DC Mayor Muriel Bowser Promote Homeless Employment B4 Family Shelters

I maintain my assertion that BENEVOLENT DICTATORSHIP is the only form of governance that effectively helps the working poor. (Maybe after Bernie Sanders becomes Hillary Clinton's vice president, he'll spend his last two years on the planet creating Wall Street regulations and social reforms that eliminate the need for the working poor to obtain food stamps and rental assistance.) The extreme NIMBY-ism that is reaching a boiling point in reaction to DC Mayor Muriel Bowser's plan to replace the DC General Family Shelter stands as a testament to my first point. The NIMBY-ists have gotten downright ugly, going so far as to do a mass walk-out on the mayor's administration as the admin held one of its many meetings since 2/11 about he mayor's plan. (These people went so far as to attend a March 17th hearing about the family shelter plan which was held at City Hall and complained while there about having not been given the opportunity to voice their concerns. Go figure.) The more suave -- and less rude -- residents of DC were able to formulate NIMBY-ish reasons that sounded somewhat legit, though any seasoned advocate could see right through the BS (and didn't need to have a BS to do it).

The poor don't need for their issues to be put to a public vote just so that an unsympathetic, ill-informed and oft irrational public can demand that government officials implement draconian policies. I believe the phrase for such a practice is "inverted totalitarianism". While some might ask why it is that the mayor is attempting to create emergency legislation that would allow her to move forward on her plan to replace an emergency shelter which came under extreme scrutiny after an 8-year old girl went missing from it, I say that the real question is, "Why do we put this or any matter concerning a public emergency to a public vote and a prolonged public input process??? Doesn't that contradict the nature of an emergency???". If I ever see a Ward 3 resident choking, I'm going to take a vote on who should perform the Heimlich maneuver before anyone is allowed to help them. We'll be able to house another homeless family soon thereafter. long story short, the homeless need a BENEVOLENT DICTATOR to work on their behalf.

I'm still holding out hope that Muriel Bowser (or a cabinet member who deals with homelessness) will become that BENEVOLENT DICTATOR that we need. Some of the mayor's behaviors which DC residents including Yours Truly have presented as negatives have begun to take on a positive air -- for me, anyway. Not giving ample notice about meetings concerning the proposed family shelter sites has probably reduced the number of NIMBY-ists who inundate the administration with their solution-free complaints down to a third or less of what it would have otherwise been. A perceived lack of transparency concerning how she chose the sites has, no doubt, impeded the ability of the more suave NIMBY-ists to formulate arguments that sound legit but which only serve as a front for an all-out hatred of the poor. Though I've suspected that the Bowser administration was waiting until six months or less before the planned closure of the CCNV Shelter to inform its residents (an idea which would have made it impossible to adequately address the employment challenges of able-bodied homeless people), I've now begun to tell the many homeless people who ask about the 1,350-bed shelter's future that the crises surrounding homeless families and a single males' shelter outside of which several murders have occurred since 2012 are forcing the mayor to put CCNV's future on the back burner. That said, I'll suspend judgment on Mayor Bowser's style and manner for now. I might need to make like a funny little presidential candidate and completely back-pedal on my comments about my perception of underhandedness on her part.

I recently highlighted what the mayor said about homeless during her 2016 State of the District Address (SODA) as having been a sensationalistic attempt to extort people into complying with her plan. She said:

"So we’re going to close DC General by opening up small, short-term family housing across the District. Beautiful and dignified places where families can thrive, and where little children can be little children.

But we cannot do it alone. The Council paved the way with a vote last fall, and we need your next vote to move us forward again.

I urge us not to be distracted by arguments based on fear…..or convenience….or apples and oranges comparisons that falsely represent the cost of lifting families out of homelessness.

Because make no mistake. If we fail to act – or if we do not move forward with one of the sites – we will not be able to close DC General. Not now, not any time soon, and maybe never.
While I'm not reversing that judgment, the more recent reactions to her plan by Wards 3 and 5 necessitate a revisiting of the reality of a plan that includes new construction being brought to fruition in less than 2.5 years. While the Ward 3 Bourgeoisie was just being downright nasty, Ward 5 residents brought forth some very legit reasons as to why the chosen site for that ward will not work -- and they presented alternatives. Even so, the mayor DID say that "If we do not move forward with [even] ONE of the sites – we will not be able to close DC General. Not now, not any time soon, and maybe never". and we now have at least TWO sites to which there might be enough opposition to put the plan for that site -- and for the closing of DC General Shelter AND for the construction of an Olympic village in the Hill East neighborhood by 2028 -- on hold. In lieu of this intensifying opposition, MAYOR MURIEL BOWSER needs to be reminded of HER OWN WORDS, take a good hard look at the probability of implementing her plan before her 2018 re-election bid -- and possibly change her plan significantly.

SOLUTION: Unlike the snobbish, NIMBY-ist Ward 3 Bourgeoisie, I like to present solutions. For the solution to this matter, we can pull from the words of people who (like me, a Ward 6 resident) attended the Ward 3 Family Shelter meeting on February 11th, some of whom asked LAURA ZEILINGER how homeless families were going to exit any of these yet-to-be-built shelters when some of the families had already been in the current shelter for over a year and some employment challenges take more than 90 days to address. (Though said in a hateful spirit, some of their arguments actually DO hold water.) The BOWSER ADMINISTRATION might do well to place greater emphasis on employment for homeless parents and singles even now. Then, even as they softened and euphemized the term "shelter" by calling it "temporary housing", they could eliminate the narrative of "moving homeless families into better shelters" and replace it with one that promotes "connecting the working poor to living-wage jobs and affordable housing". After all, it stands to reason that, if families that have been residing in the current shelter and in hotels for 90 days or more thus far haven't found living-wage employment already, then relocating to better shelters won't change that -- for the better, anyway. The general public might be more amenable to having the "working poor" move into their neighborhoods than they are to having people whom the Gray administration presented as "lazy and shiftless" moving into their neighborhoods. If the wealthy of Ward 3 were to reject even the working poor, then their hatred of the Proletariat and Broletariat would be further exposed -- and quite unquestionably and irreversibly, at that.

What's more is that, at the end of the [work]day, living-wage jobs would help the homeless (the majority of whom are able to work) to exit homelessness. I've suspected that public officials in all administrations since January 1999 (Williams: 1999 to 2007; Fenty: 2007 to 2011; Gray: 2011 to 2015; Bowser 2015 to present) were afraid that, if they addressed the employment and wage issues of the city's homeless, then that would begin a ripple effect wherein the housed poor might join the homeless in common cause and the low-income workers from nearby states whom the gentrifiers seek to keep out would flock to the District. Ironically, it is a renewed emphasis on living-wage jobs for the homeless and poor which may very well be what saves the mayor's plan for homeless families -- and her 2018 re-election bid. So, Mayor Muriel Bowser Promote Homeless Employment B4 Family Shelters


Manny Lamont said…
You're going to have NIMBY-ism for a long time to come. I would read the April 11th article by Chris Hedges on truthdig.com. Afterwards you may want to grab a beer or something to get over the severe depression that his articles tend to induce.

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