As a result of today’s budget vote, considerable changes have been made to the Mayor’s initial plan to close the DC General Emergency Family Shelter and construct smaller, temporary shelters across the District. The Council remains fully committed to the plan to close the dilapidated and dangerous DC General Shelter and to replace it with smaller, safer, more dignified facilities located throughout the District. The main effort by the Council has been to move the temporary family shelters to land already owned by the District –this would enable us to save over $165 million in lease agreements and other expenses incurred by the original plan. With this reworking, we remain on track to close the shelter located at the former D.C. General Hospital site, but are moving forward in a more sustainable and fiscally responsible manner.
Through the Council’s process, the location of the temporary family shelter in Ward 3 has been changed from 2619-2623 Wisconsin Avenue, NW, a privately-owned site, to a new location at 3320 Idaho Avenue, NW, a District-owned site. The Second District (2D) Police Station is also located at this site. The new location was primarily selected by the Council because it is both located on District-owned land and otherwise satisfies the criteria for the shelters originally put forth by the Mayor. Frequently suggested by residents at community meetings, this site is also close to transportation, a grocery store and a park, and has sufficient space available for the structure. This also happens to be one of the locations that I included in an earlier, publicly disclosed letter to the Executive requesting further analysis and evaluation for the suitability of a shelter. To clarify, building the temporary family homeless shelter on the Idaho Avenue lot will not intrude on the community garden located next to the property and, with the exception of re-configuring the parking lot with stacked parking, is expected to cause little disruption to the operation of the 2D Police Station.
In the interest of transparency, I published my earlier correspondence with the Executive. And while the Executive has yet to make public an evaluation of the site, there will have to be an RFP process for design/build and other opportunities to discuss the particulars of this site. I believe moving forward on this site is the best way for Ward 3 to help the Mayor and the Council’s goal of closing DC General, which houses families in conditions which cannot be allowed to continue.