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Barry Challenges Fenty, Calls for Downtown Shelter for Homeless

D.C.Councilmember Marion Barry will introduce emergency legislation today that calls for the Mayor Adrian M. Fenty to make sure there are beds for the homeless in the downtown business area.

The bill is in response to the recent controversial closing of the Franklin Shelter at 13th and K streets NW. The mayor has announced an ambitious plan to provide permanent housing for the District's homeless. Critics of the closing, however, have said the mayor can't provide apartments for the homeless without making sure that proper support services are available, be it mental health treatment or job counseling. The council passed legislation recently calling on the mayor to provide more details about his plan.

Barry is introducing the "Downtown Shelter Bed Emergency Act of 2008," which calls for the mayor to operate a 150-bed low barrier emergency shelter in the downtown area. The bill even proposes boundaries: south of Q Street NW, North of Pennsylvania Avenue, West of Ninth Street and East of 17th Street.

Barry introduced the bill literally from a hospital bed, where he is recovering from a fall.

Hamil R. Harris

By Hamil Harris  |  October 7, 2008; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  D.C. Council , The Homeless  
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The Mayor plans to offer permanent housing for some of the cities homeless identified by using a vulnerability index. Those kicked out of the Franklin Shelter are not neccessarily the same folks who will be assigned permanent housing. The Mayor and others should not imply that the permanent housing and those on the street because of the Franklin closing are the same population.

Posted by: watching | October 7, 2008 9:09 AM | Report abuse

This is just a bad idea! I agree that its a good idea to help the homeless, but why allow them to have shelter downtown? Lets face it, many of these homeless people have mental health issues, and their presence is not good for safety, it is not good for business, it is not good for tourism! Allow them to have free shelter in a part of town that is not so conjested and not downtown where tourists and business people work! The reason they want to be downtown is so they can over-agressively panhandle and beg money from tourists and professionals that work in the offices. I have had homeless people approach my car at an intersection downtown, and almost demand that I hand over change. They walk up to your window, knock on the glass, stare at you, and curse you out if you do not hand over money! I do not want to encourage more to saturate the area!

Posted by: Hard Working American | October 7, 2008 9:15 AM | Report abuse

I agree with Barry on this. Its ridiculous to believe that you can place anyone into a permanent home, when most these people have no employment, mentally disabled and several issues. This people need at least a transitional place until that gets in place. Hell I work everyday and more and I cant just find somewhere to live just like that. The reality is that the economy is not getting any better if anything its getting worse. And true placing the shelter downtown may not be a good thing but something has to be done. Fenty has really been a disappointment. He made all this promises that he was for the people and all he has done is alienated the people. He is young and insentitive and thats whats going to be his down fall. He needs to stop wasting money and selling dc to the highest bidder on condos that no one can afford and start using tax payers money on real issues and real people.

Posted by: msruby45 | October 7, 2008 9:30 AM | Report abuse

I understand the concern and safety of being around homelessness people, what you missing is that not all homeless people are the same. Their different situation regarding being homeless (1) people who lost their jobs & can't afford the high cost of rent that continue going up (2) there are sick people who afford medical care (3)there are people who wants another chance but can't get it because of the way they look. The homeless threats are no worser than those undersible who rob or take people live for their hard earn pay. Think if this happens to you, what would you want. Just do what you have to do but make sure there staff, good medical, security and classes to help people get back on their feet. People always bring others down but when it happens to you that's a different story. Think about it.

Posted by: CLC Being Concern | October 7, 2008 9:49 AM | Report abuse

who really wants more homeless people downtown. they don't benefit society. its time we stop pandering to the do nothings.

Posted by: ridiculouz proposals | October 7, 2008 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Hard Working American - apparently you've never volunteered at a homeless shelter or you would already know that the homeless in DC too are hard working americans with families. Downtown is as good a location as any other in DC. My guess is that you aren't even a DC resident!

Posted by: tyler | October 7, 2008 10:35 AM | Report abuse

The mayor's new program is a great idea. It is being modeled after programs in other cities where it has worked. The homeless individuals who recieve a voucher will be connected to an agency that is funded through the government to run the program. They will have access to all supportive services including mental health and job assistance. It is a great idea to get rid of the number one stressor which is shelter to assist people in getting back on their feet. Have you ever tried to get a job and start supporting yourself while living on the street or in a shelter nearly impossible.

Posted by: cabeach | October 7, 2008 12:37 PM | Report abuse

It's ridiculous that I can't go to McDonalds and not have someone begging for money on every single block and right outside the door. We don't need a homeless shelter 3 blocks from the white house... it hasn't worked. They don't care. I would suggest to Marion Barry that he consider other ways that people can get money rather than begging (and no, I don't count Street Sense as begging)

Posted by: Mike_G | October 7, 2008 1:07 PM | Report abuse


Panhadling is ILLEAGEL in DC.
They are only downtown to panhandel
Barry is guilty of assisting in a crime.

Posted by: JohninDC | October 7, 2008 1:16 PM | Report abuse

I am a participent of the Mayor's Homeless Housing Program. I rented 2 apartments to 2 progam recipients. They were both assigned case workers who assist them with their mental and personal issues. The apartments I own are in Trinidad. The negative publicity about Trinidad has prevented me from renting the newly renovated units for the past six months. The loss income left the responsibility of the mortgage solely on me. Mayor Fenty's program provided a means to an end for me. I gave my new tenants a television and other small items for them to be comfortable. Their case workers issued them Target gift cards for personal items, and within a few days, their furniture arrived. Both Men appear to be extremely happy and appreciative of the opportunity provided them for a second chance. The Franklin building is a beautiful and valuable piece of real estate. It should not be used for a homeless shelter. Before being critical of Mayor Fenty's attempt to implement CHANGE to a system that is not working, Give the Man a CHANCE.

Posted by: DC Citizen | October 7, 2008 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Tyler -- I was born and raised in Washington DC. My family has been in Washington DC for the last 100+ years. My grandfather not only lived in DC but owned a DC business. My father moved out to Northern Virginia, and took me with him when I was a kid, but I have returned to DC as an adult. I have spent more than 50% of my life in Washington DC, and when I was a kid in Viriginia, it was just across the river and not far away. I have always worked in Washington DC for over 22 years now. I see homeless people in Washington DC everyday. I ride Metro and I see them at the bottom of the escalators begging, at the top of the escalators begging, along my short walk to my building begging. When I drive my car, they walk up to the window begging. I have been approached by a number of very aggressive and hostile homeless, begging for money. I tried to park my car by China Town recently and had a homeless person charge me a $5 to watch my car, (apparently from himself or probably my windows would have been broken out)! Same thing happened in Adams Morgan on 18th street. A homeless guy came out and cleaned my windshield, I gave him a dollar, and then he said, I can watch your car for you for more money! I said no thanks, and he said, shame if something happened! I ended up moving my car to a space 6 blocks away, being paranoid that he would damage my car!

Posted by: Hard Working American | October 7, 2008 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Marion is the man! Marion Barry for mayor and bring back the good old days!

Posted by: checkered.1 | October 7, 2008 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Oh GOD is so dfficult to analyze the issues of the poverty , the homeles situations .You people had the right to argue that way, because many of those peolpe called as "homeless", had been choosen this way of life , but in the midst of them they are thousand who are with mentally issues as you well knew, others are war-veteran or people who losing their jobs are threw away for their own families and so on .
I totally agreed with you if you wanted to search between them ,about who can be dangerous to others people, who from the stand point of shameless became beggar or if someone else really is a lazy etc, then you can separate to those who just are trouble makers and give attention to those who needed your help.
AMERICAN all of you SHALL BE GIVEN THANK TO GOD , if I could showed you how in my country those little ones are searching into garbage collectors or by a big garbage deposited area for an small piece of harded bread , maybe You´ll be ashamed...No , no anyway I´m not saying that this situation is your fall not at all is not your,but is the entire society fallen matter . I had been in your country many time and I´m a simple worker and like here as in my own country ,I never could say "no" to someone else who stretched his hand at me asking for change money ,it is doesn´t mean that alway I could do, some time I also I had had asked for money change for my bus- ticket , and is true as you said , many time they acting in very bad behavior , but for my luck never were with me , just in your place or in my own place.
My friend don´t be proud nothing is really our, is from God.

Posted by: pedroibarrola | October 12, 2008 12:46 PM | Report abuse

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