Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Contract Dispute Between DC Government and the CCNV Homeless Shelter

I've previously informed a few people about a contract dispute between DC Government and the CCNV homeless shelter. I've put them on alert and had them waiting since about February 2nd for further news on the issue. As it turns out, the dispute is ongoing 3 and a half months later. I'll give you a brief description of the matter and let you decide what you think:

On February 2nd, 2009, DC Government contacted the CCNV Homeless Shelter as well as the 4 other entities that are in the same building with the yearly contract. However there were a couple of stark differences from the contractual arrangements of previous years. In the past, CCNV, the John L. Young and Open Door Women's shelters, DC Central Kitchen and Unity Health Care signed one joint contract. This year they've been given separate contracts (a possible "divide and conquer" tactic) Furthermore, each contract has a clause which states that DC Government may remove that entity from the building "at will and without cause". This, of course, is a very damaging clause. I know that CCNV has refused to sign the contract. I believe the others have refused also. The director of CCNV has gotten a lawyer on the case.

Rumors are circulating saying that the building has already been sold to Georgetown U. I received a message from the director stating that it hasn't been sold. However, rumors often have a bit of truth to them.

The fact of the matter is that Georgetown Law School, which is in the next city block, has the right of first refusal. This means that, were the building to be sold, Georgetown Law School would be asked if they want to purchase it on a no-bid basis. If they don't want it, then the bidding would begin.

The mayor made it a point to close Franklin School Shelter so that he could sell the building, with that building only being worth about $12 million. The building often referred to as "2nd and D" is worth over $100 million. What's to make me think that the mayor doesn't have his sights set on that building also? It would be a real money-maker for the city and help to close the budget shortfall, at the expense of DC's homeless and underprivileged.

Let's also bear in mind that the city gave CCNV $7 million to renovate. That wasn't enough; so, they gave another $7 million. The renovation still wasn't complete; but, this time they refused to give any more money. Parts of the building are still in need of repair. The city is like the builder mentioned by Christ who failed to count the cost of the project and was mocked because of his half-built structure. The huge sign announcing the renovation still stands in front of the building, even though no renovation is presently under way.

People are often scared to report needed repairs; because, Mayor Fenty has developed a pattern of closing shelters whenever people complain about bad conditions which often include a need for more building maintenance. He did this with Franklin School Shelter and with the DC Village Family Shelter. One would hope that the city would fix the building rather than shutting down another shelter.

You must remember that the shelter is only a stone's throw away from Capitol Hill. And the Gospel Rescue Mission is only a stone's throw away from CCNV. My guess is that the plans to move the Central Union Mission to Gales School at 65 Mass. Ave., NW got nixed, in part, due to the fact that it would have increased the "homeless density" around Capitol Hill. Just a thought. (I was one of those who was opposed to C.U.M. moving to Gales School, though for much different reasons.)

As a final thought, we've lost our lawsuit against Fenty in DC Superior Court for closing Franklin School Shelter. The case is now in Federal Court. The court case, in a big way, is about how the mayor treats the homeless community. Were he to even try to close the shelters at "2nd and D" (which are often referred to collectively as CCNV), he'd have the fight of his life on his hands. First of all, it would serve to show a pattern of discrimination against the homeless, which would play right into the court case. Secondly, the crowd at CCNV has already let me know that they would fight the mayor's decision if he were to try to close that shelter. That's not to speak of the fact that CCNV was established as a shelter only after Mitch Snyder and many homeless people fought the Reagan administration for that building. Here we go again.

"Don't ever think that a small group of committed individuals is incapable of changing the world. That's the only thing that ever has."

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