“not pushing back against this location because we have a “Not In Our Back Yard” mentality – we’re pushing back because we already have homeless shelters at our doorsteps”

with or against
Photo by PoPville flickr user Eric P.

From an email:

“On Thursday night Mayor Bowser hosted a community meeting at New Cannon Baptist Church in Ward 5 to discuss her plan to end homelessness in all 8 wards. The community was told that the city intends to build a homeless shelter at 2622 25th Place NE in the neighborhood of Langdon. Many residents attended the event and expressed their strong opposition to the proposed location, citing concerns for both for the homeless families and the additional impact on the community which has numerous homeless shelters already.

Statement from Rhys Gerholdt (a Langdon resident near the proposed location):

“Building yet another shelter in Langdon would be bad for the homeless families, bad for residents and a very bad move by Mayor Bowser.”

“My neighbors and I applaud the Mayor’s initiative to tackle homelessness and have all wards step up to the plate to help. But we are shocked and appalled about site she is suggesting in Langdon.

“Constructing a homeless shelter at 2622 25th Place NE flies in the face of common-sense. If you were to dream up the worst location to put families with young children this would be it.

“The shelter would be in an industrial wasteland and a stone’s throw of bustling night clubs and a strip club and far from a single grocery store. It would also be just a few blocks from three facilities used as homeless shelters already, including the Days Inn, Quality Inn and a men’s shelter on Adams Place NE.

“In 2010 then Council Member Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4) asked ‘How could a government agency ask people in a two-block radius to support three homeless shelters?’ I agree with sentiment – that many shelters in one place would be ludicrous. So why are you now asking us to do the same in Langdon, Mayor Bowser? There are twenty neighborhoods in Ward 5 to choose from. Why on earth would you build another shelter in Langdon which is saturated with them already?

“Langdon residents are not pushing back against this location because we have a “Not In Our Back Yard” mentality – we’re pushing back because we already have homeless shelters at our doorsteps.

“I’m deeply alarmed that the process for selecting site locations as been hidden from public view. From what I understand, the government had developers sign non-disclosure agreements to keep the whole plan under wraps. And now when residents are finally informed about where the shelter could be built, at the community meeting the mayor indicated to me that she isn’t open to alternative locations, this site is a done deal and we are all wasting our breathe fighting it.

“I have been supportive of Mayor Bowser in the past, but her stonewalling today makes me wonder if she is working for us or against us.”

112 Comment

  • I’m not a NIMBY, I’m just a NOFD..Not on My Front Door

  • Well, yes, this is a NIMBY response, just one that has much more merit than the legal sh*tstorm that is going to arise from the proposed Glover Park location.

    • Glover Park’s approach will probably be more successful. Bowser was already on the defense yesterday, I can’t see a plea like this going that far. But legal action in Glover…well best way to kill a project is to tie it up in the courts.

    • What legal action? The comments on the Glover Park list serv were 99% welcoming. We have a shelter already in the neighborhood and welcome this for families in our city that need all of our help to get back on their feet.

      • Do you really believe that there won’t be some massive pushback on this? Initial response to a neighborhood listserv total community support. It only takes one dedicated lawyer to completely tank this for years to come.

        • I’m going to the meeting – as all citizens should – and will voice this concern. I am not a Bowser fan at all – but this is one policy that I completely embrace. How they will handle the education and school enrollment will be interesting, and surely will cause issues.
          But how you treat those with the least is a true test of an individual or cities character.

          Get over yourselves neighborhoods – these people are desperately in need of assistance, compassion, and grace.

          • You’re not the problem, it’s the small group of people of means with seemingly unlimited time that are going to cause issues. I mean, just look what happened with the Giant up the road! If there is no opposition to this at the community meeting I will eat my hat.

          • Wait, what meeting — is this some kind of subsequent meeting? My understanding was that the meetings were taking place simultaneously in all 8 wards last night. (I guess Muriel Bowser was present at the Ward 5 one and had her reps handle the other meetings.)

    • Just to be clear, the proposed Wisconsin Avenue location is not in Glover Park, it is in Observatory Circle. The northern boundary of the neighborhood of Glover Park is at Calvert Street, two blocks south of the proposed location at Edmunds and Wisconsin.

  • Wait a minute. 2622 25th Place NE is over 1.5 miles from the hotels and the men’s shelter, isn’t it?

    • The address is incorrectly written all over this article. It’s 2266 25th Pl. NE. 2622 does not and, as far as I can tell, couldn’t possibly (because of the train tracks) exist.

  • Completely agree. I went to my ward’s community meeting last night. I live a block away from the proposed shelter in my ward. My questions:

    1) Why weren’t we given the opportunity to vote on this? We live in a democracy.
    2) We have 2 other homeless shelters/food kitchens within a block of the one that is proposed. My ward is huge. It’s very hard to think that the location was accidental. The woman from DHS couldn’t give any information about the decision-making process, and in fact dodged it.
    3) Where the shelter in my ward will be located, it isn’t close to a Metro or many businesses, so assuming employment is a key focus – since the mayor thinks she can end homelessness – residents will have to travel pretty far to get to jobs. The city has cut back on bus service by my residence, as it is, so it would be helpful to both the shelter residents and the rest of the neighborhood to see this reversed.
    4) What’s going to happen to the land that DC General is built on? What kickbacks will Bowser and the council-members get from the sale of that land?

    From the meeting last night, I was increasingly upset by the lack of transparency we’ve been shown by the mayor’s office and the city council. DHS was unable to answer virtually any of the hard questions they were given, and the representative became combative when opposed.

    Personally, I didn’t like Gray, but he’s looking better and better with each week that Bowser is in office.

    • Vote on it? This isn’t ancient Greece, we don’t vote on every decision our elected officials make. Frankly, the fact that every neighborhood getting a new shelter has people trying to fight it is pretty much all the evidence you need that letting the residents decide where the new shelters will go will not be productive. Neighborhoods with lots of shelters already don’t think they should have to have more shelters. Up and coming neighborhoods say shelters will derail their progress. Fancy neighborhoods say they don’t have the other services homeless people need. The only thing they agree on: not in my backyard!

      • No, we live in a democracy, just like ancient Greece. Look at, say, New England, where towns put referendums on ballots all the time. Just because we live here, and pay taxes, shouldn’t mean we lose our voices. Given that we don’t have Federal representation, it’s all the more reason that we should be supporting the ability to regulate the decisions our mayor and councilmen make. How is it unproductive, letting people speak up? If we’re going to be impacted, we should have a voice. It’s incredibly paternalistic, otherwise.

        • We have referenda here too! They’re on things that are clearly popular but politically dicey (see marijuana). When it comes to hard decisions like this; things that nobody is going to vocally support, we rely on the less democratic aspects of our government. If we put EVERY decision on the ballot anywhere (be it New England, here, or Wyoming), none of the difficult stuff would get done.

        • Because if you let people vote on this then there would never be a homeless shelter in any ward anywhere in DC. Nobody ever says “You know what my neighborhood needs more of? Homeless shelters!”

        • “How is it unproductive, letting people speak up?”

          It’s unproductive because the mayor already knows that no one wants a new shelter in their neighborhood. Homeless shelters, drug treatment centers, mental health facilities, etc: there are things we need as a city, but that no one wants in their backyard. If she moves the shelter out of your neighborhood into a new location, a new set of NIMBYs will start yelling about it. If you want to live somewhere where there is a referendum on every decision that “impacts” residents, then you will have to move to ancient Greece.

        • We don’t vote on it because America is a representative democracy (aka a republic), not a direct democracy. That means we elect leaders to make these decisions.

          If you would like to be able to vote on this directly, you can follow the steps to make it a referendum here https://www.dcboee.org/regulations/initiative_and_referendum/guide.asp, which is within your right.

    • “We live in a democracy.”

      No, we live in a representative democracy. Bowser was elected to make decisions. If you voted for Bowser (or didn’t vote) this is your fault (partially TIC). If you voted for another candidate, then I guess you can criticize the system or criticize other voters for being dumb.

      But we obviously don’t get to directly vote on 99% of decisions that the city government makes.

      • Wait… what tricky little word is in that phrase, “representative democracy”? And, fine, maybe we don’t get to vote on everything; however, there’s a very big difference between deciding to not pre-treat roads before snow, and, say, this.

    • Were you by chance at the Ward 4 meeting? That shelter is located on a near major bus routes and is walkable to Takoma and Fort Totten. How close to Metro would you like it?
      Also, regarding your comments on “voting” for such a proposal…. what exactly could the city accomplish if every single thing was voted on? We vote for representatives. If you are unhappy with your representation, vote them out of office next time.

      • jim_ed

        The Ward 4 location is 1.5 miles to either metro stop. That’s an awfully generous definition of “walkable”

        • No point in arguing semantics, but buses during heavy commute time and a 30-minute walk in a pinch (which is how long it takes to walk 1.5 miles, maybe add 10 minutes if there’s a stroller) is a totally acceptable. Any closer to the metro, and people would be outraged that prize metro-accessible land is being paid for by the taxpayer for the poor.

        • HaileUnlikely

          Agreed with that. Proximity to Metro would be more useful for any non-driving staff, though. Train rides are comparatively expensive. In my limited experience volunteering at a shelter at my church years ago, I never new anybody to come and go by train (and it was two blocks from a Metro). Those who had somewhere to go almost exclusively used the bus. The the 5505 5th St location is actually pretty solid with respect to bus service.

          • This. $1.75 bus fare with free transfers (or $0.85 senior / disabled) is a big deal compared to variable / peak rail fares for someone living on a few hundred dollars a month, if that.

        • Not to be pedantic, but it is 1.2 miles to Fort Totten and 1.4 for Takoma, which for a healthy, able person would be a 20-25 minute walk. Although I understand that “walkable” is a completely subjective term, I consider this walkable for a healthy, able bodied person.
          Alternatively, a person could step outside and jump on the 63 and ride the bus up to Takoma or down to Georgia Ave/Petworth, or an E4 to Fort Totten. The point it, this location is perfectly Metro accessible, even more so than a great swath of Brightwood/Brightwood Park.

          • I also wanted to add this; for those who do not have ready access to a car, the definition of what is “walkable” changes very quickly. There was a time in my life when I would scoff at walking a mile twice a day to get to a train or bus for work, and certainly for those who simply do not have to do it and therefore don’t, I get how “walkable” might only mean a few blocks. However, I can tell you that I live the same distance to Takoma Metro as the proposed Ward 4 shelter, and it is absolutely walkable, even with a stroller, or better yet, a stroller-aged toddle who refuses to sit in a stroller. You see, what is “walkable” changes with the choices you have; if your choice is to walk or sit your ass home, you walk. If your choice is to walk or drive, you might drive. Put yourselves for one moment in the shoes of someone who is to the point of requiring emergency housing for themselves and their child, and let’s see what your definition of “walkable” is.

          • 1.2 miles is a 20-minute walk??
            .
            I’m not an unusually slow walker (in fact, I’m faster than many people I know), but my recollection is that 0.7 miles is a good 13-15-minute walk.

          • HaileUnlikely

            Honestly, I think this is a distinction without a difference. It could be next door to the metro and it wouldn’t matter. People who are living in a shelter ain’t riding the train, it’s all about the bus (at least in my limited experience volunteering at a winter hypothermia shelter at a church that was 2 blocks from the metro – people who went beyond walking distance during the day universally did so by bus.)

          • My estimation of 20-25 minutes are based on being a fast walker (I consider myself a fast walker, I regularly walked the 1.8miles from kids’ school to work in about 20-25 minutes, 30 tops if I got stopped at multiple crosswalks), a moderate walker (google maps put the walking time at 22minutes) and a slower than moderate walker. Obviously, you can always walk slower, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to estimate it taking 20-25 minutes to walk 1.2 miles.

          • Then with that logic, this particular shelter is incredibly “walkable” considering the bus stop is across the street.

          • jim_ed

            I understand that it is physically possible to walk 1.2 miles in a reasonable time frame, but that’s not how walkable is used in regards to metro access in DC. And close to a mile and a half is straining the definition. Not to mention the walk from 5th and Kennedy to Fort Totten is not through a particularly nice part of town – certainly not one I’d make after dark with children unless I absolutely had to, and I say this as someone who walks Kennedy often.

          • Walkability is about more than distance. It’s also about the built environment. If there’s continuous sidewalk and no major obstacles to the metro, as I believe is the case for the area in question, I’m fine with them using the word walkable. Even if it takes an hour to walk somewhere, it’s still walkable. And as long as there’s a bus, it’s transitable.
            .
            But, like I said before, this is all semantics. “My use of the word is more in line with the general populace than your use of the word” is a terrible and pointless way to prove anything about anything. The point is these people will have reasonable access to the transit.

    • LOL you are getting more

  • Linc Park SE

    Totally agree. Put the shelter near a Metro stop/major bus lines and a grocery store. There’s got to be land in NoMa or RI Ave Metro or near Bladensburg/Benning Road. Just think about services you would want in walking distance. Also remember “temporary” homeless shelters in DC tend to be rather permanent housing for whomever gets it.

    I think most ppl dont realize how much public housing we have in DC. Like… the building above CVS in Chinatown…

    • The proposed Ward 5 location referred to in this article is 700 feet from Bladensburg Rd., and there’s a bus stop at that intersection.

    • It is likely that the choice for certain locations was based on availability and land costs. Land further from Metro stations may be more “plentiful” and not be as valuable to as that close to Metro stations (if such/enough land exists and not already tide up in other project(s)).

  • This is absolutely a NIMBY response, and acting like they’re advocating for the homeless by including the location (“an industrial wasteland” and near “bustling night clubs and a strip club”) is ludicrous. Won’t opening this shelter get people out of the motels? Aren’t most of these homeless people women and children?

    • Actually, this proposal won’t get any of the 1000 families living in motels out of motels. This is solely to relocate the 260 or so families living in DC General. I volunteer at DCG with teens, and it’s a miserable place to live. It absolutely must be closed, and the concept of multiple smaller facilities is on the right track. But I want to make sure folks are clear about what this proposal will and won’t do.

  • The Prince is getting sassier and sassier with these URLs.

  • It is kind of odd to have shelter after shelter in one particular area.

    • But the places they mentioned aren’t in the same area. The three shelters they mentioned are all over 1.5 miles away. It’s completely disingenuous to claim they are a few blocks away.

      • I think this guy and all of the malcontents are awful people with awful motivations and I hope this shelter gets built, but…
        .
        By my calculations:
        Days Inn: 1500ft (.28 miles) as the crow flies
        Adams Pl. shelter: 1800ft
        Fairfield Inn: 2000ft
        Holiday Inn: 2050ft
        .
        But it doesn’t really matter. These are largely vacant and undeveloped. Using them is a good idea. The areas are close enough to transit that the families living there can get around (I think the proposed location is actually better for catching the B2 bus than the motels). I live nearby and support these shelters going there; DC General needs to go and this is a small price to pay.

  • Interesting. The Langdon Community opposes based on the rationale that there are already too many shelters in one common area and cites bad influences in the neighborhood for the families staying at the shelter. “The shelter would be in an industrial wasteland and a stone’s throw of bustling night clubs and a strip club and far from a single grocery store. It would also be just a few blocks from three facilities used as homeless shelters already, including the Days Inn, Quality Inn and a men’s shelter on Adams Place NE”

    But the Kennedy St Collective pretty much opposes for the direct opposite reasons. Their community is on the rise and a shelter would bring a bad element to their transitional neighborhood and that the shelters should be located near one another or in less progressive neighborhoods.

    Cant win situation which is probably why Bowser just had to pick locations and vary them across the wards so one direct group can not say that they are outright being targeted.

  • Not a fan of Bowser, but can you imagine if they had opened up the site selection process to every DC resident? I mean you’re never going to get everyone in a neighborhood to agree on ANYTHING, let alone homeless shelters. The shelters are coming like it or not.

  • Keeping these plans secret was an obvious choice for Bowser given the predictable (and, honestly, despicable) community outrage. The only mistake was having the public hearings at all? Not sure why she bothered.

    • Why is opposition despicable? Why is having public meetings a mistake? Her mistake was to not discuss these plans with communities, and to force them on city residents. One way or the other, I’m entitled to my opinion, as are you, and I am legally allowed to express it. It’s “despicable” to *not* allow voices to be heard.

      • “It’s “despicable” to *not* allow voices to be heard.”

        +1000,

        This isn’t North Korea. You don’t get to silence people you don’t agree with.

        • HaileUnlikely

          Contrary to what you may have inferred from the discussion a few days ago about the shelters, I do not believe it is “despicable” to not want to have a homeless shelter across the street from you, and I don’t have any desire to “silence” you.
          .
          I do believe, though, that there are some things that a government can legitimately do for which community input should not be given much if any weight, and I believe that this is one of those things.

      • I get that DC is a pretty liberal city but you can’t tell me that you personally would love to have a homeless shelter with homeless people loitering, begging, and littering all day right by your house or apartment. Enough with the holier than thou approach folks

        • I lived on the same block as a homeless shelter for many years. And now I live close to this proposed Ward 5 shelter and the many around it. Do I love it? No. But the alternatives are awful and representative of all our worst historical mistakes. We don’t want to cyclically isolate these people and then “gentrify” all over again. So people need to deal with this. And there’s clearly NO reason to think anyone’s going to accept it willingly, so government has to make a hard choice here. You have every right to voice disagreement any way you wish, but the government is not obligated here to give you a public forum to do it. And I’m not under any obligation to NOT call you a NIMBY, a malcontent, despicable, or anything else I very strongly feel you deserve to be called.

          • Just to point out that name-calling doesn’t help your cause.

          • Luckily, my cause doesn’t need help. The government is doing this, complaints or not.

          • Well, your user name “Timebomb” is a clue as to why you think there is nothing wrong with ad hominem attacks. I would be careful with throwing around words like malcontent and despicable, since they seem more likely to apply to someone like you–someone who resents others who have worked hard and saved to buy a place while you continue to stew in your envy and resentment. You want them to be upset and have them lose their investment because to you it would be like seeing someone envied in high school getting a thumb in their eye. Let go of your anger Timebomb. I know your life sucks, but envy is the worst of the 7 deadly sins. With lust, gluttony, sloth etc, at least you can have some fun doing it. You are getting nothing out of envy.

          • I own my home. And multiple investment properties, actually.
            .
            You probably wanted to play the “it’s easy for you to say because you’re rich” card instead. I’m more used to hearing that one.

      • You’re entitled to your opinion. Shout it at the street corner. You aren’t entitled to have the Mayor listen to it or care about it. Don’t like that reality? Vote against Bowser at the next election.

    • Accountering

      It is not despicable to not want a homeless shelter across the street from you.

  • Here in SW where the proposed site is, there is literally public housing right across the street & several more south of M ST SW, closer to the soccer stadium. We ALREADY have our big share of public housing, why DO we have to take more of this?! Why don’t they put this shelter in another part of the ward like Capitol Hill–oh, that’ll never fly with the neighbors there.
    Of course I’m one of those NIMBY–but you’d be too if it’s literally right behind your backyard–and you’re neighborhood is already doing it’s part to deal with the massive public housing it currently has.

    • I agree with you that Capitol Hill/Hill East should also be considered (and I live not far from DC General) but at the moment it may be case of is there a place that it can actually be done (i.e. is there a lot/land/building to put a facility). Years ago there may have been better options and still they went/had to go with DC General which is the facility that is being closed.

  • This reminds me of the sudden announcement that the Park Morton relocation site was going to be the Bruce-Monroe Park — keeping things under wraps and presenting them as a done deal. (Although I think it makes sense where homeless shelters are concerned, because few neighbors are going to be thrilled.)
    .
    “I’m deeply alarmed that the process for selecting site locations as been hidden from public view. From what I understand, the government had developers sign non-disclosure agreements to keep the whole plan under wraps. And now when residents are finally informed about where the shelter could be built, at the community meeting the mayor indicated to me that she isn’t open to alternative locations, this site is a done deal and we are all wasting our breathe fighting it.”

    • The Park Morton outrage is a little frustrating too. People keep saying oh why can’t let utilize some of the vacant building up and down Georgia. I get the sentiment, but the government already owns Bruce-Monroe. It would take sooo long to acquire those vacant buildings. It would also cost more money. Not to mention the Park Morton redevelopment has been delayed for too long now. And I think they’re utilizing some of the plans/ideas from the original plan so it’s not like it came out of nowhere in a few weeks.

      • Ehhh, I still feel like they kept it under wraps and sprung it on us.

      • The government already had a deal to acquire the used car lot, fried chicken place, and orthodontist at no cost. The government has the ability to acquire property quickly whenever a billionaire needs a new stadium. The idea that the only way to get PM done is to demolish a park (or half a park) is just BS. It’s a giveaway of valuable land to a connected developer, period. And there’s no way to unring the bell. Once the parkland is gone, then it’s gone, and the only way to get it back is to throw money at it, like the $50M they are spending in NOMA trying to belatedly build some parks.
        .
        And yes, it completely came out of nowhere in a few weeks. The city, developers, and area residents spent years developing a plan to rebuild Park Morton, and then the city threw it out and created something entirely new. I don’t know what you think is being utilized form the original plan, but as far as I can tell the answer is nothing.

        • But to be fair the plan for the Bruce Monroe site was never that it be a park, so if we’re talking about original plans you can’t have a park there either. Until very recently it was a school.

          • People say this a lot, but no one has ever explained to me why Fenty’s plan for that land should have any importance at all. Fenty promised to build another school there, but the city says it doesn’t need one, and Fenty’s long gone. Meanhwhile it’s a park now, and it’s popular. That should be enough.
            .
            My point with discussing the original plans for PM isn’t that only the first thought matters. It was that there was a good plan for PM already in place, and the mayor threw it out for no good reason, other than to reward one of her developer buddies.
            .
            If for some reason Bruce Monroe Park needs to be developed (and in my opinion it doesn’t) then it should go through the RFP process the same as any other public land disposition is supposed to.

  • I am a hispanic and I do not understancd why so many people are in such situation. This people received food stamp, free DC medical insurance and some others help. A hispanic cross the border not knowing where to stop to start a living, but three years later he is renting an apartment, he has two jobs and may be driving his own car, all this without government help since he has not documents to qualify.

    • There are many reasons why people who start fresh do better than those saddled with generations of problems. There’s no single answer or any kind of agreement you’ll find among Americans on the topic (clearly). But that discussion is neither here nor there when discussing the families in question at DC General: we need to do what we can to give these children a fighting chance at success. These shelters are better than the status quo and the cost is a small sliver of our city’s and country’s prosperity, which benefits us ALL asymmetrically to our contributions to it.

    • @Francisco –Bravo to you! The problem with public housing and public assistance is it just becomes a vicious cycle. How does a single mom have 5-6 kids & living in the projects continue to have more kids and seems like all their cousins and families do too?! Don’t get me wrong, I’m all progressive and all, but govt. need to stop the vicious cycle. 1st implement family planning.
      My family also came to the US as refugees from SE Asia and we were on welfare for a yr if that, working 2-3 jobs in restaurants, cleaning, gas stations, hotels, etc. –yet all the kids finished school, went on to college, graduate school, etc. It’s the American dream if you want it to be and work hard.

      • I’m all for family planning services for the poor (which are lacking and, in at least one regard, blocked by Congress every chance they get, but getting better thanks to the ACA), but the poor are also motivated to have kids, so this is going to be a problem unless we implement forced sterilization (which is obviously terrible).

    • A single guy crossing the border has an easier time and can work more than someone with a child which is who these places primarily house.

    • Drugs. The answer is largely drugs and mental health issues. Which is why people don’t want these near their homes.

      • Or, more broadly, self-selection. Immigrants, even if undocumented, are pretty much the cream of the crop of the population they’re coming from. People with mental health or drug problems aren’t making it over the border (or through a visa process, as is more often the case even for the undocumented that overstay those visas), so the population in question fairs better than the native-born poor.

        • This too. Leaving your country isn’t a passive act — you have to be motivated. And if you’re motivated enough to emigrate, then you’re motivated to look for work, etc.

  • I work on Adams Place next to the men’s shelter. This really is a dingy part of town. Clubs, garbage transfer stations, occupied and unoccupied warehouses. There’s even a cannabis grow op over here now. I’m not here to argue shelter or no shelter, but the proposed shelter is indeed within a half mile of 3 existing shelters:

    According to Google maps, the distance (as the crow flies) between the proposed shelter at 2622 25th Pl NE and the existing men’s shelter is “1,331.56 ft (405.86 m)” It’s 3 blocks (which consist of a garbage transfer station, a cement truck depot, and dingy auto shops).

    Distance from 2622 25th NE to Day’s Inn shelter: 1,603.54 ft (488.76 m)

    Distance from 2622 25th NE to Quality Inn shelter: 2,880.93 ft (878.11 m)

    Again, no opinion on shelter placement. But anyone who says this area is not saturated with shelters does not spend any time here. I’m here 40 hours a week.

  • I thought it was interesting that, if you look on a map of all the locations, other than Glover Park, every location is east of Rock Creek Park. I wonder why our west-of-the Park friends in NW are bearing a rather light burden? There are plenty of businesses and access to public transport, such as bus lines and the red line.

    • One of the goals here is not separating people who need help from their communities and the neighborhoods they’ve been in their whole lives (and probably generations). For better or worse, those people aren’t WOTP. GGW had a great piece this week on one of the many reasons: http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post/29728/modern-washingtonians-have-a-mandate-to-remember-black-georgetown/

    • It’s not complicated.
      1) No one wants homeless shelters in their neighborhoods. You use the word “burden”, and that’s indeed the general way of looking at it. The places that get them are places with limited resources to push back.
      2) Property values are lower in poorer in areas. For the same amount of money, you can house more people.

      • Property values are lower in certain areas AS A DIRECT RESULT of previous policy decisions like these. Do we now further entrench the problem?

        If all 8 wards of DC should help tackle homeless, all neighborhoods within a given ward need to do their fair share. Miss me with the “we’ve screwed you in the past so we may as well do the same because it’s (monetarily and politically less costly” defense.

        Mayor Bowser owes DC residents more transparency and input on this issue. She can begin with an explanation of exactly which sites were considered in each ward, why each was not selected, and what proportionate share of resources for homeless/transitional individuals is being borne and by whom. If she cannot do this, she is not fit to lead.

  • In fairness to the author, he’s kind of right. While this plan drops a shelter in each ward–equal shares of the burden!–it doesn’t account for the fact that several wards are already disproportionately full of shelters and social services institutions. I totally get the frustration of people living in Ward 5 or 7 or 8 or wherever, for whom this may just feel like more of the same.

    • Those people chose to move here? There was a whole lot of stuff going down in Wards 1 and (some of) 2 until recently. Now they’re some of the most expensive places in town. Things change, and tolerating the usage of unused swaths of land is a part of that process.

      • I’m not sure I follow your point. I don’t want to put words in your mouth, so I will ask–Is “You moved to a neighborhood that has many homeless shelters nearby, so you should expect more to appear there” a fair approximation of what you’re going for?

        • Not quite. More like “You moved to a neighborhood that’s currently a wasteland but poised for redevelopment soon due to its proximity to other development in a vibrant and economically prosperous city that’s hopefully not going to be in decline anytime soon. The areas near your house are going to get used and, because it’s currently unused, the pressure to put something amazing there right away is not going to be high. If you own your house and intend to be there for a long time, you will eventually reap MANY rewards for this time in your life. If you have no interest in doing that, consider living elsewhere!”

  • I know my position isn’t politically correct, but I’d like to know, what’s wrong with being a NIMBY in this case? I’m really not trying to start a flame war, but I’m reading these comments made by those attacking people for not wanting a homeless shelter near them and thinking to myself, “well I don’t want one near me either.” I’ve worked hard, given up a lot, but was able to buy a house in a neighborhood I could afford. I’ve worked on my house and gotten involved in my neighborhood to make it a more attractive place to live. Now the Mayor wants to build one of these shelters very close (within a block) of my house. Here are my concerns: when I go past the Snyder Shelter at 3rd and D Streets NW, I see large amounts of trash/litter, human defecation, and loitering. Do I want that near my house? No, I don’t. How is the city going to minimize the impacts of these shelters on their immediate neighborhoods? So far, I haven’t heard anything from anyone on this, though maybe I have overlooked it.

    • Everyone is working hard. Everyone is earning what they can, but heavily relying on the social contract in the process. I commend you for working on your house, but did you built the street? The sidewalk? The utility lines? Did you buy the house in cash or did you use a government-backed mortgage, courtesy of our heavily regulated and at-times expensive-to-maintain banking system? I know the system isn’t perfect, but it’s got you this far; the least you can do is accept that something like this needs to be done and it needs go somewhere proximal to where other people live.
      .
      Most people who don’t want the shelter near them acknowledge this and make up other reasons. For instance “we already have shelters here” or “this is going to be bad for the businesses that just got set up here.” In any case, the trade-off is unavoidable. No amount of promised mitigation would make you happy, and you’ve already admitted you didn’t even investigate to see if there would be any. You are not going to be the posterboy for getting people on my side of this debate to change our minds, so consider not wasting your time.

      • “Did you built the street? The sidewalk? The utility lines?”… lol. Seriously, that’s your argument? Weak, very weak. It has to go somewhere so we’re going to put it in your neighborhood regardless of the consequences it brings? You come off extremely arrogant and heavy handed, sort of like our Mayor.
        .
        “No amount of promised mitigation would make you happy” Again, a weak statement of arrogance. Here’s mitigation that would make me and several neighbors happy: the shelters be a good neighbor, meaning trash is picked up, loitering is addressed if it happens, cooperation with law enforcement if issues are identified… There are mitigations that would make me and many other people happy. What people don’t want are the negative consequences commonly associated with shelters impacting them or their homes. Address those and you’ll remove many people’s concerns. Arrogance, however, will not. <3 Posterboy.

        • Yes, that’s my argument. Things that need to exist have to exist and you don’t own everything within a 1-mile radius of the home the bank bought you. You aren’t going to buy the argument because it involves acknowledging that you’re just as much a government sponge as anyone.

    • HaileUnlikely

      I’ll respond to only one aspect of your post: the shelter you reference at 3rd & D describes itself on its very own website as “the largest facility of its kind in America.” By their data, they have 1,380 beds. For individual men. The new proposed shelters are small family shelters, which will serve 30-50 families, defined as one or more adults with a dependent who is a minor, the vast majority of which are single moms. I understand that you still may not readily embrace the new shelter right away, but you sound like a thoughtful guy, and I am supremely confident that you can appreciate the difference between 30-50 families versus 1380 single men.

    • “I know my position isn’t politically correct, but……..”
      “I’m really not trying to start a flame war, but…….”

      There’s always a but, isn’t there? And after the but is where your true feelings come out, so enough with the buts. Just come clean with your feelings, you’re only kidding yourself

    • Amen!

    • “I know my position isn’t politically correct, but I’d like to know, what’s wrong with being a NIMBY in this case?”
      .
      “NIMBY” is a pejorative term and it gets thrown around a lot on PoPville, but often it’s used to dismiss anyone who has concerns relating to their neighborhood. I think it’s perfectly understandable that people have strong opinions about all kinds of things that might be coming to (or leaving) their neighborhoods. I might not agree with a given opinion, but it’s not fair to say that people in a neighborhood should just passively sit by and not try to influence the course of action.

  • The langdon park location isn’t really anyone’s back yard – the train tracks cut it off from residential – it’s just a remarkably terrible place to put people unless you’re just looking to shuffle them out of the way.
    .
    But, give it a couple years, and there will be a post about homeless loitering around Echostage after a Bon Iver concert, and the Popville community will come to the rescue with urgent calls for city action.

    • HaileUnlikely

      Hah. Honestly, if I could have either a shelter that served 30-50 families, or else Echostage, across the street from my house, I’d pick the shelter in a heartbeat.

  • They are not planning to build a new shelter a block from my house, so maybe it’s too easy for me to be hopeful about this plan. But if they build these smaller shelters right — anything along the lines of La Casa in Columbia Heights (http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/housingcomplex/2015/10/15/concrete-details-la-casa-in-columbia-heights-is-a-rare-aesthetic-and-policy-success/) — I think they could be great, and they shouldn’t cause the loitering/crime/quality of life issues many seem to fear. Christ House and Joseph’s House in Adams Morgan also come to mind as good examples of quality shelters working well in high-rent areas.

    There are bad shelters and there are good shelters. DC General is among the worst of the worst, and we have the opportunity to replace it with something much better. There are over 600 kids at DC General. 600! Let’s make space for them in healthier housing.

  • I have been talking to and reading emails from community members in the Kennedy St. area all week since this was announced. Not a single comment I’ve received indicates that there is any hostility toward these families, or any wish to sidestep responsibility to close the horrendous DC General facility and offer these families a safe haven. We have members of the community who have experienced homelessness themselves, or have family members who have been homeless, and get it about the plight of these families. I would say by and large our neighbors want nothing more than to connect and engage with these families and see them in a more positive path in their transition to a new home.

    But please understand the context into which the city is injecting this new proposal. The city government has acted in bad faith so many times in its dealings on Kennedy St. that it’s very hard for residents to have trust at all in its promises of a glorious enhancement of the neighborhood with the addition of a facility for the homeless here. The neighbors remember when city officials called together residents to work with them on a revitalization plan in 2007. Those who worked on that plan provided that 5505 5th St. would become a mixed-use development with retail and housing, including a percentage of affordable housing units. That never got the investment necessary to be brought to fruition. The sudden repurposing of this same building seems a betrayal, and reinforces the perception that the city has always said one thing but done another, on Kennedy St. We have a 5-decade history of neglect, disinvestment, redlining and bureaucratic stagnation by the city in regard to this community.

    The government, needless to say, also has a terrible track record in planning, operating and managing facilities for the homeless. My neighbors do not know of a single instance of a well-run facility for families. They have raised questions about how well invested these families can be in the neighborhood if they are only here for 90 days max in a dorm-like setting, without private bathrooms and kitchens (according to the city staff at Thursday’s meetings).

    Frankly, I would feel a whole lot better about it if they were installing permanent homes for these families. What’s disturbing to me about this model is the churn of temporary residents in and out of the residence every 3 months. What kind of buy-in and relationship can we expect from families living here in this suspended state? I believe we would welcome the entrance of a new cohort of residents there if we were going to see formerly homeless permanent residents.

    There are also misgivings about the nature of the arrangements the city is making with the shady owner of that building. He has also acted in bad faith for 10 years with that building. The city is ready to negotiate a 10-year LEASE with him. Not buying the building outright, but leasing it. What kind of deal is that for taxpayers? The budget for running the shelter is $1.3 million a year. How much of that is paid to the owner, in effect rewarding him for his long history of misbehavior? This is really disturbing to residents.

    These are not NIMBY questions, they are legitimate questions by a community that would like to believe the city is acting in good faith. But nothing the city has ever done indicates that the city will be accountable for its decisions and actions in our neighborhood. Bad faith breeds more bad faith.

    Nancy Roth
    ANC 4D01

  • Zero transparency, collaboration and participation for the residents!

    The City needs to start over by engaging the public in determining a process for site selection, then site assessment and site selection itself. The public has key on-the-ground knowledge of specific locations, and the public’s buy-in is crucial to the success of each site. The public must be trusted to constructively help refine desirable site criteria crossed against available site characteristics. Such a process would help the shelters succeed, might actually find additional space, will help overcome inevitable implementation delays and ultimately reduce homelessness.

    As a homeowner near a proposed site, not one city official consulted with me.

    For the “proposed” V and 10th NW shelter, if site selection criteria include:
    1) 24-hour action (legal and illegal) centered around nightlife, clubs, music, drugs and drinking that trickles into nearby outdoor areas, and
    2) Low chance of building community, since shelter tenants will not be able to afford to live near that block permanently after their shelter tenancy term,
    … Then that location would score very high.

    That site will likely fail for shelter tenants.

  • Isn’t the ideal place for a homeless shelter in an industrial wasteland? I doubt the writer would support a shelter near his/her grocery store or home.

  • Why isn’t it OK to admit that people don’t like homeless people hanging around their neighborhood?

    • The issue is whether the city is really putting these sites across the city in an EVENLY & fair manner? Why should certain immediate neighborhoods be the dumping, ground zero for several public housing projects (ex. SW)? If the city really wants to spread this around, take it other neighborhoods such as Capitol Hill/Navy Yard that has ZERO public housing or homeless shelters.

    • That much is understood. Its about the placement I guess. Either way, someone will be upset.

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