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Showing posts from May, 2010

Spurned By HUD

On Tuesday, May 18th 2010, I was walking through Capitol Hill on my way to the Library of Congress when a woman who recognized me called me over. Being a fellow-activist, she invited me to attend a hearing at the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) which was to take place the very next day. I told her that I would be going to a rally with "Save Our Safety Net!" which would take place outside of the Wilson Building (City Hall) at about the same time and therefore couldn't attend the HUD hearing. She insisted and prevailed. However, I would eventually find my very first visit to the offices of HUD to be quite unwelcoming.

I arrived a few minutes before the 9:30 start time. I was directed to the security desk so that the guard could see if my name was on the roster. With it being my first time attending a hearing in a federal agency, I didn't realize that I couldn't even attend, let alone speak, if I hadn't RSVP'ed. (One may attend a DC Council hear…

Homelessness: A Growing Problem

On Tuesday, May 11th, DC Government held its bi-monthly Inter-agency Council on Homelessness (ICH) meeting. In attendance were department heads from the Dept. of Human Services (DHS) and the Dept. of Mental Health (DMH) as well as the chief of police and representatives of Emergency Medical Services (EMS). There were also shelter employees and other homeless service providers as well as homeless advocates, some of whom were homeless themselves.

As various committee members gave reports on their respective areas of expertise, one report stood out to me. It was that of Sue Marshall, director of the Community Partnership for the Prevention of Homelessness (TCP) which is contracted under DHS to manage most of the city's homeless services (www.community-partnership.org). She read the results of the annual point-in-time homeless count which her agency conducts during the last week of January each year, as mandated by HUD. The report indicated that there had actually been a 5% increase i…

From Homeless to Homeless Advocate in Washington, D.C.

I arrived in Washington, D.C. on the night of July 31st, 2005. Having received many gifts while hitchhiking from Gainesville, Florida, I was able to board a Greyhound bus in Charlottesville, Virginia and ride the rest of the way to D.C. I'd actually come to the capital to get involved in the anti-war movement, but would soon find myself advocating for the city's homeless community.

In June of 2006, it was announced that then-mayor Anthony Williams planned to close the Franklin School Shelter, which held 240 men at the time, and to open another one which would only accommodate 120 men. He planned to allow developers to turn the historic Franklin School (built in 1869) into a "boutique hotel." About a dozen homeless men formed the Committee to Save Franklin Shelter in an effort to reverse this decision. We met with city officials, held rallies and led marches through town holding signs and banners with slogans such as "People Over Profit" and "Housing is…