WASHINGTON, D.C. – On April 6th, 2016, Councilmember Mary M. Cheh (D – Ward 3) asked the Department of General Services (DGS) to perform an analysis of three alternative sites for the proposed family homeless shelter in Ward 3. Frequently referenced by residents, the three sites are: 3320 Idaho Ave, NW; 3101 Albemarle St, NW; and 4100 River Road, NW. More than three weeks later, on April 29th, Councilmember Cheh received a flimsy and disappointing response from the agency that failed to meet the criteria of her request.
“After weeks of waiting, I’m deeply disappointed by the superficial and inadequate assessment conducted by DGS. Not only does the report appear to lack proper analysis and effort, but it features the earmarks of an agency intent on saying ‘no’ without any intention of serious consideration,” said Councilmember Cheh.
A preliminary assessment of DGS’s response indicates that the agency has not, in fact, conducted any further analysis of the three alternative shelter locations in Ward 3. For example, DGS stated that the 3320 Idaho Ave location is the current site of a public park and that the Second District (2D) Police Station would need to relocate to accommodate the shelter. However, the park referenced is actually located across the street, and there remains an additional 48,000 square feet of land available on the 2D Police Station lot that could be used to accommodate the short term family housing facility. The analysis of the 3101 Albemarle St site provides no additional information than was previously released about the site and no information about the failed negotiations with the property owner. The justification for a lack of consideration of the lot at 4100 River Road states that because the site was not initially considered by the solicitation team, it could not be evaluated at all.
“In response to DGS’s letter and its empty and erroneous assessment, I’m going to resubmit the three locations and request a more detailed analysis. Many residents have expressed disappointment over the lack of public engagement throughout the site selection process and concern that the current Wisconsin Avenue site was chosen over other, seemingly better suited, locations. I had hoped that an honest evaluation of additional sites by DGS would provide greater clarity and assurance –however that was not the case. Perhaps the Wisconsin Avenue site will remain the most viable option, but it would seem this can’t be confidently known without greater analysis and comparative evaluation,” said Councilmember Cheh.
Councilmember Cheh’s Letter to DGS: 2016-04-06 DGS Weaver Ward 3 Short Term Housing Sites
Response from DGS: 2016-04-29 Chris Weaver