Case for Support

Central Union Mission
Case For Support

Homelessness and poverty are among the most painful and challenging issues facing our community today. The destructive hardship, hunger and hopelessness faced by the broken and vulnerable men, women and children in our city is profound. Regrettably, Washington, DC, has one of the highest rates of homelessness in the nation.

For more than 139 years, Central Union Mission has been a leader in serving people experiencing homelessness and poverty in Washington, DC. Compelled by our Christian faith, the Mission was initially founded with the goal of serving homeless veterans of the Civil War. Over time, our work has grown substantially to serve men, women and children in need in our nation’s capital. Today, we remain 100 percent privately-funded and operate four facilities that provide a world-class platform to achieve long-term, sustainable and systemic change in the lives of the people we serve, while daily meeting the immediate needs of the chronically homeless and those at-risk of homelessness and poverty.

  • Men’s Shelter: Feeds and shelters 170-200 men per day (on average, more than 60,000 bed-nights per year) and offers comprehensive in-house services, including: medical, dental and psychiatric care; addiction recovery; veterans support; spiritual direction; vocational training; education; employment placement; legal aid and social services.
  • Comprehensive Family Resource Center (CFRC): Building on decades of food and clothing distribution to as many as 5000 people each month, in 2022 we strategically expanded our support for men, women and children and are now offering a wide array of wraparound services to help strengthen families who are at risk of homelessness. We now offer job training and placement, education, social worker counseling, parenting classes, addiction support, English as a Second Language classes, child daycare support, legal aid, assistance with housing placement, and periodic medical care, in addition to food and clothing.
  • Lambert House: Provides transitional housing for up to 24 people. Men who are on the road to recovery are offered an opportunity to live in a safe, clean and respectful environment where they can leave behind their former lifestyles and continue to transform their lives to become productive citizens and reconnect to their respective families and build healthy, supportive communities.
  • Camp Bennett Christian Ministry Center: Provides a full Christian camp experience every summer for nearly 400 youth who live in poverty. For many, this is their first time attending sleepaway camp and is an escape from the city and the limited opportunities and negative influences prevalent in their neighborhoods. This facility also provides a platform to host a number of other Christian companies, organizations and ministries throughout the year.

Clearly, we are not just a homeless shelter, but we are both a provider of life-sustaining food and shelter and an agent of long-term transformation. We serve all people, regardless of race, religion, age, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or any other characteristic.

Our Focus and Our Future

Our vision is to provide a world-class platform to achieve long-term, sustainable and systemic change in the lives of the people we serve, while daily meeting the immediate needs of the chronically homeless and those at-risk of homelessness and poverty.

Our passion is to serve and our programs will continue to do what we have done so well for 139+ years: shelter the homeless and feed the hungry. However, we are not content to simply maintain the status quo.  We are striving to parlay our years of experience and expertise to restore the men we serve to wholeness in order for them to permanently get off of the streets, and we are serving women and children to meet their basic needs and mitigate their risk of homelessness.

Our Strategic Plan Focuses On Three Pillars:

Restoration and Transformation Program

People end up homeless for a variety of reasons. On the streets, a person’s physical, emotional and psychological health becomes compromised, and an acculturated lifestyle makes it increasingly difficult to permanently escape homelessness. Once this cycle sets in, a person’s ability to acquire and maintain a job is diminished, family relationships are destroyed, addictions emerge, mental and physical health declines, self-esteem drops, and a downward spiral ensues.

Central Union Mission created the Restoration and Transformation Program (RTP) to provide a platform for men who have the desire and mental/emotional wherewithal to rehabilitate and stabilize all aspects of their lives and return to normal life. The 16-month program begins with a robust assessment of each person’s mental, emotional, physical, spiritual, educational and vocational status and an Individual Development Plan is created. A multidisciplinary team of social workers, chaplains, teachers, vocational instructors, doctors, therapists, and others walk with each man toward transformation. The goal is transformation and systemic, life-long change through comprehensive wraparound services.

The vast majority of men who come to the Mission suffer with some history of addiction. We know that unless the addiction is addressed at the beginning, a person will not be successful in our program (or in life), so we provide both in-house programs to address addictions, as well as intensive residential treatment through a close partnership with a third-party provider. Once a man is fully matriculated into the program, he is provided with a stable and safe environment with food and shelter so that he can focus on the hard work ahead of him.

The program and each day are highly structured, and over the course of time every aspect of their lives are being addressed and transformed. Progressively, each man walks through his past issues.  Destructive thought and behavior patterns are addressed, addiction treatment continues, physical/dental/mental health issues are treated and their spiritual beliefs are explored. A strong program for workforce development and education provides opportunities to attain a GED, skill certifications, life-skills, hard and soft job skills and long-term employment placement. The goals are to equip each man with what he needs to be successful in the long-term. Before he leaves our facility, we work to ensure he has a job, transitional or permanent housing, life skills, ongoing addiction support, and a church partnership, if desired. Restoration of family relationships are explored, as well.

Comprehensive Family Resource Center

One thing the pandemic made absolutely clear: thousands of families are just one paycheck away from not being able to meet their basic needs of food, housing, utilities and more. The Mission has strengthened its support for families who are homeless, as well as those at-risk of homelessness. The CFRC provides a co-located spectrum of services that are critical to preventing family homelessness. Based on our 139+ years of experience, we know there are several key factors that influence a person’s vulnerability to homelessness and poverty, as well as their ability to overcome it. Among these are basic needs such as food and shelter; however, comprehensive wraparound services such as job training, healthcare, addiction treatment and childcare are essential in ensuring a family’s long-term success.  Greatly expanding on the services the Mission already provides, the CFRC delivers the following:

  • Food for as many as 5000 people each month
  • Clothing
  • Housing: Temporary placement and placement assistance
  • Healthcare: Direct services and insurance assistance
  • Job training and job placement
  • Education: GED preparation and attainment
  • Addiction support and treatment placement
  • Legal assistance
  • Spiritual guidance and nurture, Bible studies
  • Child day care referrals and guidance
  • English as a Second Language classes
  • Life skills training: Parenting classes, nutrition, budget management, etc.
  • Transportation assistance
  • Computer access
  • Senior citizen assistance
  • Assisting veterans and helping them access VA benefits
  • Assistance acquiring government-issued ID cards
  • Special events: Christmas gifts, Thanksgiving meal supplies, school backpacks, baby showers

Providing these services in one location creates ‘one-stop’ accessibility and a continuum of services that offers comprehensive family care and transformation. This model is viewed as best-practice across the country.

Community Collaboration and Peer Leadership

Combatting homelessness and poverty requires a vast array of agencies, services and partnerships. Public-private partnerships are critical, as well. While we work hand-in-hand with a number of other organizations, churches and DC government agencies, there is a critical need for increased partnership, collaboration and advocacy to avoid duplication, mitigate gaps in service delivery and promote shared investments in the community.

As a long-standing leading voice against homelessness and poverty in DC, we are working to provide additional leadership, direction and connectedness among stakeholders. As such, we are engaging both DC government and our peers to “move-the-needle” on accessibility and coordination of services, and to better leverage resources and reduce duplication of efforts where they may be wasteful. Among churches and other faith-based institutions, we are helping to ensure that homelessness and poverty in our community are among their ministry priorities.

The goal is to increase accessibility of services for helping people in need while creating more efficiency and impact.

Why This and Why Us?

Washington, DC, has one of the highest rates of homelessness in the nation. Despite the common misperception that all homeless people are either drug users, mentally ill or just not trying hard enough, the reality is that people from all walks of life fall victim to it — young, old, male, female, singles and families, educated, uneducated, black, white, brown and all ethnicities and nationalities. Homelessness and poverty painfully dehumanize individuals and puts stress on our socio-economic systems. It is a problem that we as a civil society must face.

We at Central Union Mission live by the Biblical calling to “love thy neighbor.”  We help restore hope and dignity to men, women and children who are going through what may be the hardest times in their lives. Moreover, the Mission’s work helps to create safer streets, reduce unemployment, and reduce dependence on local government. The Mission stands as an indispensable partner for individuals, churches, corporations, foundations and government in our collective efforts to help those in need in our nation’s capital. Our strengths are found in the following:

Our Differentiators:

  • Focus on men, women, children, families and senior citizens
  • Extensive experience and expertise; the oldest private social service agency in Washington, DC
  • Proven impact: 3 million meals and 62,000 bed nights of shelter each year
  • Proven success: the majority of our transformation program graduates are thriving
  • Not simply a shelter: we provide shelter bolstered with a full-spectrum of wraparound services for sustainable impact and change
  • Evidence-based programming and innovation geared toward long-term success of individuals
  • Adaptive to changing community and individual needs
  • Compelled by our faith, but we do not compel our faith on others
  • Efficiency: Low administrative rate, leverage of millions of dollars in gifts-in-kind, extensive volunteer support and service-provider partnerships allow more funds to flow directly to programming
  • Strong and experienced executive leadership
  • Focus on outcomes, not just outputs
  • 100% privately funded
  • Highly rated: GuideStar, Charity Navigator, ECFA, Great Nonprofits


Joseph Mettimano
President & CEO




Your Gift of $115 helps 60 people


Let's connect. Subscribe to get our latest news.