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A Vigil For Franklin

At a time when Mayor Adrian Fenty continues to move residents out of the city's Franklin Shelter, leaders of the effort to keep the downtown facility open are holding a vigil tonight.

They say that most residents from that facility are being forced into the streets because other shelters are full. "There are only 75 people in this building. The problem is they are taking people from other shelters and putting them in housing while they are taking the beds from Franklin down and putting more people in the streets," said D'Juan Bean, president of the Committee to Save Franklin Shelter.

District officials started moving men into "permanent supportive housing" two weeks ago part of the city's "Housing First" initiative.

Bean said in the last two weeks they have removed about 150 beds while residents from the city's other emergency shelters are being moved into permanent housing. "They are just punishing the guys from Franklin because the other shelters are not under a deadline," he said.

Last Friday, city Administrator Dan Tangherlini told members of the D.C. Council's Committee on Human Services that the city was moving aggressively to deal with the city's chronically homeless. "I am happy that we are rushing. We have gone beyond plans to implementation," he said.

Peter Tucker, organizer for the Committee to Save Franklin said, only a fraction of the residents are getting permanent apartments. "They have narrowed the debate so much now until any person who comes to the shelter at night is being turned away," he said.

"A week ago the City Council passed legislation stating the the mayor couldn't close the shelter unless certain conditions have been met," Tucker said. "Even though none of the conditions have been met, the mayor has continued...and has accelerated his effort to close the shelter."

Hamil R. Harris

By Nikita R Stewart  |  September 23, 2008; 6:08 PM ET
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