Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Mayor Bowser, What Is the Future of DC's CCNV Shelter??? Jobs for Residents???


Update on the
Future of CCNV
Because you have a right to know

DC GOVERNMENT has asked me “NOT TO HIT THE PANIC BUTTON” – that is NOT to worry HOMELESS people with a guess of a 2017 or 2018 CCNV shelter closure. So, I made THIS INFORMATIONAL FLYER which I'm sharing in print and electronically. Please click on and share it with any and ALL of your interested contacts. 

DC GOVERNMENT insists that NO DATE HAS BEEN SET for the closure of CCNV.

Nonetheless, I suspect that DC Mayor Muriel Bowser MIGHT be developing plans to close the Federal City Shelter which is also known as the Community for Creative non-Violence or CCNV before the end of 2017, but probably not before the presidential inauguration following what I believe will be a Clinton/Sanders victory in November 2016. I've been asked by the administration not to speak "definitively" about the mayor's plans irrespective of what I see happening in the neighborhood.

There is the matter of the 2.2 million square foot, $1.3 billion dollar Capitol Crossing project across the road from the CCNV Shelter. This site could be completed as soon as 2023. Nobody in their right mind actually believes the shelter will be allowed by city officials to remain until then. (Many homeless people are anxious to be employed by this construction site across the road from the shelter.)

In this case, the developers are very friendly and accommodating, though they may unwittingly play into the city's plan of gentrification by giving the administration a "constructive" reason to close a shelter that has drawn a lot of negative attention lately. 


The John L.Young and Open Door Women's Shelters were scheduled to relocate from FCS to the former Gospel Rescue Mission location in Chinatown in November 2015 as a result of an initiative by former mayor Vince Gray. Due to delays in the renovation, that move will take place in early 2016 -- decreasing the building's census by about 200 women.  I was told by an administration official in June 2015 that DC Government does not plan to use the vacated space at FCS, being that the 75-year old building is dilapidated (and I believe it sustained some damage during the earthquake of 2012). I'm wondering when the administration will decide to stop using the 250 hypothermia-season beds, bringing the census just below 900 people.

Ms. Bowser was on the DC Council in 2013 when there was a hearing about FCS/CCNV at which time then-Councilman Jim Graham took steps to convene the CCNV Task Force whose two dozen people and nine months of effort ended with the passage of a law which contained 17 guiding principles (and no concrete recommendations) and that essentially gives the mayor (which she was well on her way to becoming when it ended in July 2014) carte blanche to do as s/he chooses to the 1,350 people that the building can hold. Some advocates want to meet with the mayor so as to hash out a plan that satisfies the needs of all FCS residents and creates ample supports for those who will become homeless in the future.  

I've suspected since as far back as May 2015 that Muriel Bowser is one to fly under the radar and to implement plans that, taken at face value, look good. It saddens me to say that I think I'm right. Muriel Bowser, like any politician, doesn't seem to want people protesting her plans. I get that; but, disliking protests doesn't preclude her from holding town hall meetings during which people can give meaningful input -- something she has done for less contentious issues. She probably knows that almost any plan to close a facility that serves the homeless will be met with opposition, as was the case with the Franklin School Shelter.

Like former DC mayor Adrian Fenty whose protege she is, Mayor Bowser is able to present her plans to close a homeless shelter as a good thing. She can tell the public about her plans to house people. She can explain that she will create several smaller shelters. The general public will assume that the mayor won't leave the homeless high and dry. Unfortunately, most people have short attention spans and memories to match.

The homeless as well as their advocates know that, as with the former DC Village Family Shelter in October 2007, a mayor can promise indefinite housing and claim a year or two later that there is not sufficient funding for this promised housing. S/he can then offer to pay people's rents on a sliding scale over a years time, requiring a family that is caught in the throes of generational poverty to pay in excess of $2,000 rent for a three-bedroom. That's not to speak of the fact that the government apartments that some people are moved into are more “unfit for human habitation” than the shelter that the government so compassionately moved people out of. Though there is no shortage of complaints about city shelters, many realistic homeless parents realize that it is the closest thing to safe and affordable “housing” that they have at their disposal right now. For those reasons, they elect to remain in shelter.

How stupid do they think we ARE!!! 

Muriel Bowser was on the council when DC Village Family Shelter was closed. She witnessed the protests before and after Franklin School Shelter was closed in 2008. She would have to be aware that I was a named plaintiff on a lawsuit against the city in connection with the Franklin School Shelter closure. She knows that an Occupy DC-affiliated group broke into the building three years later. She should also know that there were problems with the implementation of Permanent Supportive Housing which Fenty used to justify the Franklin closure, only to find that he couldn't develop a feasible plan for the building. Some of the former shelter residents who were among the most vulnerable and disabled didn't receive the promised “wrap-around” services as the shelter was closed quickly and haphazardly. Various DC residents have wondered why, in lieu of the limited renovation options, he was so adamant about closing the shelter. The answer to that question is also the primary concern of the city's able-bodied homeless community:

City officials are aiding gentrification (whether through intent or ignorance) and actively decreasing the number of low-income rental units – effectively getting poor people “out of the way”. To further complicate matters, the freight train of gentrification is so far down the track now that even a good-hearted mayor can't stop it at this point. Ought she to try???

Mayor Bowser can mount a losing battle against gentrification; but, who wants to mount a losing battle? She can make it a point to call out the evil gentrifiers so as to expose them; but, evil people know they're evil without being told. Chances are they won't change because you expose their evil. She can actively contribute to the gentrification process. Or she can do her best NOT to contribute to the injustices that are perpetrated upon the city's poor by the wealthy and well-to-do. However, Mayor Bowser said less than a week into her term that she plans to run for re-election. With city rents rising; the changing demographics making the concerns of the poor less relevant; and Blacks now comprising less than half of the city's population, Mayor Bowser has every reason to cater only to those who make $80,000 or more annually and eat their meals off of China -- where she herself IS right now.

This means that we who are the poor and our advocates need to fight harder or our defeat is certain. In a strange twist to Washington, DC's story of gentrification, a developer recently told me that he has made various efforts to assist the city's Human Services functionaries in creating newer smaller shelters to replace the large, decrepit one located across the road from his recently-completed development; but, the city's Human Services functionaries have found every reason whereby to obstruct THEIR stated plan to move toward smaller shelters.

As stated in a prior post, I believe that as many as 600 of the shelter's 1,350 occupants might be housed, which looks good on its face. The other 750 will most likely be moved to other sites or have their bed eliminated when they leave the shelter for a few nights -- similar to what was done with Franklin.

While the (secret?) plan is not all bad, the lack of community input IS. 

So, let's get the word out and have the homeless community come together to assert our collective will. After all, government making decisions FOR us instead of WITH us doesn't do anything to make homeless people into productive, well-functioning citizens.

Nothing about us without us!!!

If a government employee's apartment building were going to be closed, demolished and rebuilt, that person would want to know as far in advance as possible. If said government employee wants homeless people to become responsible adults, they can start by involving the homeless in conversations that affect them.

A failure to plan is a plan to fail:
 A failure by DC Government to connect able-bodied homeless singles to living-wage jobs IS INDEED (part of) a plan to force them out of the city.

Let's FORCE the administration to give us answers!!!

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