D.C. may stop help­ing out-of-town home­less

12 per­cent seek­ing shel­ter not res­i­dents

The Washington Times Daily - - METRO - BY RYAN M. MCDERMOTT

Ad­vo­cates for the home­less want the D.C. Coun­cil to slow its con­sid­er­a­tion of an emer­gency may­oral pro­posal that would limit home­less ben­e­fits to only D.C. res­i­dents and make it eas­ier to turn away non­res­i­dents seek­ing shel­ter in the city.

In a joint let­ter Wed­nes­day to city law­mak­ers, the Wash­ing­ton Le­gal Clinic for the Home­less, Bread for the City, the Chil­dren’s Law Cen­ter and other ad­vo­cacy groups said they share Mayor Muriel Bowser’s goal of en­sur­ing shel­ter for D.C. res­i­dents. But they said the leg­is­la­tion should go through pub­lic hear­ings rather than be rushed through the coun­cil.

“There is no emer­gency that sup­ports mov­ing for­ward such a po­ten­tially prob­lem­atic bill with no com­mu­nity in­put,” the groups wrote. “While we ap­pre­ci­ate the agency’s con­cern about spend­ing dol­lars wisely, and sup­port such ef­forts, there has been no data pro­vided to sup­port a claim that these pro­vi­sions would lower costs.”

Miss Bowser touted the mea­sure Tues­day at a mayor-coun­cil break­fast.

With its right-to-shel­ter law and emer­gency hous­ing plans, the District has be­come a haven for the home­less, with some ven­tur­ing from far afield to reap the ben­e­fits the city freely of­fers.

Re­cent stud­ies show that home­less­ness is up in the District and down in its sub­urbs, and the D.C. Depart­ment of Hu­man Ser­vices notes that 12 per­cent of fam­i­lies seek­ing shel­ter in Wash­ing­ton are not city res­i­dents.

“We have an obli­ga­tion to serve our res­i­dents. But we can­not serve the en­tire re­gion. We’re serv­ing ev­ery­body else’s res­i­dents,” Miss Bowser said at the break­fast Tues­day. “Our own res­i­dents are stand­ing at the back of the line.”

Statis­tics from a Met­ro­pol­i­tan Wash­ing­ton Coun­cil of Gov­ern­ments re­port in May are telling. Be­tween 2007 and 2013 the to­tal num­ber of home­less peo­ple rose by 14 per­cent in the District. The city pro­vides 682 beds for home­less sin­gles and 405 fam­ily units with a to­tal of 1,312 beds. Emer­gency shel­ters of­fer 2,256 sin­gle beds and 406 fam­ily units with a to­tal of 1,295 beds. Tran­si­tional hous­ing fa­cil­i­ties have 950 sin­gle beds and 428 fam­ily units with a to­tal of 1,190 beds. But in the sub­urbs, to­tal home­less­ness fell by:

● 13 per­cent in Prince Ge­orge’s County, which of­fers 337 year-round beds for fam­i­lies, 153 year-round beds for sin­gles and 68 beds specif­i­cally dur­ing win­ter months.

● 11 per­cent in Mont­gomery County, which has 556 beds for sin­gles, 417 beds for fam­i­lies year-round and 354 beds for the win­ter.

● 12 per­cent in Fair­fax County, which pro­vides 424 year-round in­di­vid­ual beds, 762 beds for fam­i­lies and 245 beds ex­clu­sively for win­ter use.

● 24 per­cent in Ar­ling­ton County, which of­fers 117 beds for in­di­vid­u­als, 88 beds for fam­i­lies and 25 set aside for win­ter.

Ac­cord­ing to D.C. Hu­man Ser­vices Direc­tor Laura Zeilinger, the District has to spend about $80,000 a night on mo­tel rooms for home­less fam­i­lies be­cause its shel­ters are full.

At Tues­day’s break­fast, coun­cil mem­ber Jack Evans said it is fis­cally ir­re­spon­si­ble for the city to shoul­der the home­less bur­den for the whole re­gion.

“Con­ser­va­tives get ac­cused every day of be­ing racist and sex­ist and ho­mo­pho­bic with­out any proof of that. But here’s a guy who reg­u­larly ex­pressed all of those sen­ti­ments in his Twit­ter feed.”

— Vir­ginia Del­e­gate C. Todd Gil­bert, Page Repub­li­can, on a Char­lottesville City Coun­cil mem­ber who is un­der fire for crude tweets he made years ago that dis­par­aged white peo­ple

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