Meet our Team: John Kemp
John Kemp is assistant director of permanent housing at Calvary Women’s Services. He oversees Sister Circle, the Reach Up rental assistance program (RAP), and the newest program, Sisters Rise.
John came to Calvary in late 2021 with a commitment to do all that he could do “to ensure that anyone we serve is left in a better situation than they were when they came to us.”
Calvary offers safe transitional housing and affordable permanent supportive housing in tandem with wraparound support services that empower women experiencing homelessness in Washington, DC, to identify their needs, set goals for their lives, and make lasting changes. When a woman leaves Calvary, she has the tools she needs to maintain financial stability and independence and become a thriving member of the community. Through its programs, Calvary has the capacity to serve up to 200 women a year.
In his role, John manages all aspects of the permanent housing programs and provides supervisory support to case managers, with an ultimate goal of ensuring all women who come to Calvary have access to “housing that is safe, stable, comfortable, and available to them long-term.” This includes the detailed work that comes with directing the daily operations of sites around the DC area.
John said a typical day includes virtual meetings, impromptu conversations with case managers, liaising with external entities, and lots of emails. He oversees client referrals and intakes, coordination of inspections and furnishing of the apartments, managing contracts and maintaining landlord relationships, and ensuring residents’ safety through a 24/7 on-call system.
John is always looking for ways to improve the infrastructure by evaluating existing processes and creating new ones to help improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the permanent supportive housing programs, especially as Calvary continues on a trajectory of growth and opportunity to serve even more women.
“My goal is to strengthen our programs so that the women we serve are supported to thrive and accomplish whatever they set their efforts to accomplish,” he said.
John has been working in the human services field for 10 years, after an old high school friend interning at a men’s emergency shelter encouraged John to join him in the work. John said he avoided the opportunity at first, fearing that “I wouldn’t be able to do the job since I had never done anything like it.” He finally joined the shelter team on a seasonal basis. When he departed that agency four years later, he had been promoted and served in roles ranging from seasonal case aide to interim house manager as well as full-time case aide supervisor.
“I fell in love with being a positive and transformative part of people’s journey during their time of need, and I have been doing this work ever since,” John said.
Even after his years of serving others, John continues to be surprised by the full scope and scale of the problem of homelessness in DC and beyond. “To think, despite the incredible work Calvary does and all the women we serve each year, that there are still so many in need of support is truly humbling and concerning,” he said. “It really highlights the need for change on a systemic level and the need for even more resources to address this issue in the interim. I am inspired to do this work by the depth of the need and the hope that we can truly make a difference.”
Learn more about Calvary’s programs and services.