Streetcars vs. aid for the homeless
By Tom Howarth
D.C. Council member Harry Thomas Jr. (D-Ward.5) says the District has to look at its priorities because they are “mixed up” [“Spreading D.C.’s money around,” front page, June 6]. Is he right? During the recent budget battle, council Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D) recommended delaying a streetcar project in order to save social programs.
He got hammered by everyone from a Georgetown grad student to a congressman from Oregon. Delay our streetcar line — how dare they? Meanwhile, at the 801 East homeless shelter on the grounds of St. Elizabeths Hospital, there is one, count ’em, one case manager for the 380 homeless men who sleep there. If we at the Father McKenna Center have more than we can handle seeing 100 homeless men per weekday, how much more difficult must it be to serve the mental health needs of 380 men?
Streetcars are nice to have, but are they more important than the basic mental health needs of the homeless? Or is it that streetcars will serve people who matter, and the folks at 801 East don’t?
The writer is director of the Father McKenna Center.
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