Friday, September 26, 2008

Franklin Has Been Shut Down/Protests and Other Actions and.....The facts

As many of you know and others are about to find out, Franklin shelter closed this morning. The men were put out for the last time. The moving crew was there by 8 AM taking out the dining tables. The men were more or less made to go to the 801 East Shelter. I received word from a former Franklin resident who just moved to CCNV that CCNV has now opened up another section so as to accommodate the Franklin residents. (I will need to stay at 801 East for at least a night, due to my things having been moved there. I might need someone to drive me and my things from 801 East to CCNV if they have room for me.)

There is a rally on the steps of the Wilson Building (at 1350 Pennsylvania Ave.) at 3:30 PM today, September 26th.

There is a sleep-out in Franklin Park (13th and K streets, NW) beginning at 5:30 PM today. A few tents will be provided. (I'm sorry that I can't be there, as I must track down my belongings as they are moved to 801 East.)

The teach-in at Franklin Park is still going to happen at 2 PM this Sunday, the 28th. It has NOT been cancelled.

There was supposed to be a planning meeting on Monday, the 29th. I'm not sure if that is still happening. Come on Sunday and find out.

Facts:

We need the DC Council to flex its muscle on October 1st. Fenty's time to sign or veto the bill will have expired on September 30th. We need the Council to MAKE him reopen Franklin and return its residents and put the furniture back. Then, MAKE him deliver the needed social services to the men, rather than hanging them out to dry. DC Council, show some strength. See below.....

The DC Government has projected a $131 million budget shortfall for the 2009 fist-cal year. They are clenching our money in their fists and making budget cuts so as to make ends meet. The poor are always the first to feel the impact of budget cuts and hard times.

The bill to keep Franklin open was passed by the Council on September 16th. The mayor has until Sept. 30th to sign or veto it. As of October 1st it goes into effect automatically, by default, if he fails to sign or veto it. If he does veto it, the Council will override his veto. It passed with a 12 to 1 vote. It requires the mayor to keep Franklin open as a 300-man shelter until he meets the various requirements which include housing 300 homeless men and proving that he has enough hypothermia shelter for the winter.

Clarence Carter and Dan Tangherlini testified on the 19th (the birthday of my deceased girlfriend) that they have no winter plan. DC law requires them to have a winter plan by Sept. 1st of each year. This makes closing Franklin unwise.

The mayor is misrepresenting the facts about shelter capacity to the general public. Until recently, there have been about 25 empty beds in the entire shelter system for single men per night. They all have been at the 801 East Shelter. (The Franklin closure might absorb them. Tonight will tell.) Nonetheless, there are hundreds of homeless who sleep in the streets for one reason or another. " The mayor who doesn't care" and his dishonest adsinistration tend to use the fact that there are vacancies in the system as a false indication that there are enough shelter beds. What they WON'T tell you is that there are hundreds who sleep outdoors so as to be near services that they use during the day. If the beds WERE full, there still wouldn't be sufficient shelter capacity for the winter. The Park and Rec buses that shuttle the men from 801 to downtown in the morning are slow and don't get people where they need to go in a timely manner.

It would be a good idea to have the men use 801 East so as to fill it to capacity. Then, the mayor couldn't use the lie about there being enough shelter space. All beds would be full and we'd STILL have unsheltered people.
While there is no law requiring DC Government to shelter people during warm weather (or during a thunderstorm or high winds), they MUST shelter people during a freeze when the temperature (including wind chill) is below 33 degrees F. The mayor wants to wait until an actual freeze to rush to create shelter space. That's crazy. When a freeze DOES occur, people will come out of the woodwork to find shelter (or die outside).

Franklin was due to close BY October 1st. Many thought that it would close ON October 1st. DC Government and the mayor got the notion to close it a few days early so as to avoid us occupying the building and demonstrating on the last day. What he DIDN'T anticipate was us organizing or increasing the size of a protest within a matter of hours. We got word around noon on the 25th that Franklin would close its doors on the 26th. Several people, myself included, sent mass e-mails and organized quickly. we held a rally that evening at 5 PM. (The rally had already been planned; but I believe that we more than doubled the number of participants due to increased the urgency of the situation.)How's that for starters, mayor? .....err, the mayor that doesn't care?

Eric Jonathan Sheptock www.streats.tv/shep.html 925 13th St., NW Washington, D.C. 20005-4005 http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/franklin/

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