Friday Question of the Day

IMG_4410, originally uploaded by Prince of Petworth.

I told you New Hampshire House was selling. At any rate I had the opportunity to speak with one of the new residents who is very pleased with her new digs. I asked her how she chose NH House over some of the other condos and she cited location as the number one reason. Specifically she was happy that it wasn’t right near the strip club on Georgia Ave. nor near the proposed location of the Central Mission Homeless Shelter. So my question is: how devastating will the potential homeless shelter move to Georgia Ave. be on people moving to the area between Petworth and CH? Will the development of 11th St. with Red Rocks, Warehouse, Wonderland outweigh the negatives associated with the homeless shelter?

57 Comment

  • Do we know the size of the proposed homeless shelter? As between a strip club and a homeless shelter, I’d take the homeless shelter. Fights spill out of the strip club and area violence is sometimes directly linked to it.

  • Just bought in this area between Petworth metro and the proposed homeless shelter – with full knowledge that the shelter might be there. So it did not stop us. Anyway the shelter is not a “done deal” yet – there is much opposition to it relocating here – and right next to a school!!!.
    The Central Union Mission site answers some questions and there have been many blogs about its relocation and Council member Jim Graham is against the move.
    I believe there is a zoning meeting coming up???? Not sure when??

  • I do think it will have an overall negative impact if it goes ahead!!

  • The proposed shelter is 170 beds (100 emergency plus 70 SRO). Speaking as someone who used to live near 1350 Rst (on 12th and R) if they move up here I am selling my house and leaving the city. Cliff from the UNC said there is a public hearing on February 19th 2008 at the board of zoning adjustment that will determine if they can or cannot go forward with this bad idea.

  • We live one block from the strip club and the proposed shelter. At first I was very against this but as I’ve gotten to know the people hanging out on GA Ave I’m wondering if this shelter might not be able to help them. Also, I never see people hanging out in front of Central Union Mission on 14th Street now. Whole Foods opened two blocks from their current location so it’s not the kiss of death! I don’t know if it’s going to hurt the commercial development but I’m feeling a bit optimistic that it might ‘clean up’ the neighborhood by reducing the number of people who hang out. Like I said, I was initially against it but after getting to know these folks, this is their clientele and they might be helped.

  • wow.
    i’m kind of appalled at this conversation.
    does anyone think, hey maybe a homeless shelter will be good, because a lot of people will get a place to sleep at night?
    and not just think oh poor me, it really sucks when poverty inconveniences my lifestyle? or even better, wow yes finally a way to get rid of all those unsavory people who hang out on the street?

    like perhaps–crazy concept–homeless people have a right to a bed? and possibly (gasp) more than that?

    where do you suggest they put the shelter? would you prefer it if they were all relocated to a far away island made up of other untouchables?

    you’re spewing hate speech, and calling it acceptable commentary.

  • “Also, I never see people hanging out in front of Central Union Mission on 14th Street now.”

    Um. I do.


  • no…i’m just debating and dissenting, with you.

  • To the “appalled” anonymous poster, get over yourself. The debate is not about whether to build a new shelter, but rather about whether to relocate an existing one. No one is denying the benefits of facilities for the homeless. The only question is whether the move from 14th Street to GA Ave. is what’s best for our community. I live less than a block from the proposed site. You’re telling me that I don’t even have the right to ask how this will impact my community?

  • Anonymous 4:05 simply justified an alternative opinion to that which has resonated throughout most of the posts to this PoP question.

    Frankly, I agree with what Anonymous 4:05 had to say. Homelessness is a product of this society which we are all responsible for trying to counter. I’m really sad that most of you are afraid that a homeless shelter will detract new yoga studios from popping up in the neighborhood you have chosen to gentrify. Yeah, I said it, the G word.

    You all love to praise what PoP documents as “redevelopment” and “renewal”, but can’t you recognize the underside to this?

  • Even the people running the shelter have had to agree that many homeless have substance abuse and mental health issues that can sometimes make their behavior less predictable than, say, the families and retirees many of us in the PW live next to now. For that reason I don’t begrudge someone not wanting to live right next to a potentially unpleasant situation that didn’t previously exist when they bought the property. They have the right to enjoy thier property just like anyone else.

    I can understand this particularly because there are plenty of things I don’t want to live next to, including loud drunken fratboys and other obnoxious youngsters, which is why I am happy to be out of Columbia Heights. In fact, I’d like to approach city council about keeping anyone under 35 out of the PW. Let them annoy each other somewhere else with their Facebooks, iSpatulas, frosted hair, and flip-flops.

    I guess I really don’t want most of you in the neighborhood. Is that hate speech?

  • Anonymouse,

    Again, it’s not like if the new shelter doesn’t go up, the homeless will be left on the streets. Central Union already has a facility doing lots to help this population. They even own an adjacent vacant building that they could use to expand their facilities if they wanted to. The issue is not whether we should help the homeless, but rather how to go about doing it while having the least disruptive impact to the surrounding community.

  • dcdude–i get that it’s a relocation. my point remains that it’s incredibly disheartening/maddening to hear my neighbors in petworth talk about homeless shelters coming to town only in terms of how it will affect them and their agenda.
    like i asked before–where would you prefer they build the shelter?
    because if the answer is “anywhere that’s not around me”–that’s a problem.
    i hope that clarifies my thoughts.

  • I would prefer that they leave it where it is and expand at their current location if they want to. That way, the homeless population can continue to get the services they need without having to impact a different neighborhood that already has more than its fair share of problems. What’s so wrong about that?

  • I propose sterilization and/or euthanization of the homeless in lieu of the creation and/or moving of existing homeless shelters.

  • Again, to echo what anoymous 5:09 says… It is really sad that you can only view a homeless shelter as a “disruptive impact”.

    Poverty exists in this city in a major way and we have to deal with it as a community not by just trying to keep it out of our immediate surroundings but like actually structurally changing things.

  • 1st Anon 5:26, you’re an idiot. It’s hard to argue with someone who resorts to hyperbole and non sequiturs.

    2nd Anon 5:26, how can you say that I ONLY view a homeless shelter as a disruptive impact? I’ve said repeatedly that I recognize value of the services that organizations like CMU provide. How can YOU look at a shelter relocation and NOT ask yourself what kind of an impact it will have on the surrounding community. You have to look at both.

  • Anonymouse: At least there is a recognition of the problem and a debate in DC, in most places the answer to the homelessness problem is not to talk about it and provide bus tickets to places like DC (the City of Austin is famous for putting homeless folk on busses to Houston). Nobody is saying not to provide a place for folks to go, but it is only fair to ask what population is going to be served and what services are they going to provide — the answers can make a huge difference to the quality of life for those seeking the services as well as the neighborhood. I’m not sure I’ve heard cogent answers to either of those questions from the organizations involved and, with respect, it sounds as if they are not trying to answer these questions — which is a bad sign.

    You can’t just open the doors of a building and all of a sudden it becomes an ABC after-school special happy ending. Just like DC in general, the homeless population is very diverse, and if they aren’t providing certain services, or aren’t open during the day (like many shelters in DC) this creates problems that other types of shelters do not have. Just because it’s a homeless shelter doesn’t mean people who live here, who have invested themselves here, can’t ask these questions and be dubious of the effects.

    If this is going to be yet another facility to simply bring people from all corners of DC to house them like cattle for 8 hours only to dump them back out in the morning with no plan, no help, and nothing to do in a new and strange neighborhood, then maybe that isn’t the best plan for them or the neighborhood.

  • As a single female, within the same block as the propsed shelter, I, like many, have serious concerns. I am sincerely conflicted.

    The majority of homeless people are good people who have come into unfortunate circumstances. I understand that. Unfortunately, there is a contigent that is homeless because of drug abuse and psychiatric issues. Although a shelter will attract these specific type of individuals, these are also the ones the shelter turns away. That means these few people become my immediate problem.

    As of now, we have several people who “hang out” in the neighborhood, but at least I know their faces. If a hundred plus “strangers” come into my neighborhood each and every night, and only 5% are “trouble-makers”, that’s five more threats I deal with every evening I come home. Is that not a legitimate concern?

    The real problem is not the people who are in the shelter. To ignore this fact is living with your head in the clouds. For the people who challenge our legitimate concerns, let me ask how far away you live from the proposed site. And let me ask if you’ve ever believed in the concept of “neighborhood watch”, because for us, that will no longer be an option.

  • These are exactly the kinds of questions we should be asking ourselves, but apparently, according to some, that means you hate homeless people.

  • I’m not sure I understand why the people who would look down on those who oppose a homeless shelter in their own neighborhood aren’t opening their own homes to anyone on Georgia Avenue that needs a place to sleep.

    If all of you wonderfully altruistic people could just open your couches and guest rooms to any and all of DC’s random homeless, we probably wouldn’t need to have shelters at all.

    Problem solved, right?

  • Central Union Mission needs to stay where they’re at. Its not about wanting or not wanting a shelter, they have a perfectly good location right now. Some – not all – of their clients are big problems and the crime stats from 14th and R (7 arrest at the mission in 1 year) prove it.

    We already have homeless shelters here – and drug rehab clinics – and most of them are good neighbors (though the one at 1433 Spring street needs to be shut down). All the development south of the Petworth metro center (other than the Temperance Hall building) has been for free clinics, drug clinics, senior centers and charter schools. I don’t have anything against any of those services other than the fact that every human service that used to be downtown is being moved to Georgia Avenue or Spring Street or Park Rd. Concentrating so many services in one area is contrary to the purpose of the C3A zoning, as intended when it was rezoned in 1996. It makes it impossible for a neighborhood to thrive when so much need is put in one area. Its not even good for the people they want to serve. The “gentrification” arguement doesn’t hold any water because residents old and new, rich and poor realize why its a bad idea for Georgia Avenue. In fact, if you ask the seniors in this neighborhood why they are so upset with this its because they are sick and tired of outsiders who don’t live in the neighborhood telling them what Georgia Avenue needs. Ask them whats kept Ga Ave down all these years….

  • Cliff,
    I agree with you 100%. I live around Spring Rd between 11th and 13th and am sick of all of the shelters moving from ritzy downtown to our neighborhood! Wards 1 & 4 have more than their share of homeless shelters/rehab clinics/group homes! Why is that? We have a right to dissent to this activity just like any other Ward (especially those west of 16th). And just like Cliff said, citizens (rich/poor, old/young) are fed up! Those of us fighting the shelters existing and moving to the Spring Rd area are disgusted at how the city has ignored our pleas to tell us what is going on and who should be held accountable. Since our two meetings about the Spring Rd family shelter and the La Casa shelter moving to Spring, the promises made to the community have changed like the seasons. We have a right to demand the city to be held accountable for their actions. Most of these shelters are ill-managed and it’s very difficult to get someone to take accountability to deal with the issues. Just ask most of my neighbors along the 10th – 14th block of Spring Rd!!! WE ARE FED UP!!

  • Cliff,
    You can’t selectively cite the opinions of poor petworth residents when they sustain your agenda. Whole Foods and Yoga Boutiques keep your property values high where homeless shelters don’t. Who are these Yoga Boutiques built for? Not them, you.

    Why doesn’t Online Petworth advocate to take on a shelter that offers sustainable,
    relevant and working services to the homeless? Leverage your power for some positive change and lobby that Central Mission Homeless Shelter change some practices before moving into “your neighborhood”. Wait, do we REALLY care about the homeless and the services available to them?

    To the terrified single white girl: seriously? Come on.

  • Anonymouse:

    Before you belittle the “fears” of the single white girl – why don’t you contemplate the fact that one-third of all women will experience assault in her lifetime. Chew on that and get back to me about “fear”. I never felt completely safe living in Petworth – and I left but not everyone has that option.

    To relocate a homeless shelter so that a developer can cash in is ridiculous both for those who use the shelter and to those who are affected by it in property value terms. it is completely legitimate to voice concerns of fear and loss of investment. It doesn’t mean you are the only one who cares about homeless – it is a reality check.

  • For the record, the “terrified” single white female is BLACK, so let’s not make this a race issue. And for the record, this isn’t a case of an individual who has moved to an area that hasn’t had to deal with crime, prostitution, drugs, you name it. I lived in Shaw for over ten years so my familiarity with the “city” is unquestionable.

    And who said I was terrified? I’m being realistic when I say there are potential threats…but as I said, it won’t be coming from the people who are making use of the shelter. Will you come and personally escort the few unruly individuals out when the shelter turns them away??? No. I didn’t think so.

    And as for mega-shelters, as I’ve come to realize, they are an interim measure. They don’t solve the problem of homelessness. Whenever you house large numbers of people in a relatively tight space, you’re asking for trouble. That’s basic neuropsychology/sociology…look at big cities, take a look at the projects…etc. I’ll admit I don’t know what the answer is, but I’m pretty sure that a typical mega shelter isn’t it.

  • I forgot to mention that I work in field that has allowed me the opportunity to work with many of our disadvantaged counterparts in one on one situations. When you’ve stitched up the faces and reset the broken bones of victims who were assaulted in “shelters”, perhaps you’ll have a different view of what can and does go on.

    It’s not simply about people getting a meal and a bed to sleep and all is wonderful for the evening. I’ve met homeless people time and time again who refuse to go to shelters because they feel their chances are actually better on the street.

    People are homeless for different reasons. Therefore, different approaches are needed to solve their individual problems. Did you ever stop to think that the man who is homeless because of unexpected job loss doesn’t really want to share a room with the out of control schizophrenic? Herding them like cattle into one facility does not help any of them in the long run.

    Do not assume that everyone opposed to the homeless shelter is opposed to the homeless.

  • Heh heh.. I could not help a chuckle when Anonymouse’s assumption of the “single girl’s” race turned out to be false..

  • To Anonymouse

    Do the opinions of “poor Petworth residents” not count? Do you honestly think they feel any differently? Though the majority of people who read this blog are probably “newcomers”, have you personally talked to people who have been in the community for 30, 40, 50 years? I assure you that most of them are not happy with the proposed move.

    What do you have to say to them since you obviously think the rest of us are self-centered, opportunistic, lifestyle obsessed hedonists?

  • Anonymouse(sic)….I live 7 houses away from a 30 bed homeless shelter now, and I don’t do yoga. I would, however, shop at a whole foods if there was one close by. My agenda is to live in a safe neighborhood, and I don’t think it

  • I live near La Casa on Irving Street and worked a block from C.U. Mission on 14th St. for years. I understand that this is more of a NIMBY issue than anything else, people are worried about safety, if the shelter fits in the neighborhood and property values etc.

    All those concerns are valid. I’m not sure there is an individual saying “Yeah, I want it here next to me, bring the shelter to my neighborhood,” however its not a death knell. Look at the C. Heights Metro area near La Casa, look at the 14th St corridor near C.U. Mission. With nearly 10,000 homeless on any given night in the city (most are part of family units, not single men) there is a need for shelters where ever they end up being located.

  • It’s not a death sentence, and we’ll deal with it however it turns out. But it does make things a little harder. Georgia avenue is supposed to be part of the Great Streets initiative. It’s supposed to be attracting more business to the area by becoming an attractive destination.

    No matter how you look at it, s 100+ beds men’s shelter is simply not attractive. This may sound callous, but it’s true. Bringing business to the Ga avenue corridor has already proven to be difficult enough.

    Petworth metro will be the “center” of attraction for middle Georgia avenue. A solid pedestrian haven is desirable on the north and south aspects of it. The neighborhoods south of metro will be undoubtedly affected. Take a good look at 14th street. The bulk of pedestrian traffic is a couple blocks north of the mission towards U st and a block or two south towards downtown. Relatively speaking, the block the mission is on has little pedestrian traffic. What does this tell us?

    People still have reservations. Not only the residents in the area, but the visitors that are supposed to be attracted to area. Looking at the plans the city has had in the works for years, the placement of a huge shelter on Georgia ave is incompatible.

  • oops! that last line was not meant to be in bold. My bad…

  • The homeless shelter is moving to it’s proposed location. There is no way to stop it because unlike adult entertainment establishments or bars the city is not in the business of regulating private entities in the manner you are all proposing. The city needs more homeless shelters and those of you who bought around it knew exactly what you were getting yourself. Do yourselves a favor and embrace it… maybe even give an hour or two a week to volunteer there.

  • Reality Folks – “The city needs more homeless shelters”, what are you smoking? DC invests more in public services per capita than most urban cities and look at the crime and poverty here. You show us that you simply just don’t get it with you naively suggest that we throw money at the problem by simply building more shelters.

  • Anon – If you knew how to analyze and argument you would understand that I am comparing church run homeless shelters to other private entities that the city traditionally regulates. To simplify for you — The city will not step in to stop the relocation of the Central Union Mission homeless shelter because unlike bars and strip clubs the city needs more homeless shelters. Actually, in this case, the city is not gaining a new shelter… an existing one is moving to a new location. In any event no one is “throwing money at the problem” other than the private citizens who run the shelter (who, by the way, have every right to do what they want).

    In the United States, no one has the right to choose who moves into their neighborhood.

  • If the city has no power over such matters, then why has the process taken this long? This battle has been going on for at least two years and the zoning meeting isn’t until next year. In addition, according to an article I read some time ago, the representative for the C.U. stated that this location was not their first choice. Due to zoning constraints, they were unable to locate to the other locations one of which was on Benning Road. This is prior to the offer of the land on Ga. avenue. The city does have a say so…especially when they already have plans for an area. Look up the Great Streets initiative, New communities,…

    Once again, I hear the suggestion of “the newcomers are getting just what they deserve.” How do you justify the appearance of yet another social service to people who have been in the community for decades and have been promised something different over the years? It’s not just affecting the “individuals who want yoga centers and upscale dining”. It’s affecting a much larger community who deserve to see something else in their neighborhoods after 40 years of neglect.

    In addition, shelters do not solve the problem of homelessness. The intentions are honorable and some people are able to benefit, a few even thrive…but generally speaking, building shelters is simply not enough.

  • Reality Folks doesn’t know what he is talking about. The determining hearing is February 19th. In the BZA says “no” then they can’t build. If they say yes, we can still see what the courts have to say.

  • Anonymous – Again, you don’t understand what I’m saying. The city will not stop the move because homeless shelters are needed in the city. The Central Union Mission is an altruistic organization with a deep and old history in the city. It is much better run than city run shelters and it’s mission is something we should all embrace – clean living and move from homelessness to self sufficiency.

    You are fighting a losing cause. There is no way the BZA will stop this move so yuppies can attract a Trader Joes or West Elm to the area. Get over yourselves and learn to live in peace with your neighbors.

  • Wow…was on vacation last week and am just now getting caught up with this thread. But, just…wow. The disinformation being spread about the Mission is something else.

    I’m reading lots of speculation, but I’ll chime in with a voice of authority here. My wife and I live five houses down from the Mission on R St., and have been here for years. Truthfully, they’re a great neighbor. I walk by the Mission at least 3-4 times each day, at all hours, and only rarely do I see someone loitering outside, and it’s rarely for long. The premises are well-lit and maintained, there is 24 hour security and cameras sorrounding the building. Most importantly, it serves as a way to get people off of the street who otherwise would be there, thus filling a valuable role in the community.

    I can only shake my head in wonder at the people who are worried that the shelter will have some detrimental effect on property values sorrounding the proposed new shelter location. The Mission has been at 14th and R for years, and no one could say with a straight face that development in the 14th St./P St./U St. corridor has been stunted in any appreciable way by its presence. Truthfully, we both think that the Mission has been a fantastic neighbor, and are actually sorry to see them go, and find them preferable multiple times over to a strip joint. The NIMBY reactionism to the Mission’s relocation is really mind boggling. To anyone who cares enough to find out more, or to witness firsthand the “impact” the Mission has had on the sorrounding community, please visit our blog, make a comment, and we’d be happy to follow up with you. The Mission can be a very positive addition to the neighborhood, and I think a lot of people would realize that if they too a moment to ponder the situation rather than reacting so negatively to the words “homeless shelter”.

  • “Take a good look at 14th street. The bulk of pedestrian traffic is a couple blocks north of the mission towards U st and a block or two south towards downtown. Relatively speaking, the block the mission is on has little pedestrian traffic. What does this tell us?”

    It tells me that you aren’t looking very closely. We live there, and see pedestrian traffic there *all the time*. On 14th street, between Q St. and R St. (where the Mission currently resides) there is an upscale condo building, a high-end Asian restaurant, a jazz/comedy club, a forthcoming tapas restaurant, a gym and a convenience store. The vacant lot directly across the street, as well as the adjoining auto repair shop, will soon be converted to high-end “luxury” condos. The east side of the block cannot currently be developed because it is home to the Mission and a church. Across the street is the Whitman-Walker clinic and the Frontiers housing development.

    Additionally, the houses on the very same block as the Mission have seen their values skyrocket over the last decade. The Mission is adversely affecting development, street traffic and housing values in its immediate vicinity? The facts simply don’t allign with that belief.

  • Have people stopped to think that the reason business is starting to pick up in that block is because the people coming in know the shelter is leaving? The facts are that the developers’ intent is to turn the mission into high-end condos (Alturas). This has been the intention for years. Other developers make their decisions based upon what is coming to the area. They anticipate the forthcoming change. The houses will continue to skyrocket because there are other attractions to the area. What does Georgia avenue have of yet?

    All I’m saying is Georgia Avenue has not had a chance to thrive. The same way potential residents shy away from the idea of moving, many businesses will second guess their plans to develop alongside a mega-shelter that just arrived. To ignore that fact is a disservice to Georgia Ave yet once again.

  • To Ben

    Thank you for your thoughts on being a current neighbor to the shelter. It appears that Central Union does run their shelter more successfully than city shelters in general and I think that many of the comments above may not apply to the Central Union Mission specifically (my own included).

    However, I think that two compare the two areas is a little unfair. Whole foods was the major catalyst to start re-development of that area. Perhaps Park Place will be Georgia avenue’s chance. We shall see…But the mission was on it’s way out of the nieghborhood when all the development exploded. It was not on it’s way in.

    Personally, I feel the timing of the move of the shelter is critical to Ga. ave’s development. This will be a brand new state of the art facility which is larger than what exists on 14th street now. To have it be one of the initial developments on Georgia may retard the corridor’s already slow progress.

  • “Have people stopped to think that the reason business is starting to pick up in that block is because the people coming in know the shelter is leaving? ”

    That is–at best–a tenuous assumption. Even if there were a grain of truth to it, 14th street has been undergoing transformation for some time now, and it’s nearly impossible to argue that the businesses along the corridor have been adversely affected by the Mission’s presence. We have talked with a number of local business proprietors, and not a single one of them has had anything negative to say about the presence of the Mission in the neighborhood.

  • Anonymous 12:51-

    I understand what you’re saying, and I understand the stigma that is attached to a homeless shelter and the adverse affect it portends to have on the revitalization efforts. But if there are business owners who decline to open up in Georgia Ave./Petworth due to the existence of the Mission, they are simply missing an opportunity and haven’t researched the issue very well. Regardless of the news that the Mission will eventually be departing the area, the fact is that many businesses and residents have been coexisting (in many cases, flourishing) alongside the Mission for years now.

    No doubt, the construction of the Whole Foods and its associated development was a boom to the Logan Circle area, but it should also be pointed out that Whole Foods elected set up shop only 2 blocks from the Mission at a time when the Mission’s departure was far from certain.

    So long as the Mission continues to operate as it currently does, I don’t believe there’s sufficient cause for concern with regards to Georgia Ave.’s ongoing revitalization. Besides, the architectural renderings of their new building look quite nice, and should be a nice improvement to the Georgia Ave. streetscape.

  • Ben: judging from your description you presumably you bought into your neighborhood knowing who your neighbors were and had the opportunity to see how the mission operated, how large it was, what the traffic was like… that is a lot different from this situation, with all due respect. The neighbors on Georgia Ave. do not have the luxury of knowing what will happen, mostly because of the ham-fisted way CU has handled this.

    Much of the reportage I have seen gives conflicting and muddled answers from CU about very basic plans such as size, population to be served, and programs available. Your assumption that the shelter will be the same size and operate the same as they one on your block is just that, a very big assumption. I have read that this is to be a larger facility for men only… a smaller facility for women and children… it is going to have psychiatric care… it isn’t planning to offer such services… that it will offer programming during the day… it’ll be simply a sleeping facility closed during the day. ???

    The statements about this facility are all over the map and my understanding is that discussions with CU staff have been less than illuminating (though, admittedly I have only read about meetings rather than attend them). This is why people are concerned.

    At the very least CU has gone about this the wrong way and branding people who just want answers as NIMBY alarmists (or worse) is a very crude substitute for an argument. What happens on your block is no indication as to what might happen in a completely different location with a completely different facility and a different population. If the proponents want some traction on this why not deliver some consistent answers about the operation of the proposed facility? “Homeless shelter” can mean a million different things, from your good neighbor down the street to the Houston Astrodome after Katrina, and without CU’s plans being made very clear there is little either you, I, or anyone else can do other than guess.

  • I knew the 1300 block of R Street as long ago as 1987 when my bachelor father bought a condo here. At that time, there was a transgeder prostitute semipermanently posted on the corner, multiple abandoned buildings, and the occasional drug bust. The Central Union Mission was also located on this block well before then. The tax assessed value of my father’s property has also increased nearly 5-fold from its 1987 value. Again, CU has been on the block all this time.

    I myself moved to Logan in 2003, in the height of the real estate boom. In just 4 years, I have seen massive commercial and residential development in the neighborhood — long before (and after) CU announced their move.

    BTW, they are not much of a safety concern. The men who stay there now are locked in for the night. As a single woman, I have walked the alley immediately adjacent to the shelter a number of times — even at night –and I have yet to see a soul loitering there. The only major assault on my block while I’ve lived here was not perpetrated by a CM resident nor was it committed anywhere near the Mission or the alley behind its building.

    The Mission has been a FAR better neighbor than the Section 8 housing a block away that is a magnet for drug activity, loitering, noise, and litter. I think also that they have already sold their property; the rising neighborhood real estate prices allow them to make enough $ from the sale to really expand and improve their services. I’m afraid also that this means a move — to any neighborhood — is an inevitability.

  • It occurs to me also that the sh*thole that is the Franklin School has not hurt commercial development around Franklin Park. Like Logan in the 80’s and 90’s, this area was also known for drug dealing and prostitution, despite the offices along K Street.

    Residents at Franklin are not treated with respect, men can go in and out as they please, and there are no services for the homeless. It’s also hideously infested with rats. (See recent Street Sense article for more.) I think the sad conditions at the School drive the homeless into the park. I can also say that I have seen no similar problems at CU as I have observed at Franklin.

  • I hear all that has been said about the existing shelter. I have to agree with Oden. As was stated, the exact plans for the shelter have not been made clear as far as programs offered, etc…The one thing we know without question, is that this will be a much larger facility. That alone is a concern.

    And just as an aside, developers are in the know before the general population. When we heard of CU’s intention to leave, do you honestly think that was the first the developers heard of it?

    And Ben, you may be right when you say businesses will be missing out on an opportunity…but even you have to admit that it is a very possible scenario. Can Ga. ave risk scaring away potential business before it even has a chance to resuscitate?

  • Just once I’d like to see a proposal that a social service be located in Ward 3, or the western aspect of Ward 2 along the river…I wonder how well that would go over.

  • “As was stated, the exact plans for the shelter have not been made clear as far as programs offered, etc

  • Ben: Two reasons why I feel your assumptions about security are just that:

    (1) as anon noted the facility is going to be larger. When asked, point blank whether this means more beds for the overnight program (the program most people have issues with) CU agrees that it will mean many more and has variously answered 180 to over 300+. That compares to 80 beds at the current location. So, at best, we are talking about double, maybe quadruple or more, people seeking emergency shelter. (2) there is no guarantee that the population served at the location you are familiar with will be the same make-up (or size) as it is now. CU notes that 81% of the men in their emergency program are immediately from the 20009 zipcode prior to entering (and are generally 45 or older). That won’t be the case at lower Georgia as CU also admits that they originally wanted to locate in SE or H Street and that if they have the space they will be seeking to serve that population at lower Georgia. That means a lot more people unfamiliar with the area with no additional support system should they not be able to abide CU’s fairly strict policies and find themselves out on the pavement. Further, the demographics of the areas CU most wants to address include younger homeless men who have different behavioral issues than older men. While you like to ignore this, CU has been up-front about their evangelical mission to try and minister to a very different and larger population than they current serve at R Street. It is all over the website you cite. What this might mean for security and safety is not comparable to what you are familiar with in size or make-up.

    Additionally, CU is very clear that this facility will be serving a much larger population of families and men that it currently does not with “other” services. What that means you and I *cannot* know, because CU consistently refuses to give details and numbers. The provide a shifting list of bullet points, but no specifics about what will be going on at their location. Will this mean more emergency-type services than the 300+ beds they specifically advocate? They won’t say. If all the emergency shelters and all the emergency shelter populations had the same impact you describe from your neighborhood experience then we wouldn’t be having this discussion, but that is not the case and anyone who has bothered to look into the issue knows that. CU won’t commit to anything and simply states “our mission may change.”

    And you still wish to say it’s not an assumption when you suggest that a much larger, remolded facility run by people who continually fail to give details to the community about the basic operation of their facility is “of no concern”? Once again I suggest that platitudes from CU about what a good neighbor they have been are not a substitute for them ACTUALLY being good neighbors by answering questions and committing to basic plans about the operation of the new facility. What you find on their website is continued obfuscation and refusal to answer or deal with these honest questions and requests from the public they allegedly wish to serve.

    What CU (and some of their defenders) would rather do is engage in ad hominem character attacks on neighbors asking concrete questions. If you review their most recent “answers” (from August) they consists basically of vague references to how much good they do (and how wonderful they have been for 120+ years) and finger-wagging recriminations for anyone who suggests one of their clients would ever, ever cause any problems (that’s prejudice, you know). They never directly address the facts (such as the MPD statistics that paint a much different portrait of the R Street mission than happy anecdotes from people walking by). They are mealy-mouthed, non-answers, retreats into pointless and unverified claims, and complete refusals to abide by very basic requests from the community they supposedly wish to serve. It is an absurd stance.

    In the end I have to honestly say it’ll make no difference to me when CU starts operation on Georgia Avenue, which I agree with you will happen. I also agree that it probably won’t stop any serious development, that argument has little merit in my opinion as well. What I dislike is they pomposity and hypocrisy of an organization that claims to be serving this community. CU has determined to ignore any locals who dare question them or their very noble purpose. Why answer any questions when it’s easier to just call people prejudiced carpetbaggers who hate poor people? Whether the facility turns out to be a peaceful Eden with chirping songbirds or turns out like one of the larger emergency shelters in DC with recurring petty crime issues and unmanageable populations (or somewhere in between), that isn’t the point…

    I am simply sick of people suggesting directly or indirectly a moral deficiency in those people who live near the site who only want reasonable questions answered by an unaccountable and, frankly, obnoxious-acting religious organization that clearly feels it owes nothing to anyone not buying into their divine correctness and goodness. It’s a disgusting tactic and, with few exceptions, I don’t think most people demanding simple accountability are NIMBY reactionaries.

    CU is not being a good neighbor so far and you (or I) “guessing” that a completely remolded facility with a completely different mission for a completely different and larger population is going to operate the same as their current operation is an assumption to end all assumptions.

    Why can’t CU answer basic questions and agree to reasonable covenants with the community rather than retreat behind a holy shield of self-righteousness? Why is that too much to ask?

  • Anon: Originally CU did want to go elsewhere. Georgia Ave. is not really close to the populations they really wish to serve. They had a site located in SE but the ANC’s there ran them out on a rail when they tried to pull the same “our mission might change, God will tell us what to do” tripe instead of answering questions about operation. Of course, it was harder for CU to claim the neighbors in SE irrationally hated poor and homeless people, something they (and some of their supporters) have no problem stating now in lieu of an honest discussion.

    When confronted with facts (such as MPD crime statistics — i.e. NUMBERS, not stories) and reasonable accommodation requests as recently as August CU prefers to continue to ignore the people that live near the proposed site and their concerns. They know better and everyone on the other side are just alarmists that hate poor folk.

    Bottom line: CU says out of one side of thier mouth they want to “serve” this community, but when the community came to them with very reasonble suggestions about operation they curled their lip and dismissed the community with disdain. How is that being a good neighbor?

  • Oden,

    I don’t have time to respond to everything you wrote, but a couple of quick points. I believe some of your numbers are a bit skewed. To begin, I don’t know where you get the 81% figure of people from the 20009 zip code. Less than half of the persons served by the shelter come from the 2000–as per the Shelter’s own documentation. 81% of the people served by the Mission stay with them for 30 days or less–perhaps that’s what you were thinking of.

    Secondly, the Mission has also publicly stated–both at meetings and via documents on its website–that there will be no more than 100 overnight beds made available. True; this is a sizeable increase over the current 40 beds they offer, but nowhere near the “nightmare” scenario of 300, and certainly not beyond the realm of effective management.

    Beyond that, I don’t know what else to tell you. You clearly have concerns about the Mission arriving in your neighborhood, which I understand. But all I can tell you is that I have been living just down the street from the Mission for years, and have never–not one single time–had a problem. I’m not speculating here, I’m simply stating my own personal observations. The Shelter has very good policies and procedures in place, and according to the documents on their website the new shelter will be equipped with appropriate levels of security. Personally, I’d be perfectly fine with the Mission staying where it is–it doesn’t bother me at all. Unfortunately, that’s not in the cards.

    I say they’ve been a good neighbor because they have been–period. I have no problems speaking with authority here, because we *are*neighbors. And I spent five minutes perusing their website and was able to find answers or statements speaking to many of the issues you address. Try this link ( or perhaps this one ( I’m sorry that you are so ardently opposed to its pending move, but I think I’ve reached the point in this discussion where all I can do is throw my hands in the air. I’d encourage you to pop down to our block sometime and view the operations of the Mission firsthand, perhaps even talk to some of the people who operate it. Perhaps that will help assauge your fears. or perhaps not–you seem to have your mind pretty well made up here.

  • You’re “da bomb”, Oden! I would vote for you if you were running for something…

    Curious, though…You believe that the plans will go through. Why is that (given that zoning approval, etc… isn’t yet granted.) Do you feel all the fuss is a mute point?

  • oops, moot point not “mute”…

  • I don’t think anon above was implying there was no pedestrian traffic on the block of CU, just less traffic. The newest establishment is “Rice”. Other than that, there’s no real draw to those two blocks. I think that was anon’s point. Maybe it’s just coincidental.

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