Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Save the Shelters!

The Post reported that DC Council member Jim Graham suggested shutting down both the DC General homeless shelter (with 300 families) and the CCNV shelter with (with more than 1,000 single adults). Shutting down any homeless shelter will not make anything better for these people. A much better path is to speed up the process of building affordable housing, which is going so very slowly, and to do the necessary repairs of the shelters while keeping them open. Of course, one can dream about opening all the DC hotels to the homeless shelter residents. Is that option being offered? Are there some alternative places in DC where these 2,000 people will be housed?

I made similar warnings about similar suggestions before: "Warning: Save the Shelter and the People" and "Warning: Save the Shelter and the People (II)." Yes, the situation is terrible in the shelters, but being without shelter is worse. So many times, politicians use criticisms of the shelters or public housing as justification to eradicate the shelters and public housing, making the situation worse.

Also, CCNV is a very unique shelter. The topic of a future post!


  1. Johanna,

    I found your blog in Diana Pillsbury's Twitter feed. I know Diana from my photography project called "The Invisible Ones of DC"

    Well written and so very true. I've been to meetings and events listening to Jim Graham and other Admin types talk about affordable housing. The question they never answer is what does affordable mean to someone sleeping on the street?

    The task force meetings at the CCNV are really a sham. The fact that Douglas Jemal is even at the table speaks volumes about the real plans for the CCNV property.

    Take Care

    1. Thanks for letting me know about the CCNV task force reality, including Douglas Jemal being on it. Even worse than I thought!

  2. I see eric sheptock (who i met many times, and i even knew some original ccnv people since i happen to have grown up in dc) has some response on youtube which i may glance at. the fact doug jemal is still around makes me feel as sad as hearing about another shooting.

    the idea of opening hotels to the homeless is a sort of good or interesting idea---but the homeless often have the same issues as 'rockstars' and rockbands when they stay in hotels---they trash the place, so either it will be unsuitable for shelter and the homeless issue begins again, or else one has to have a huge budget to fix up the place periodically. (I sortuh have an indication of this----i used to ''couch surf' meaning i stayed with various people in exchange for doing chores of various kinds; one version involed patching holes in the wall and fixing furniture when the people putting me up had arguments and broke a whole lot of stuff and threw stuff so it broke the wall---and then i'd have to get to work before the landlord showed up ).

    of course some argue that 'people get what they deserve' (from libertarian/capitalist ideology ---we're 'free to choose', and of course from religious ideology---most recently i've heard this from christians and hindus---its fate). Others like Jemal or the world cup (brazil) and National Stadium and Walmart types will say turning CCNV into luxury condos will help the poor by increasing the tax base.

    Another idea is 'culture change'. I knew some homeless advocates who, when you visited their house, turned out to be big and nice and occupied by 1 or very few people. Their are also 'empty nesters' and 'singles' who live in big places with plenty of space (i actually could have a couple people in my apartment). The problem with this is that people differ (i've had people in my place and in short order my lifestyle (including physical and mental health) is destroyed because they take over the place and seek to indoctrinate you into their lifestyle---and sometimes feel this is deserved because they are poor, so its a form of redistributing power. (they tended to be into sex harassment,. dope, bad pop media (unlike me who is into high culture like gogo music, gangsta rap, hc punk, etc.) .

    from this view, as many have said the issue is not lack of resources but allocation of resources ('the problem is a confusion of ends, not a lack of means').

    I pretty much see the 'homeless problem' as just one example of a general problem. Even say, Busboys and poets thinks the way to help everyone 'rise up' is to make them a restaurant and cook for them and employ them. I tend to think its possible could spend a few years cooking for themselves or sharing duties , whether they are upscale college students or elites, or homeless people. But of course the service industries (Lockheed Martin, NRA, public school teachers and university professors, cab drivers , uber and their lawyers) need hotel rooms and restaruants while attending conferences . Plus it always feels good to give a quarter or 5$ to a beggar---and besides then they may not become taxpayer liabilities when they go hit someone over the head and then require homeless shelter in prison (but those generate different service jobs too in construction and security). Half a nice day-----it usually is not 90 in june in dc, that usually is reserved for august.


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