway Center. Since moving in, Scott said her new home has been great for her family. She and her children take advantage of the mental health services, the computer room, and the playground, among other things. “It’s like that new car smell,” Scott said. “I’m enjoying it very much.”
Through some of the programs and services SOME offers, Scott discovered her passions for event planning and health and wellness, and she is currently trying to start a wellness consultant business. She learned about microgreen farming, which allows her to grow food indoors and at a quicker rate, and she hopes to introduce other government program recipients to the practice so they can become self-sufficient and not have to worry about food. “I would like to bring more awareness to let the community who is struggling know that there is a way out,” Scott said. “You just have to know how to get there.”
Adams said the Conway Center is “a beacon of hope” for people like Scott. “She, as well as many families, have had to face barriers in life like domestic violence, mental health, and substance abuse,” he said. “Without a safe space to live and support services, it would be impossible to live with these barriers.”
Scott said she is grateful for the support she has received at SOME. “Everyone I’ve met at SOME always has left their door open to anything I or my children need,” Scott said. “They really don’t stop until they find a solution. It’s not always easy or the most fun thing to do, but they advocate for us. I couldn’t ask for a better team. Even though SOME is a stepping stool, it’s not the end. There is life after. My story is beyond where I’ve come from. It’s now about where I’m going.”