Groundbreaking at Old Gales School, To Become Central Union Mission

by Prince Of Petworth May 7, 2012 at 10:04 pm 54 Comments

65 Massachusetts Avenue, NW

Council Member Jim Graham tweeted yesterday:

I am at the groundbreaking for the Central Union Mission. We are at the old Gales school at 65 Massachusetts Avenue.

Central Union Mission is the city’s oldest non-profit providing these types of shelter services to the homeless.

$12 million will be invested in Gales School. The money is from private sources. This will be a new home for the Central Union Mission.

No government money will be used in the renovation or operation of the old Gales School for the Central Union Mission.

The city will, however, lease the building to the Central Union Mission for $1 a year.

Central Union Mission is currently located in Logan Circle at the corner of 14th and R St, NW (1350 R Street, NW.)

They share renderings of the new location:

  • bittercapsfan

    Simultaneously a victory for the homeless, Petworth Nimby’s, people who don’t grasp the concept of separation of church and state, and people like Jim Graham who don’t grasp the concept of opportunity cost. At best, a mixed bag.

    • Denizen of Tenallytown

      True. We can all agree this should have been converted to DC’s Eataly location, or failing that, luxury lofts at the very least.

      • Anonymous

        That is why they got kicked off 14th Street. Can’t have it all…

        • W

          To be clear…they weren’t kicked out. They owned the 14th street location, but decided to sell it because the cost of maintenance was too high for the aging building. The proceeds from the sale will go into the renovation of the Gales School, in exchange for a long term, inexpensive lease for the building from the city.

    • anon

      How is this related to Petworth… was a site in Petworth being considered?

      • Anonymous

        I believe Jim Graham wanted to push it off to Petworth, and there was enormous opposition because it was a terrible location. Graham made a lot of enemies in this town because of this.

        • jcm

          You’ve got that totally backwards. It was never going to be in Petworth – it was going to be in Park View. They wanted to move to Georgia Ave in Ward 1, and actually bought a property there. Graham got them a half million dollar tax break in exchange for them selling that property to the Park Morton redevelopers and moving to Gales instead.

      • Prince Of Petworth
  • Anon X

    There is a massive shelter at 2nd and D… Not far from here. How does this augment our city’s ability to help the homeless. If they are currently unserved, adding a facility up the street from an active one doesn’t exactly increase the service area much.

    • sb

      true, but if there are a lot of homeless people in this area who are currently unserved (and, given the closure of the shelter by McPherson Square, I think there are probably a lot of homeless folks downtown) it can help. Also, it allows people at both shelters to use services like clinics that are nearby.

  • cherfirzo

    Matthew 25:35 ‘For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; 36naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ 37“Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? 38‘And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? 39‘When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40“The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’

    • Bloomingdude

      Verily I say unto you, “WTF? Are we now in Mississippi and using Bible quotes to justify policy decisions?”

    • anon

      Having seen a homeless bum on a 70 bus smear his whole self with his own feces, right in front of kids, verify I say unto you, if the churches are going to bring this sort of thing into my neighborhood they should pay-eth property taxes like unto the rest of us.

      • So you’re saying if a church opens a charity you don’t approve of in your neighborhood, they should lose their tax exempt status? Now I’m as uncomfortable as many are with the city financially helping a religious organization, but your post is inching toward “myopic twit” territory.

        • Actually, what Matthew says is that we are supposed to clothe, feed and house the homeless….ourselves. We are not supposed to pass the buck and ask the city to do it. If you see someone who needs shelter, take them into your own home or get them shelter. If you see someone who is hungry, buy them some food. If you see someone who is cold, give them your coat. Don’t pass the buck to a charity or to the state.

  • Anonymous

    What is going to happen to the 14th and R site?

    • Ust

      They are turning into into a place that serves American brunch tapas. Like little waffles, tiny omelets, miniature french toast. They will also have $12 signature Bloody Mary’s or East Marseille style home fries for $11 ($15 with truffle mayo).

      • Anon X

        Great, so glad that we’re further consolidating social services. Maybe there wont be ANY homeless people in view of a new brunch place if we just move all the shelters east of the river where they belong, right? Thats whats going to happen eventually.

        social services should be evenly distributed in the city. Georgetown, Tenleytown, U Street, Petworth, and everywhere else.

        • Todd

          No, I don’t feel my higher property costs/taxes should require me to live with the poor.

          DC has an absurd amount of money being pumped into inefficient gov’t housing, etc.. like this that have never worked.

          And you simply demonize those who make money and don’t like putting up with crime and violence, in the name of political correctness and fairness…

          /enjoy your low hanging fruit, friendo.

          • Anon X

            See, thats where youre wrong. Making a lot of money doesnt entitle you to shit. It means you have more money, not more rights.

        • Good luck with that.

        • Greedy Homeless Shelter

          Central Union Mission is not a government homeless facility. That organization chose to sell their location on 14th for the money. They chose to move to a different location. This ominous “we” who is moving the homeless shelters east is simple economics and the desire of the organizations to make money and move to cheaper locations in order to have more funding to serve. It is not some secret, master plan.

      • You’re kidding right? Please tell me you’re kidding.

  • Dcer

    Because riding the 80 to and from work isn’t enough of an urban combat experience…

    • Un

      Well it’s not someone’s fault that they just filled their Smart Trip card up yesterday, it doesn’t work, and they smell like Steel Reserve. That is Metro’s fault, they had money on their card because they said so!! This is such a common problem on certain routes they should get the machines checked.

  • Todd

    Great, because it’s such an ejoyable experience walking through that area after work…”hey (insert explicative here) you got any change or a cigarette?”

    Call me cold, but these shelters simply subsidize more failure and lethargy, at least move it to an area away from the mall, and away from the tourists (the only reason our city isnt’ Detroit). That area’d be so nice if they’d move those shelters further up into NE.

    /realize I’ll back attacked for this, dont’ care. This shelterss haven’t chaged the poverty rate in D.

    • Anon X

      How about, instead of in NE, we just put them where you live. Where is that again?

      • Todd

        Save your bleeding heart nonsense for someone else.

        sorry I hold humans to a higher standard than you. And I don’t like being harrassed when I’m paying for someone’s existence.

        /They (you) luckily can’t afford my ‘hood.

        • Anon X

          Todd, you are a pig headed small minded fool.

          You have no idea where I can afford to live.

          Similarly, I dont know if you’re living pay check to pay check to rent some 1500/month studio. Maybe you’re not saving. Maybe you’re one HR decision away from being in public housing. I suspect you’re probably closer to homelessness than you are to being the Vanderbilt that you pretend to be.

          • Prince Of Petworth

            Children behave or I’m gonna turn this car around.

        • Anonymous

          You’re right, I probably can’t afford your part of Loudoun County.

      • Ha ha. Good one.

  • It makes a lot more sense in this neighborhood (the purpose and character of which won’t be materially changed by this addition, and where there is also already a fairly large homeless population congregating, generally) than on Georgia Avenue, where an enormous homeless shelter could have tilted the balance of a neighborhood already teertering on the brink and teeming with long-standing crime and substance abuse / dealing issues, which only would have been compounded by the shelter’s addition.

    • +1.

    • NIMBYism is alive and well all over the city! Only, when a gentrifier says it, it’s sound urban planning/policy.

      • Bloomingdude

        For me, the term NIMBY has lost any meaning cause it’s been so overused. I don’t know anyone of any race, religion or class who wants everything and anything around them.

        A home purchase is the largest economic investment most people will make, and unless you’re rich, you need to do well with this investment in the long run, particularly since pensions have gone away.

        It’s wrong to attack a homeowner for not wanting a homeless shelter near their investment. One can be very supportive of social services and paying taxes to support them while also wanting to protect their own economic well being.

        • I agree with you. But when people in Cleveland Park do that they’re vilified as stodgy, out of touch rich folk, and when people in Petworth protest they’re just protecting their investment. As though homes in Upper NW aren’t serious investments to be protected.

          • classic_six

            You make an interesting observation there – that those say in CP, Dupont, U Street, Logan, Georgetown, Upper NW cry “not in my backyard” they are called NIMBY’s (in the worst sense) but no one is saying that here, when really the same purpose of result is the same. Why the double standard?

          • Bloomingdude

            I suspect that it’s not so much “Cleveland Park” vs “Petworth” as it is homeowners versus non homeowners. It’s easy to support something that would devalue an investment when you’re not invested in it. In other words, I suspect that the vast majority of people who support a homeless shelter in a particular location don’t own a property near that location. They may live/rent there, but they don’t own there — despite what some may claim.

          • Anonymous

            I think when a resident of an area that already has several social services establishments saying no more wouldn’t be quite the same as a resident from an area that has none so not one at all. It’s not NIMBYism if there is one already in the backyard.

          • Marcus Aurelius

            I think you need to compare apples to apples. There is a qualitative difference between a neighborhood not wanting a homeless shelter (or in the case of Park View, a large homeless shelter to go with the numerous group homes and social service providers that are already in the area) and a neighborhood not wanting particular kinds of entertainment and/or retail to move in. I am not aware of any proposal to put a homeless shelter in Cleveland Park. I highly doubt anyone would ever make or consider such a proposal. Yes, desire to protect one’s economic interest is a factor in the resistance generated in both cases. But the resistance to entertainment and/or retail development is much more motivated by concerns about overcrowding and density, since the addition of entertainment and retail options generally raises property values.

          • classic_six

            To Bloomingdude,

            I’m a little confused by your response, though. Are you implying that there are more homeowners in the Petworth/Park View areas as opposed to some of the other neighborhoods where when residents complain “Not in My Backyard” that those neighborhoods have fewer homeowners? Although I get your point that those who rent are less vested.

          • To Marcus Aurelius:

            You’re right and I didn’t really clarify that in my post. Social services and retail certainly are different. I was thinking of situation where mixed income housing or a shelter or whatnot would be proposed for a place like Cleveland Park. The neighbors would freak out, but their reaction would be portrayed in a far darker light. Don’t get me wrong, I think a neighborhood can have too many social services (ask Historic Anacisria). But I don’t buy the argument that because a neighborhood has other negatives like crime it should not be a site for a shelter. When it all comes down to it, most homeowners’ want to protect teir asset.

          • Bloomingdude


            I’m not implying anything about one area having more homeowners than another. I’m saying that I believe that people who oppose a homeless shelter near them (NIMBYs) should not be assumed to be cold-hearted or against help for the poor. It is not wrong for a homeowner to want to protect his or her investment. Too many people assume that a homeowner/NIMBY comes from wealth (Yuppie Hipster!) and is simply greedy. Detractors never imagine that a NIMBY worked his or her way up and must protect his or her investment, because they have no others and may have dependents (children, parents) they are supporting.

            I would wager that the vast majority of people (if there are any) who want a homeless shelter near them don’t actually own the place where they live.

            On a related note, I can completely understand why people in areas robust with social service organizations would oppose having even more of them.

          • Anon X

            The Heights: Stop making strawmen argument.

            The truth is, no neighborhood wants a social service like a methadone clinic, homelesss shelter or soup kitchen. Everyone protests it. But its the neighborhoods that have more political clout that always win out and so less wealthy areas and less connected areas always get a higher concentration.

            Then people like Todd come around and believe that because they live in a nice neighborhood they’re entitled to never see a homeless person.

          • classic_six

            To Bloomingdude,

            Re: your 3:49 post – I get what you are saying and for the most part I agree with you. I think my confusion from your earlier post was that the division was by neighborhood (CP v. Petworth) as opposed to homeowner v. renter (non-homeowner), which is where I think the divide in this issue really stands. I still do tend to agree that there is a pejorative slant, though, when people talk about the NIMBY’s from CP, Dupont, Georgetown, etc. because people assume that the people who live there are wealthy or yuppie or hipster or whatever. (Please don’t get on my case for using those terms because I don’t use those terms in the real world.) If you are a homeowner or someone with a vested interest – either from CP or from Petworth, I make no assumptions about your financial value or how you got there. If you are a homeowner from either neighborhood, of course you want to protect your investment, that makes a lot of sense.

          • Anon X,

            1. I’m not Todd. If you have a problem, take it up with him.

            2. You can begrudge wealthier neighborhoods for having more clout, but that’s reality. I’m just pointing out the common hypocrisy of calling some people NIMBY’s and others “concerned homeowners.”

          • Anon X

            Incorrect. You were saying that the reason that there is some double standard about classifying NIMBYs. Thats a strawman argument. I dont see anyone “begrudging rich folks”. The truth about the term NIMBY is that every community, rich or poor, has NIMBY tendencies when it comes to social services.

            However, the other truth is that the rich communities are able to actually succeed.

            I also dont agree with statements such as “It’s wrong to attack a homeowner for not wanting a homeless shelter near their investment.” Its not wrong, a homeless shelter has to go somewhere, or alternatively, there will be homeless people somewhere… you cant box them up and send them to China. So, people need to suck it up and find a way to make a common-sense distribution of them and make sure they’re well functioning.

          • Marcus Aurelius

            theheights: I’m not sure how far back the PoP archives go but if you can go back to the numerous threads that popped up when Central Union Mission first announced the move to Georgia Ave, you’ll see that the negative reactions that many people had to the move were portrayed in a pretty dark light. Granted there probably wasn’t as much of a race angle to it as one might suspect (perhaps wrongly) would be present in an analysis of a Cleveland Park listserv screed against a homeless shelter. But the discussions were pretty heated.
            The fact that a neighborhood has crime should not necessarily preclude the placement of a homeless shelter in the neighborhood. But it should not be assumed that because a neighborhood has crime already, adding a homeless shelter won’t have any appreciable negative impact – i.e., “That neighborhood already sucks. Let’s stick the homeless there.” And a neighborhood with a crime problem may not be the best environment for homeless people, particularly with respect to a shelter like Central Union which, as I understand it, forces it’s residents to leave each morning for the day.

  • frickorfrack

    I do not support additional homeless shelters “further into NE”.
    Loud and Proud… “Not in my backyard!”

  • ClevelandDave

    Too bad. That could be a signature building that is right at the entrance of what many people see when they come into the city. And for all the hullabaloo about how it didn’t take any city money to make this happen it is in fact hugely subsidized: $1 year for a property worth many millions that is also taken off the tax rolls for decades- shame. We need the mission and it does good work but it should be in a less prominent location not along a major thoroughfare.

  • I, for one, am happy they are moving it down there. I hate that part of town. Everyone who lives there stays in stupid high-rise cookie cutter apartments anyway, so they shouldn’t worry about having to mix with the homeless. They don’t even mix with each other/haven’t ever spoken to their neighbors who also work at Booze Allen and are stupid.

    • frickorfrack

      ++1…it is pretty soulless in that stretch.

      the homeless can hang out in Union Station though…making it stink like a urinal. Just like every other great city around the world.

    • High-rise cookie-cutter

      Ah, that’s nice! Do us a favor and don’t EVER bring your bitter arse to our cookie-cutter neighborhood. One of our high-rises may fall down on you!


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