Holy Cow: Central Union Homeless Shelter Not Coming To Georgia Ave.

If anyone attends the press conference fill us in on the details.  I just received this in an email:  “At 2pm today in the 3500 block of Georgia Ave., Councilmember Graham
will be holding a press conference to announce that Central Union
Mission IS NOT coming to Georgia Avenue. They are staying downtown. I
do not know the details but this is good news!”

UPDATED: Email from Council member Jim Graham: 

“Good news!!!  Central Union Mission is not moving to Georgia Avenue in Ward One.  It is moving downtown. 

We have re-defined the project to include real progress for lower Georgia Avenue.  Instead of a 170-bed men’s shelter on the 3500 block of Georgia Avenue, there will now be mixed-income housing.

This is a solid victory for grassroots activism.  I worked with the neighborhood, who came together to send a very effective message that a homeless shelter was not the kind of improvement we wanted.

I joined Mayor Fenty this afternoon for a press conference to announce that the Mission had signed an agreement to move to 65 Mass. Ave.

Congratulations to everyone involved, especially the Georgia Avenue residents, local ANC, Georgia Avenue Redevelopment Defense Squad and the Pleasant Plains Civic Association!  And a special thanks to Mayor Fenty and his fine team.”

41 Comment

  • Hip, Hip, Hooray!!! I do hope HOWEVER that the people who are homeless in this neighbor get the services they desperately need. Anyone have any clue for how to do that?

  • Try one of the 14 shelters that have been documented in the immediate area.

  • Where should the Mission go? While I understand the NIMBY argument. It still hits me as bad form. Services are needed. There are thousands of homeless people in this city. Like it or not.

  • Where should they go? How about where they are now? Or how about Georgetown.

  • Read about it in the paper tomorrow, this is a truly great thing for the neighborhood, the city, the mission and the homeless. Councilman Graham and Mayor Fenty are sticking with the Homeless No More initiative, and the mission is extremely happy with the result as is the neighborhood.

  • You people claim to be liberal but reject the notion of having a homeless shelter in YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD, how tarded and anti-progressive you all are. You all want your organic nut breads and skim ultra skinny lattes and claim you are egalitarian… but this is quite the opposite.

  • The shelter was opposed by almost everyone in the neighborhood, from young newcomers to long time residents. The idea of dropping a mega mens shelter in the middle of developing, mainly residential area with a difficult past managed to unify pretty much the entire area

  • Homeless shelters are not progressive but rather regressive. They are temporary fixes which do nothing to solve underlying problems, and in this location, those problems would only be exacerbated. The plan for smaller-scale, mixed income housing makes a hell of a lot more sense for that location, and it’s not as if folks are trying to make this stretch a skinny latter haven as you put it … no one complained about the new charter school or the senior wellness center, neither of which are exactly targetting a wealther demographic. Nor will folks complain about carefully planned mixed income, mixed-use developments. Now, if that Georgia Ave. revitalization proceeds as planned this fall (I’m not holding my breath) nothing should stand in the way of a spectacularly revitalized Petworth Metro area to be good to go in about two years.

  • inmhiiyntyah-

    for the record, i don’t drink coffee, but i’ll bite on your other comments… if the shelter had offered a work program to the homeless and utilized the facility to bake those yummy organic nut breads and serve those skim ultra skinny lattes, now that would have been a different story!

    seriously though, the rejection of the central union mission was based more on the size and proposed operation of the shelter rather than the shelter itself. sure there might have been some people who just didn’t want it there, but us progressives and/or liberals could have actually lived with the shelter in that location if it hadn’t been so imposing on the neighborhood.

    the location for such a large shelter on georgia avenue does not seem to help those who need its services. while georgia avenue has its share of issues, a large homeless population does not seem to be one of them. most of the homeless in this city are downtown. so it makes sense to locate where the clients are. while 14th street isn’t exactly downtown it’s much closer than the location on georgia avenue.

    the whole deal was put together by a developer who owned the old car wash lot on georgia and proposed to the shelter that they move to georgia avenue where they could have a brand new facility in exchange for thier current location on 14th street. this brought up quite a few issues that bothered some people who live around the new site, namely that our neighborhood was better suited for a homeless shelter than 14th street which would have benefitted from condos and retail on the site. the shelter isn’t being pushed out of 14th street by the residents. but if it were, i’d bet you really have something to say if it were!

  • i’ve lived around the corner from this shelter for over a year and have never had any problems, inconveniences, or anything of that nature because of it. just a reminder that it is possible to live happily and comfortably in an integrated community. homeless people are just that, people.

  • Here’s what the Post has to say about it: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/04/02/AR2008040202287.html?hpid=topnews
    Sounds to me that instead of the band-aid homeless shelter, the city may actually try to help stabilize the homeless with consistent long term services. However, there aren’t enough details in the article to know how effective those solutions will be.

  • I’m so tired of people on the outside assuming only the new residents were opposed to this with our “NIMBY” ways. Talk to the people who have been living here 20, 30, 40 years. They were probably the most opposed but the least vocal because none of their cries have been heard in the past four decades.

    As for the homeless in the immediate area (and there are plenty) many of them would not have been accepted by the Central union mission because of their rules for admittance. Believe it or not, some of them (few, admittedly) would rather stay on the street. Services are definitely needed as Jason stated above, however, I’m not convinced that the megashelter would have been the best approach.

  • INMHIIYNTYAH, surely you don’t suggest that Ward 1 increase its already disproportionate number of homeless shelters (and project housing) to an even higher level of imbalance. I think most would agree Ward 1 has carried its fair share of a city-wide problem. Sounds to me like you have other unresolved issues.

    Native Georgia Ave Resident

  • For the last time, the comparison of the two areas is not completely fair. Bottom line is, it’s not coming so there’s no use in trying to justify each party’s position.

  • this is a sad day for the neighborhood of petworth, we have dictator roaming around the neighborhood… we see u ;-#?

  • The Washington Post has an article on the conference and how the city is going to try for permanent long term services instead of the band-aid shelters:
    “District Officials Announce New Approach to Homelessness” By Sylvia Moreno

  • Call me whatever you want. I’m so glad to hear this news. Identifying people as homeless never was very satisfactory to me, nor correctly descriptive of the individuals in question, as if all they need is a home and they’d be fine. But that’s a whole other story.

  • I looked up this new location for the homeless shelter because it’s right by my office and one block from Union Station. 65 Massachusetts Ave NW is the former Gales School, which has now been partially torn down but the facade preserved and is in the process of being reconstructed by the city. It was used as a homeless shelter before.

    This area doesn’t have much residential housing in the immediate area (it’s mostly offices) but it’s only about 3 blocks away from the swank new Madrigal Lofts, and 6 blocks or so from the Gallery Place/Chinatown metro stop.

  • As a progressive, the true liberal solution is to provide supportive house, not a free ride or temporary flop house. The new apartments to be built on Georgia Avenue will include 50 units of supportive housing along side of 120 units of market rate. Additionally, all shelters should have case management and supportive services. Now, thanks to the hard work of the mayor, councilman Graham, and residents of Park View Central Union Mission is subscribing to those ideals in ways they had not before. If you really care about the homeless if you study the plan this is great news for all.

  • I would much rather have the central union mission as my neighbor than the subsidized housing and public housing that is piled up along and off of 14th street. For example, the owner of the Faircliff plaza development on 14th street I believe purchased more property further up 14th street for development as section 8 property. I don’t think CM Graham lifted a finger to thwart that purchase. The existing Faircliff development has been a huge drag on the community and elicited a number of complaints from residents due to the trash, rodent and noise problems that it creates and that are totally ignored by the owner.

    Meanwhile, as I understand it, Central Union Mission has been a good neighbor to Logan Circle and obviously did not stop the revival of that neighborhood. I’m not sure I understand why we chose to draw the line here. I’m not saying that the community was totally wrong in its opposition — I agree that Ward one bears more than its fair share of the city-wide problem of affordable housing and homeless shelters. i’m just making the obsercation that there are many, many projects that may have a smaller footprint but do much more harm to the community as a whole. I’m thinking mainly of irresponsible slumlords and section 8 contract holders who are horrible neighbors.

  • Wake up! The chronically homeless are no-kidding crazy. And usually addicted. A “mission shelter” is a band-aid on a sucking chest wound. These guys don’t need a cot and a sermon; they require immediate psychiatric hospitalization and long-term custodial care.

    There are people who are not crazy and find themselves homeless. Studies show that such people stay on the streets for an average of … (drum roll) … one night. The chronically homeless are different: they are nuts, crazy, not mentally competent.

    Ironic that our society revels in imprisoning harmless and fully functional people for the victimless crimes of drugs and prostitution. But if a crazy person is defecating in the streets, aggressively panhandling, and trespassing on my doorstep, we won’t take them into custodial care.

  • Central Union Mission has been a terrible neighbor on 14th, the ANC even voted on a resolution to close them down in 2004. This is what Lt Smith from MPD had to say –

    “Central Union Mission has been a problem and it is not so much in how it is operated. N Street Village is different because it is set up for females and females normally don’t commit the same types of crimes as males. So many of the males at R Street do commit allot of crimes that we arrest them for and there are allot of order maintenance issues around the mission such as drinking in public, urinating in public and disorderly conduct. That is just the nature of the beast and we can’t just arrest the problem away. I see some drug dealing with the homeless, but mostly they just buy and use drugs from Riggs Street or the 1400 block of R Street.

    With better weather coming, many of the homeless will opt to sleep in the parks or other places like vacant building. Some of them will break into cars and homes to support there drug habits. I often go to the mission after hours, but I can’t get any staff members to answer the door. Once we were there looking for a murder suspect and the father that runs the location was telling the men not to talk to the police.”

  • I will be the badguy and say what everyone is really thinking. I dont want any homeless people running around the neighborhood messing up my property value. Period.

    More development please!

  • I object to the the exclamation points in Mr. Graham’s email press release. I also object to being excited about forecfully pushing a problem away. Mr. Graham is a terrible member of the City Council and has been hypocritical on many issues (where have the gay establishments gone that were torn down by stadium construction, Mr. Graham? You successfully pushed them away. No you have successfully–and gleefully–pushed away those that are the most in need. Take your priviliged and entitled self somewhere else!). Additionally, I am firmly against further destroying the metro map and insulting the intelligence of the residents of this city and the tourists that visit it by constantly suggesting the renaming of metro stations. Can we please have some historical pride and force people to pay attention rather than spoon feeding them??? BTW: Mr. Graham is now sponsoring the name “Union Station/NIMBY Homeless Shelter” as the new name for the Union Station metro stop.

  • I respectfully disagree with a few of these post. The area in question has numerous shelters and outreach centers. The community didn’t object to the shelter; they objected the method by which this shelter was coming in. Central Union was selling their current location, but yet had no firm location of where to go.

    If you wish to actually do something about homelessness, I encourage you to explore the Homelessness No More campaign from Fenty’s office. This program has the endorsement of Washington Interfaith Networked (WIN).

    PS, Say what you may about Graham. The voters of Ward One have approved of him.

  • I see, the homeless shelter was going to cause your real estate move in a downward spiral… I don’t want a homeless shelter in my neighborhood either, but damn, you people really take the bait.

  • We should just box the homeless up and send them to isolated island where they can’t bother anyone or ruin anyone’s morning walk to the metro. I’ll even donate some organic banana nut bread for the trip there.

  • Has anyone noticed how small the Gales School building is? It’s much smaller than the Central Union Mission. It might be as big as the Franklin School but if both shelters close I don’t see how all those people could fit into one small building.

  • The now defunct scheme for a homeless shelter in Petworth was based on an antiquated plan of care for the homeless. I believe on of the previous posts had it near correct when he termed it a flop house. The homeless have many needs in addition to shelter, some more important. Care should focus on assisting them in addressing those needs in hope that by doing that they can find their own shelter and means of living. Putting a large many bed facility in the witches brew of the GA avenue area would be like going back to the “glory days” of the 70s through 90’s in the current location. Just a bad idea. I don’t think folks in the neighborhood would have been opposed to a smaller and more focused facility in the area. In fact an argument could be made that there should be many of those, in all areas of the city. Okay some may still have been, but I think most would have supported it.

  • Maybe some of you should do your research into what Central Union Mission actually does. Yes, it is a shelter that offers a nightly respite for the homeless. But it also offers so much more that would be beneficial to any community.

  • Keep in mind 50 units of the new apartment build on Ga Ave are for transitional homeless folk who are ready for the next steps to success. That – essentially – is a smaller shelter. The difference is these units are for people who are ready to leave the streets. They will be right along side market rate units, integrating people instead of shutting them off. The 170+ to 250 bed shelter the mission wanted to build would have housed people not ready for that step. Still addicted to drugs or alcahol, still not properly diagnosed or treated for mental illnesses. This would have been disaster.


    April 2nd, 2008 at 3:55 pm
    You people claim to be liberal but reject the notion of having a homeless shelter in YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD, how tarded and anti-progressive you all are.

    You get on people for being anti-progressive and then you call everyone “tarded”…nice.

  • I would just like to interject here the the vagueness of some details is cause for concern. “A few of those apartments will be reserved for a homeless transitional program for people who are ready for the next step.” How many are a few? Transitional, next step? This sounds like a shelter to me. Does the developer have a name? Don’t underestimate the skill of these folks to do a ROYAL back door job and plant a shelter right there on Georgia Avenue. It just sounds like two shelters instead of one to me so the win win might very well be theirs.

  • There is an overlay district on Georgia Avenue, anything over 12,000 sf will need to go through the hearing process. Additionally, I have no problems with smaller tranitional programs. There are more than enough legitimately homeless people trying to get out of it. Cental Union’s mission is mostly for chronicly homeless people who would have brought their problems with them in very large numbers. Saying no to people who have jobs and want to function in society is NIMBY and classist, but being against something because it has real negative effects is rational. Again, this is mixed income development.

  • Everyone is NIMBY and classist to some degree and I have never claimed to be liberal but I have been called a ‘tard, but that all isn’t my point. There may be very little resemblance between what they are telling us will happen now and the reality of what they do later.

    WHO is the developer? CUM can form a new corporation and become the developer and change it to whatever they want. DC has a proven track record of ineptitude in watching over or regulating anything. That’s why the street is already so derelict. I have no problem with smaller transitional programs whatever that means either, but Georgia Avenue is ugly and needs to be fixed. There I said it.

  • Georgia Ave is ugly and the only to fix it is by… keeping out the homeless? Really? I don’t know how the homeless are going to make it even more ugly. I mean, most of the people in that area are living in poverty or are very poor and nearly look homeless already.

  • From what I understand the owner of the old car wash site is Alturas Development. They “swapped” this site for the CUM site on 14th Street. From looking at the tax records, it doesn’t look like the swap has happened yet.

  • NIMBY only applies when opposition exists to something currently not in existence. Petworth and Columbia Heights clearly don’t fall into that category. Besides, no logical justification exists for relocating the homeless shelter to a region of the city with an even higher density of liquor stores and illegal drugs. Foxhall or Spring Valley, for instance, would provide a much healthier environment.

  • I need some clarification Cliff. The transitional units sound like a good idea. Which new apartment building on Georgia are you referring to?

  • If I was moving into a building that was housing a large number of homeless men or women then I would expect a large discount on my condo or apartment. I’m not paying over 125,000 for a community full of former homeless men or I’m not paying more than 700 per month.

  • i hope some day none of you are homless. all of you selfish bastards savor your victory right in to hell.

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