September 15, 2008

Last Chance for the Franklin Shelter

The fate of hundreds of our city’s most vulnerable residents hangs in the balance, and tomorrow morning might be the last chance to help ensure that they are not shut out in the cold.

The City Council will meet tomorrow to discuss emergency legislation that would keep the Franklin Shelter open until the Mayor’s proposed 400 units of affordable housing are operational. So far, some of the men at Franklin Shelter have received housing assignments – as reported by the Washington Post last Friday. But at this point it is still not at all clear that some 300 men will end up with a roof as winter approaches. Most of the residents have not been placed on an assignment list, and rumors are swirling that some of those who did receive assignments were not even Franklin Center residents.

It bears repeating that these men – if not properly housed – would end up costing the city far more in terms of hospital stays, putting them in jail cells on cold nights, and so on. Here at Bread for the City, we support Mayor Fenty’s Housing First initiative to provide DC’s homeless with more stable, humane living situations; however, by rushing towards an arbitrary deadline without a clear, viable plan in place for those who are affected, the city is acting upon expedience rather than justice and common sense.

We spoke with Patty Mullahy Fugere, executive director of the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless, who urged all concerned parties to please contact the Council and encourage them to support Chairman Vince Gray’s efforts to pass Bill 17-0527. We already know that Councilmembers Thomas, Mendelson, and Brown are in support of keeping Franklin open until the homeless residents can be moved into other housing—please thank them for not putting 300 more homeless residents on the street right before winter, and urge the other Councilmembers to do the same.

Also, make sure the emergency legislation passed tomorrow guarantees that we have emergency shelter beds downtown!

Vince Gray, Chair
(202) 724-8032

Phil Mendelson, At Large
(202) 724-8064

Carol Schwartz, At Large
(202) 724-8105

Kwame Brown, At Large
(202) 724-8174

David Catania, At Large
(202) 724-7772

Jim Graham, Ward 1
(202) 724-8181

Jack Evans, Ward 2
(202) 724-8058

Mary Cheh, Ward 3
(202) 724-8062

Muriel Bowser, Ward 4
(202) 724-8052

Harry Thomas, Ward 5
(202) 724-8028

Tommy Wells, Ward 6
(202) 724-8072

Yvette Alexander, Ward 7
(202) 724-8068

Marion Barry, Ward 8
(202) 724-8045

A rally will be held at 9am at the Wilson Building (1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW) -- if you plan to attend, remember to bring a photo ID in order to gain access to the building. For more information about the rally, please contact Empower DC at (202) 234-9119. In the meantime, if you are a reporter or if you’d like more up-to-date information from the source, please contact the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless at (202) 328-5500.

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