Lawsuit Seeks Chance for Input Into D.C. Ward 3 Homeless Shelter

A group of 21 D.C. residents have filed a lawsuit, seeking to stop the building of a homeless shelter in northwest Washington until they are allowed input on the location, according to court papers.

The suit, filed Tuesday in the civil division of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, said D.C. leaders violated the law by not notifying the community of the location for a planned homeless shelter. D.C. council approved a plan to locate a 50-bed shelter in the parking lot of the Metropolitan Police Department’s 2nd District Station.

The legal filing claimed part of the 2016 Homeless Shelter Replacement Act, passed by the D.C. Council and signed by Mayor Muriel Bowser, violates what is known as the District of Columbia ANC (Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners) Act. The group wants the court to issue a permanent injunction against any progress on the homeless shelter until the area’s Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners can offer input to the plan.

"What we are going to court with is not to ask the court to substitute its judgment for that of the council in choosing this site," said plaintiffs' attorney David Brown. "But to go back to the drawing board and give the ANC an opportunity to presents its issues and concerns."

The Homeless Shelter Replacement Act is part of an effort to replace the problem-plagued D.C General Family Shelter by putting smaller facilities in each ward. In May, the focus changed from putting the shelters on private property to placing them on city-owned land, like the 2nd District police station.

In a statement to News4, Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh said ANCs are required have input in D.C. zoning changes, but those changes haven't been requested, yet.

"Once the application for zoning relief is made, the ANC will be asked to provide its view," Cheh said.

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