Homeless shelter relocating to edge of Triangle

It was announced today that the Central Union Mission homeless shelter has come to a new arrangement with the city government and will move from Logan Circle to 65 Massachusetts Ave NW. The mission sold their Logan Circle property for $7 million and intended to move in 2009 to a Petworth/Georgia Ave location they purchased two years ago.

Today DC Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) made the announcement about this shift in plans to Mass Ave. From what I’ve read, Graham and the members of the Petworth community did not feel placing a shelter of this size (170 beds) on Georgia Ave was a fit for their revitalization efforts. The mission management was agreeable to this change of venue as a greater concentration of homeless reside downtown.

The new Massachusetts Ave address is the old Gales School and is just outside the Triangle near the crossing of Mass and New Jersey Avenues. Google Maps suggested this was just 0.4 miles from my namesake intersection of 4th and Eye.

What does this mean for the Triangle? There is a substantial homeless population in the downtown area who need housing. On the otherhand, studies suggest that massive “meal and mattress” facilities are not the most effective approach. Mayor Fenty announced today that their new “Housing First” initiative is the preferred approach.

The website MissionDCFacts.com has a 2007 quote from the Senior Director of the mission, Barfonce Britton Baldwin, stating “I understand. If the Mission tried to move into my neighborhood, I would oppose it too.

Honestly, I’ve never been part of the solution to this particular issue. So I want to keep an open mind. But from a real estate perspective I’d be concerned if the Gales School was directly adjacent to my building. What is encouraging is the various comments I have come across on blogs from the mission’s current neighbors in Logan Circle suggest that shelter has never created problems. What are the thoughts of others?

Actually I did just come across a rather damning comment from a Logan resident:

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  1. 1

    dino says

    I won’t try to disguise this as being anything other than NIMBYish, but I can’t see how this is a good idea. Given that most shelters are 7pm-7am and are over capacity, it means the surrounding blocks become staging areas. With the city trying to revitalize the NoMa area from Union Station to the Convention center, this seems to go counter to that. If I’m FOSE or the AAS, I’d cast a serious eye at that new, controlled-access convention center down PG County way instead of bringing all of my invitees into the hotel- and service-lacking convention center. Sigh.

    They’ve been talking about the long-term housing solutions for a long time. It’s time to actually start opening them en masse.

  2. 2

    Anonymous says

    You are right, the Gaylord convention center in PG is going to put the DC center to shame. but this homeless shelter is not a good idea.

  3. 3

    DC Jeff says

    It must suck to be homeless. It must also be nice to find a place to stay on a cold night.

    The Gales school has no residential adjacent so that is not an issue. Of course, DC residents will have to face the homeless issue head on as they walk down Mass Ave.