DC Homeless Shelter Plan Scrutinized at Public Hearing

People crowd Council chambers for hearing

The D.C. Council’s first and only public hearing on the mayor's plan to move homeless families to new shelters across the city drew scrutiny and a large crowd at the Wilson Building downtown Thursday.

In the crowded council chambers, Mayor Muriel Bowser pitched the ambitious plan to replace the old, rundown D.C. General Hospital shelter, which houses 250 families.

A planned Ward 5 shelter in a Northeast industrial area is getting the most pushback as no place for families. Ward 5 Council member Kenyan McDuffie cited details of a rough neighborhood.

“Surrounded by railroad tracks, nightclubs, a strip club, trash transfer stations, paint spray booths and medical marijuana facilities,” he said.

Some D.C. Council members have concerns about cost and safety.

Bowser brushed aside suggestions the long-term plan was too expensive and favored a few developers who support her.

“It’s clear and obvious and transparent,” she said. “We have put out all the information about the transactions, and we welcome any questions about it.”

Family service groups urged the city to not just build temporary shelters but help find permanent housing to stabilize families.

“Until we address the issue of affordable housing, there’s no place for these families to go from the shelters,” Edgewood/Brookland Family Support Executive Director Louvenia Williams said.

The hearing on the proposal is expected to last into the night. A vote is scheduled for early next month.

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