Monday, November 5, 2012

SHARC Update and Discussion Points for November 5th Meeting


1 – SHARC has weathered the storm and made the best of a mess. Though Sandy “rained on our parade” by forcing the cancellation of an event which we spent five weeks planning and organizing, it hasn't discouraged us from trying again. We'll come back bigger and better the next time.

There is no need to consider what possible shortcomings SHARC may have exhibited during the storm. Given the fact that we had many food donations, the rain date would have been the next day (Tuesday) during which the government was shut down. Sandy was an unpredictable storm which we only found out on the 26th was going hit us on the 29th of October (the day of our event). That said, the five weeks leading up to October 29th were a true show of our increased organizing ability. So, let's give ourselves a hand, dust ourselves off and chart the path forward.

As a result of Sandy, SHARC members were able to:

begin the conversation around bringing three councilmembers together in a meeting. They are Jim Graham (Human Services Oversight Committee), Michael Brown (Oversight Committee on Economic Development and Housing) and Kenyan McDuffie (oversight Committee on Jobs and Workforce Development).

Speak with several councilmembers on the dais during their legislative meeting and make the case for ending homelessness rather than maintaining it.

Arrange a meeting with the mayor


2 – Weekly and Homeless Town Hall Meetings during the holiday and hypothermia season:

a) What day do we want our next big event to fall on?

– November 26th (the last Monday of the month)?
– December 31st (the last Monday of the year)?
December 24th (Christmas Eve)?
December 17th (which would give us six weeks to organize and fall nicely between events highlighting homelessness and hunger in the third week of November and the Homeless Persons' Memorial Day on December 21st)?


b) Do we want to meet on Christmas Eve or new Year's Eve? Both fall on Mondays.

c) Do we want to do anything special around Thanksgiving (November 22nd)? The Fannie Mae Homeless Walkathon would have been on November 17th (the Saturday before Thanksgiving).

3 – What should our next big event (our make up event for “Occupy the DC Council”) be?

An idea is that we plan a march from CCNV to the Wilson Building beginning at 11 AM on November 26th. We make our case to the council and/or the mayor. We then return to CCNV around 1 PM for our regular Homeless Town Hall Meeting. Those who marched are given tickets upon exiting the Wilson Building and eat first.

Another idea is that we plan a large event inside of the Wilson Building on December 17th (possibly without a march) and invite churches and other groups to feed the homeless there.

It doesn't need to be “either/or”. It can be “both/and”.
You are welcome to present additional ideas. These are just conversation starters.

4 – “The Future” of CCNV:

City officials and people from the business community have begun conversation around “The Future” of the CCNV Shelter. During my meeting with one such person, there was some confusion as to when either of us was talking about CCNV as is or the new concept which we envision. We began to refer to the revamped CCNV Shelter as “The Future”.

It is believed by many that the restrictive covenant between Ronald Reagan and Mitch Snyder mandates that the building be used as a homeless shelter until 2018 and the parking lot belongs to the homeless until 2099 with the right to renew the lease for the latter indefinitely. It is also believed that the property on which the building and parking lot sit is worth as much as $120M. What's certain is that, if the building were sold, ALL MONIES GENERATED FROM THE SALE MUST BE USED FOR THE HOMELESS COMMUNITY.

All of this adds up to the city being FORCED to use the CCNV property to assist the homeless community in one way or another. City officials and the business community have been informed that ANY PLANS TO BUILD ON THAT PIECE OF LAND WOULD HAVE TO INCLUDE HOUSING AT LEAST 1,350 HOMELESS PEOPLE. This gives homeless/housing advocates a constant (invariable) which we can use as a starting point for our thoughts on how best to assist the homeless residents of the Federal City Shelter (CCNV, Open Door, John L. Young, DC Central Kitchen and the Unity Health Clinic).

Plans that are being discussed include:

building a 10-story building on the parking lot
taking the present building up to 10 stories (possibly rebuilding it from the ground up)
having a mix of permanent apartments, supportive housing units, transitional housing units and shelter for at least 1,350 people
giving tax credits to contractors
having homeless people help design the program

While several people have expressed understandable skepticism about the city's plans to effectively assist the homeless community, let's bear in mind that a 24-year old restrictive covenant is holding them at bay. Let's also remember that, if we refuse to come to the table with those who are ostensibly there to work with us, we give them occasion to say that they reached out to us and WE refused to work with them. On the other hand, if we come to the table with city officials and members of the business community and they fail to make good on their promises, they give us occasion to pin the blame on THEM. So, let's give them a chance.

A contract employee of the business community might attend our November 19th SHARC meeting.

5 – Forming a charette: It has been suggested that we form a charette that would draw up a plan for ending homelessness in DC and then take that plan to government officials, as opposed to waiting for the governments to end homelessness.

6 – Creating unconventional partnerships: It has been suggested that SHARC develop unconventional partnerships with environmental groups, the LGBT community and others who don't usually advocate with or for the homeless, as there are various reasons for which we are inextricably connected to them. (Most homeless teens were thrown out of their parents' house for being LGBT and the construction of affordable housing lends itself to the creation of green jobs.)

7 – Protesting/opposing unconventional targets: It has been suggested that SHARC demonstrate in front of the Verizon Center and other businesses that have tried to push homeless people and/or homeless services (including housing for the homeless) out of their neighborhood.

8 – Making our enemies work for/with us: It has been suggested that we involve those who don't want the homeless in their neighborhoods (see item #7) in our effort to end homelessness.

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