Washington, D.C., opened its newest shelter for homeless families, the last in a system of shelters that replaced the old D.C. General shelter.
For the more than 10 years, D.C. General was home to thousands of homeless families.
Now the District has a network of smaller, more dignified housing developments for homeless families. There’s one family shelter in each ward.
The development at 14th and Clifton streets in Northwest opened Wednesday.
“Families want what we all want for our families,” D.C. Department of Human Services Director Laura Zeilinger said. “They want a safe place that is theirs where they can raise their children.”
The new family shelters help families transition into permanent housing. In 2016, there were 1,471 homeless families living in D.C. shelters. That number is down to 204.
Zeilinger’s agency is also working to administer COVID-19 vaccines to D.C.’s homeless population. So far, 115 members of the homeless community have received their first shot.
“Next week we will begin to go out to our congregant shelters,” she said. “We will also, in partnership with outreach, we will be providing vaccinations to people who are not regularly coming in to the shelter system.”
She said it’s important to vaccinate the homeless community because its members can’t socially distance.
“We’re all safer when people are vaccinated,” Zeilinger said.
The pandemic has claimed the lives of at least 24 homeless residents, and more than 460 have tested positive.