Muriel Bowser

DC Mayor Wants to Turn Away Homeless From Other States

District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser wants to make it easier to deny shelter to homeless people who don't live in the District. 

Bowser proposed emergency legislation on Tuesday that would allow the city to turn people away if their last place of residence can't be verified. 

The District guarantees shelter to homeless people on freezing nights, and the homeless population has increased over the past few years. Last year the mayor opened the shelters year round, guaranteeing families can get off the street even when the temperature is above freezing.

The city's main homeless shelter is full, and the city is currently spending $80,000 a night on hotel rooms for families who have nowhere else to stay.

The Democratic mayor says the city can't verify residency for 12 percent of people seeking shelter. She says emergency housing should be reserved for District residents who face true emergencies.

"Our focus has to be on providing benefits to D.C. residents, and asking the taxpayers of Washington, D.C., to support residents of Maryland and Virginia is beyond the pale," she said.

Some people applying for housing in D.C. are eligible for benefits in other jurisdictions but find it easier to take advantage of the District's housing programs, Bowser said.


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"What the system has evolved into is kind of a waiting place for anybody who is, and I mean anybody from around the region, that is seeking affordable housing," she said.

Bowser also plans to clear out homeless tent encampments, just as she did last year.

Bowser's proposal must be approved by the D.C. Council.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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