Calvary Women’s Services has moved Pathways for Women, and it’s other program that was housed on 5th Street, into a new building. We purchased and renovated a larger building at 1217 Good Hope Road, SE. The programs moved on November 30. To check out our new home, check out the photos on Flickr that you can reach through our website, www.calvaryservices.org.
The windows of the former Pathways shelter at the corner of 4th & Mass NW (317 H Street NW) have been boarded up this week.
Street Soccer USA (SSUSA) in partnership with sponsors the Leonsis Foundation, HELP USA, the Washington Kastles, Nike, and Deloitte hosts the annual Street Soccer USA Cup for the homeless this year in Washington DC. From July 30 through August 1 teams of males and females from 18 cities across the US will compete at Washington Kastles Stadium at the future site of CityCenter DC (H & 11th Streets NW).
During the Street Soccer USA Cup, over 20 teams representing a variety of agencies (grassroots, city wide, and national homeless service providers) from cities including Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Sacramento, San Francisco, Charlotte and Washington, D.C., will compete for the Street Soccer USA Championship in fast-paced, 4 versus 4 street soccer action.
The event includes exhibition matches, live entertainment, and thousands of cheering fans and volunteers from the local and national communities. The festivities begin at 5PM Friday, July 30 with confirmed attendees including Mayor Fenty, Ted Leonis, Sheila Johnson, Mark Ein, and members from the Washington Freedom.
To reserve your FREE ticket, go to www.streetsoccerusa.org
The below memo is from Merc Fox who is working with Martha’s Table to relocate McKenna’s Wagon away from it’s current location on 4th Street NW:
McKenna’s Wagon, a mobile soup kitchen that provides meals to DC’s homeless and undernourished, is currently investigating a location for its operation over the next 24-36 months. I will be working with the Wagon to identify an appropriate location in the general vicinity of Mount Vernon Square neighborhood.
Proposed locations include the following site in NW:
Gales School & Reservation @ 1st & G & Mass
City lot @ 2nd & New Jersey & I & H
City lot @ 7th & New York & K
These sites have been identified as a potentially appropriate site because of their proximity to similar homeless outreach services and distance from residences.
Please send your questions, comments, and concerns to Merc Fox at: email@example.com or Lindsey Buss at: LBUSS@MARTHASTABLE.ORG no later than April 15, 2010. Include your address. All correspondence is confidential and only for the purpose of final determination.
In November Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) moved out of the CAAB building to relocate in SW DC.
Predictably the homeless have found the sunken patio a nice place to crash. In fact, my condo has a direct, if distant, view of the stairs that lead out of the patio. I can safely state that in this case it is a homeless transvestite prostitute.
So much for the claim by those who support Single Sale Moratorium exemptions that vagrants don’t drink Heineken. I don’t doubt they prefer Steel Reserve 211’s due to price but to suggest they wouldn’t drink a Heineken has always seemed absurd to me.
Mount Vernon Square: Lifein MVSNA readers vent about the City Vista Safeway
H Street NE: Frozen Tropics reports that a new H Street shuttle service starts this month. The free shuttle will run between the Gallery Place station and the Minnesota Ave station each evening from 5pm until the Metro closes. Readers comment that the free nature of the shuttle could attract too much volume from the X2 line.
Citywide: WaPo’s Raw Fisher reports on new policies aimed to discourage homeless encampment in our libraries. New rules will prohibit sleeping in the libraries or carrying more than two bags into the branches.
Kudos to the people who are spending their Saturday cleaning the trash off the empty lot at 4th and L. It looks like they’re doing a great job. But with nothing to stop people from using the lot to feed the homeless, why won’t their efforts be wasted?
Last night a meeting to discuss the park at the confluence of 2nd, Mass and H Street was held. Attendees included, but not limited to, residents from the Sonata, a representative from the office building at 251 H Street, our MVT CID executive director Bill McLeod, president of the MVSNA Cary Silverman, Thor Nelson from the Office of Planning and Sarah Moulton from the Department of Park and Recreations.
The park is presently an under utilized eyesore. The heavy traffic surrounding the park isolates it. Homeless sleep in the park with one often camped inside the center ring of bushes. There was also talk of a recent illegal BBQ (by homeless?) at the park. The park is not well maintained, safe or inviting.
Funding is not presently available to perform a major overhaul of the park. Long term this could be negotiated with the developer seeking air rights over I-395 but improvements are needed in the short term. The Office of Planning (OP) has identified a transportation funds grant program that could provide the modest funding needed for small scale improvements including critical irrigation. With this intersection being one of the busiest in the city it qualifies and has the visibility to increase likelihood to receive the grant. However the grant will require that ongoing park maintenance is secured. If this comes together the improvements could begin as soon as October.
Rendering from Dept or Park & Recs (DPR)
The Department of Parks and Recs (DPR) has developed a set of design guidelines for the site. These cite the short term objectives for the park to be primarily beautification of the space and creation of a marker for the surrounding neighborhoods and the immediate area on Massachusetts Ave. DPR has also identified materials and plants that could be relocated from the Art Walk at the Old Convention Center site to keep costs down.
From the Draft document distributed by DPR:
Short Term Scenario Implementations Guidance:
- Provide a minimal, but bold planting pallet to be both low maintenance and highly visible to passing motorists.
- Focus tree planting on streets edges and in areas with significant soil depth.
- Install focal artwork or monument to create a sense of place and draw for the area.
- Provide benches and other seating to allow lunchtime gathering and passive use of the park
- Preserve existing pavement areas and repair where needed
- Implement “quick fix” pedestrian safety measures like: new cross walk painting, adding parking lanes to Mass Avenue next to park
Discussion turned more towards the homeless impact on the park. The Central Union Mission is opening a 150 bed shelter at the Gales School within a year just a block from the park. DPR’s position is that parks are an amenity for everyone including the homeless. It should be designed to be safe and engage all people.
Cary Silverman expanded upon his previous point of the Gales School shelter opening and pointed out that the isolation of the park is appealing to the homeless. He suggested the space needs a draw to bring surrounding residents across the busy streets to the park. There is no design for a prominent draw in the short term plans. An expenditure of a fountain or statue could be taken on longer term. A Sonata owner chimed in with the benefits of the park embracing dog owners. Dogs owners want green space to walk their pets and most presently walk to the Building Museum. She suggested the added benefit to the community that dogs tend to discourage vagrancy
“scare people who know they are where they shouldn’t be.” I don’t think she’s suggesting anyone shouldn’t be at the park. But people shouldn’t be camping in the bushes . McLeod made note of this as he said “durable grass”.
Lastly, an important message was put forth that this park would NOT be THE PARK for the Triangle. Both DPR and the MVT CID want a larger more central green space less isolated by heavy traffic. There are some alternative that are being studied regarding this but they were not shared in the meeting. One possibility I have previously seen in the Mount Vernon Triangle Transportation and Public Realm Design Project suggests a park along a new extension of 3rd Street built out over I-395.
Note: Cary Silverman has also covered the meeting on his blog. Cary is spearheading a “Friend of the (name TBD) Park” effort.
Via random googling I came across an article dated April 23, 2008 about the Mount Vernon Triangle in the American Observer. The American Observer is produced by the American University School of Communication’s graduate journalism program. It is an online magazine is a student publication that focuses on news from campus, Washington, and the world.
The piece discusses a spectrum of issues with ranging from homeless services, Section 8 housing, City Vista, and local small businesses. The auther chats with a spectrum of people including MVT CID Bill McLeod, Kristine Thompson of Calvary Women’s Services, Vera Watson, a resident of Museum Square for 25 years, and the owners of G & J Deli and Tunnel Wine & Spirits.
Other, newer businesses are banking that the new residents of the neighborhood will bring new jobs and fresh dollars to the area. Already, recent upstarts like Tunnel Fine Wines and Spirits on H Street are awaiting the influx of wealthy patrons.
The dark-wood paneling and cobbled floors of the liquor store distinguish it from others in the area. In the back of the store, a wine cooler holds bottles of white from around the world and a small, decorated room stands ready for a community wine-tasting later in the evening.
Owner Feleke Girma, a 23-year resident of the D.C. area, started the business two months ago. Despite already having survived a robbery, he trusts that the new demographic of the neighborhood will appreciate his openness.
“I used to have to work behind bullet-proof glass,” he said, describing his experience at his former convenience store on Georgia Avenue, which was not part of the Triangle improvement district. Thinking back to the Triangle’s neighborhood 15 and 20 years ago, Girma acknowledged the whole demographic has changed. Before, many of the buildings were boarded up, he said.
“These changes were necessary,” he said. “It has been neglected for a long time.”
I previously recapped the panelist discussion from the recent special joint MVSNA/DNA meeting on Homelessness and Housing issues. You can reference that recap [here].
The Q&A discussion between the community members and panelists also deserves a recap. I’m new to the area and am still absorbing the challenges for our community. I always learn much from the questions raised by experienced residents. Among the questions were:
- Homeless impact on the libraries
- Pathologies of the homeless
- Locations of shelters
- Is the homeless ‘burden’ really being spread across the district
- Lack of communication with residents
- Perceived busing of the homeless to downtown
Homeless impact on the libraries: Due to the lack of day service centers for the homeless many homeless residents will congregate at libaries such as MLK Library during the day. The Department of Human Services feels that the scattered site housing first approach will help mitigate this. Large meal and mattress shelter facilities are often only open 7pm to 7am leaving their members to fend for themselves during the day. Housing First provides a home and local services.
Pathologies of the homeless: A community member raised concerns that while they do have compassion for the homeless they are worried that individuals with pathologies such as drug addiction, past criminal sexual offenders behavior are allowed to roam the streets unchecked due to their homelessness. For instance, a sexual offender would typically need to register their address into an offender database, notify neighbors of a community when moving in and stay a certain distance from schools. The perception is that the homeless sex offenders skirt by under the radar and avoid these same hurdles. The panel took the angle in their response that the pathologies you find in the homeless are also found in society at large. While true I’m not sure it adequately addresses the sex offender tracking issue.
Panhandling: I found the topic of panhandling to be the most interesting of the evening. Chet Grey wanted to stress to everyone that while many chronic homeless in the downtown do panhandle that conversely many panhandlers are not homeless. Mr Grey gave examples of panhandlers that make $100/day. Such individuals have perfected techniques to earn a living through panhandling. One panhandler sells free Smithsonian maps for $1 to tourists. Others position themselves near popular news stands to get change from pedestrians who buy newspapers. He told a story of one panhandler he knew on a first name basis who was not homeless but used his earnings to buy crack. A member of the audience chimed in that the tourist traffic in the downtown is a magnet for panhandling and that he’s seen a tourist give a $20 bill to one before. While residents who see the same panhandlers on the same corners everyday do the smart thing and donate to an organization rather than a beggar – tourists do not. I myself have seen the same pan handler near my office in Rosslyn for years. Some days he even has a cell phone that he hides in his hat…
Location / Downtown Burden / Communication: Residents expressed concerns about the perceived clustering of homeless shelters within blocks of the intersection of Mass Ave and H Street NW. The Mitch Snyder Shelter at 2nd and D streets is privately run and has over 1000 beds. The Central Union Mission’s relocation to the Gales School also places it nearby. Rumors in the Washingtonpost earlier this year also suggested new shelters could open at 4th and L Streets NW as well as 2nd and Mass Aves NW. The idea of four shelters clustered so closely made residents uneasy. The response from the panel was that the WaPo rumored new locations were erroneous. The Gales School had previously been a shelter and plans to reuse it in that capacity had been public for five years. What I inferred from their collective response is that the downtown does presently have a concentration of shelters. While new downtown shelters are not part of the plans we’re more likely to see downtown shelters downsized over time rather than being outright relocated to other parts of DC. The commitment to permanent supportive scattered site housing will gradually shift the burden out of the downtown. Market forces (read: real estate prices) will naturally make other parts of the city better candidates for these housing sites. MVSNA president Cary Silverman took a moment to recap the anxiety that residents experienced due to the WaPo rumors surfacing at the same time as the public announcement that the Central Union Mission would be relocated to the Gales School. It was agreed that more ongoing communication between neighborhood associations and homeless service/housing entities would be mutually beneficial.
Perceived busing of the homeless to downtown: Residents inquired about the heresay that other parts of the city bus their homeless downtown. Chapman Todd fielded this question. He cited an example of homeless busing related to the closure of the Randall School Shelter in SW DC. This shelter was closed several years back with many of it’s homeless shifted to another shelter south of the Anacostia River. Many of the homeless that stayed at the Randall School frequented the downtown during the day (some for jobs). Once shifted south of the Anacostia a bus service run by Park and Recs(?) was established. This bus service was meant to return the homeless to their shelter south of the river rather than bus homeless downtown. Of course bus trips by nature are round trips…
I’m particularly glad to hear the rumor of a new homeless shelter at 4th and L Street NW is false. I just could not see that as a compatible use with the one long awaited downtown grocer (CityVista Safeway) only a 1/2 block away.
I attended the joint MVSA/DNA joint meeting earlier tonight. This special meeting featured a forum on the homeless issues and housing plans.
This will be part 1 of 2 part post. I’ll recap the forum speaker’s talking points in this space and separate the highlights of the forum Q&A in a follow up post.
Miles Groves of the DNA assembled the follow panel for the forum:
Participants included (from left to right above) Clarence H. Carter, Director of the District’s Department of Human Services; Jose Sousa representing the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development; Chapman Todd, Division Director of Housing Programs at Catholic Charities; Chet Grey, Director of Housing Services with the Downtown BID; and David Treadwell, Executive Director of the Central Union Mission.
Chet Grey led off the discussion. Mr Grey began by stressing that the homeless are people like you and I that simply lack the basic need of a roof over their head. He asked for a show of hands in the room of those who were lifelong DC residents. I believe only 1 or 2 hands were raised. Chet then stated that 85% of the homeless were longtime DC residents. At later points of forum discussion Chet further humanized the issues about both homeless that the BID has helped and notorious pan handlers he is familiar with by referring to these individuals on a first name basis with details of their stories. Chet also explained the Pathways to Housing program the downtown BID participates in, the success rate of the program (90%) and the head counts for how many people they have helped in the program and aim to help in the coming year.
Chapman Todd from Catholic Charities was next in the line of speakers. Mr Todd provided some definitions on the types of homeless and some statistics on the magnitude. Chronic homeless are those for whom homelessness has become their permanent way of life. Transitional homeless are those for whom homelessness is a temporary predicament. The transitional homeless may only experience homelessness a few days a year. The total homeless population in DC was estimated at around 6000. Of which 1840 are chronic homeless in the shelter system, 300 are chronic homeless not participating in the shelter system with the balance being transitional homeless. Mr Todd acknowledged that the Franklin School shelter was a Catholic Charities run emergency shelter. He openly suggested that the facility has not been successful. The Franklin School was not well suited for a use as a shelter. Rather it only became a shelter due to unfortunate past policy decisions of “what’s available“. He stated that this type of shelter was not what Catholic Charities wants to do going forward. The ideal goal of their organization is permanent supportive scattered site housing. They feel that is the strategy best suited to success. Mt Carmel House was cited as an example of permanent supportive housing from Catholic Charities that falls within the downtown area. Todd also appealed to the audience that this approach passes both the Human Dignity and Fiscal tests.
David Treadwell spoke about the Central Union Mission. The Central Union shelter will be relocating in Oct 2009 from 14th and R Streets NW to the Gales School at 65 Mass Ave NW. Mr Treadwell briefly mentioned reasons for the move. Chiefly his currently facility was inadequate with one cited example that heating the old building cost over $300K/yr. Treadwell described Central Union as a ‘high barrier’ shelter facility. This means that they have rules and structure such as no smoking, no cussing, meals and showers are only available at certain times of the day. Central Union also has nightly ministry services. Their plans for the Gales School are for the shelter to be a 125-150 bed facility with upgrades from their current facility including privacy dividers, improving dining area, computers and a day room.
Jose Sousa briefly/rapidly (he’s a fast talker) explained the role of the Planning and Economic Development office. The main takeaway here was that they recognize supportive and affordable housing as being part of their development responsibilities. They tackle this objective by partnering with groups like Catholic Charities, Central Union Mission, etc and work with them to get them the facilities they need.
Clarence Carter of the Department of Human Services spoke the most of any forum panelist. His key points were to describe why the District must take the ‘Housing First’ approach followed by person centric services. The Housing First Initiative (HFI) primarily acknowledges two things 1) Warehousing the chronic homeless in big shelters isn’t effective 2) It’s difficult for anyone to focus on addressing the underlying causes of their homelessness if they don’t have stability of housing. HFI supports the scattered site relocation of homeless in permanent supportive housing. The idea of person centric services is that a homeless person is best positioned to succeed if a program of services that they need, which may include food stamps, job training, substance abuse counseling, etc is individually designed for them. Carter’s team will be responsible for mitigating the closure of the Franklin School so that none of the homeless currently served their will be forced to the streets. He cited that after the closure of the DC Village shelter last year that the District does now have a track record of making this work.