Thread on the Georgia Avenue listserv about the possibility of a large homeless shelter moving from 14th and R St to the 3500 block of Georgia Avenue:
Part of the negative reaction to this move is a viceral one, based upon preconceptions about the male homeless population and the types of problems people assume they will bring with them, as opposed to being based on first-hand information or experiences.
But I have also talked with people whose opinions I respect because they have first-hand experience dealing with the homeless - social workers, counselors, etc. Every one questions the wisdom and effectiveness of a 200 bed facility, as opposed to a number of smaller facilities. And every one of them has said that the proposed location is a terrible one because it has many of the problems that this population is struggling with. There is a liquor store virtually every two blocks, there are one or more open air drug markets within a block or two of the site, and there is prostitution in the area. Also, what must be kept in mind is that a 200 bed shelter does not mean a daily influx of just 200 people. There will be a much larger number (probably a multiple) who will gravitate to the area seeking shelter. On any given day, a number of those people will be turned away. Some for no reason other than that the inn is full. But some will be turned away for being drunk or high or being an acknowledged troublemaker. Those folks will then be left wandering the neighborhood. What is going to be done to monitor the activities of this group? There is an elementary school and a park a couple of blocks away. Will there be an effort made to ensure that those places don't become congregating areas for the homeless during the day while they are waiting for the shelter to open or during the night for those who could not get into the shelter? I recognize that there is a need to provide shelter for the less fortunate and we should all be willing to bear some of the burden. But there are a lot of questions that need to be answered.
April 25, 2006 at 11:29 AM
The issue is that this particular part of Georgia is earmarked for extensive redevelopment (i.e. retail, condo, etc.) and a homeless shelter does not fall under those plans.
We must consider what is the optimal use for this location. If we put in a homeless shelter in that location, that is it. There is no second chance and an opportunity to develop space with a higher and better use is ruined.
Here is the DC governments plans for that space.
April 24, 2006 at 11:44 AM
It's a myth that Georgia Ave. is intended for 'higher quality retail and residential'.
This might be what some people would like, but the fact is the city's main thoroughfares are intended to meet a variety of needs.
Read the zoning (3CA):
Look at the zoning map:
These have been available for years.
April 24, 2006 at 10:32 AM
I think we must look at the big picture here. Petworth is a transitioning community with developers and retailers finally taking notice of the potential.
Regardless of the what services the DC Central Mission provides or the security they incorporate, a homeless shelter, which is what it is no matter how you dress it up, will not help draw people to the neighborhood or excellerate the appreciation of home prices.
The 3600 block of Georgia is prime redevelopment land. This land should be earmarked for what it was designed to be, higher quality retail and residential. Which ultimately provides more tax dollars to the city, which benefits all of us.
April 24, 2006 at 10:19 AM
We may not get to vote or give permission, but I think we all agree it's good to get buy-in from the community as well as create awareness of the impact. The e-mail from the Mission seemed like they were very open to talking about this with us.
April 21, 2006 at 05:35 PM
I get the impression that some folks think the Mission needs our permission to locate in Petworth. There's no alcohol license, zoning is already established for that block, and, I think, it's privately held property. We don't get to vote up or down on every business that wants to move to Petworth. Personally, I think that's a good thing.
April 21, 2006 at 05:29 PM
I am very worried about the size of this facility. I agree that we need to get insight from experts and I suspect they may tell us that placing the largest shelter in DC (twice the size of the original facility) could have a negative effect on our struggling neighborhood. I support smaller, scattered-site shelters. We've seen the problems created with poorly designed public housing programs that concentrate and isolate poverty, while stigmatizing inhabitants with structures that scream "I am public housing." I worry about similar problems developing due to the size and design of the Mission plan. How do community members get involved? I have written Fenty and I'm trying to contact Shanelle Anthony but we need to have a public discussion on this soon.
April 21, 2006 at 04:59 PM
So my initial reaction is to say I absolutely do not want a homeless shelter where I live. BUT, the truth is I am not an expert on this topic and have no knowledge or expertise that this is going to be a negative impact where I live.
If anyone among us does have true expertise in this, or knows of someone who does, I think it'd be worth a meeting for people to discuss this (perhaps a panel with the Mission and Jim Graham too).
For myself personally, I think a lot of the initial "no" responses come from having no idea of the impact.
DC has a lot of very intelligent people who do research on urban planning, issues relating to gentrification and understanding social problems such as homelessness. Perhaps it would be beneficial if we got some insight from some experts on this topic.
One name I came across recently is someone at the Brookings Institute named Anthony Downs (http://www.anthonydowns.com/) and he also happens to be part of the Counselors of Real Estate organization. I can send him a note this weekend to see if he has any information about this.
I think before i keep saying "no, this can't be relocated here" I need to better understand if there really will be a risk for my safety, my property values or the future development. If history proves that there is no, or minimal, negative impact and there is much more positive to be gained than I may change my mind...
April 21, 2006 at 04:34 PM
I must respecfully disagree with Joe. The 14th Street corridor was just a few blocks away from the desirable neighborhoods of DuPont Circle. I think that type of proximity to established, successful areas makes people more willing to take a chance on opening a business (even if there's a homeless shelter nearby). The 3600 block of Georgia Ave. faces a tougher challenge in drawing new retail, so the homeless shelter may very well have a more powerful dissuasive effect.
April 21, 2006 at 04:08 PM
I must disagree with Erin. Again, the evidence does not support her point. Within four blocks of the current Central Union Mission, there have been several, successful, new small businesses and restaurants created in the last few years including the Garden District, Pulp, two very expensive furniture stores, Cafe St. Ex, Rice (restaurant), expansion of the Studio Theatre, industrial-looking lofts rented and sold for high dollar amounts, numerous other restaurants and cafes, Logan Hardware, Whole Foods. (I now refer to this neighborhood as FauxHo, take off obviously on SoHo.) If you're concerned about Georgia Avenue's re-shaping, please come out to the development meetings and voice your SUPPORT for the changes planned. There is a meeting on 4/29, Saturday, at the ROC about a proposal for Georgia & Upshur where the Shell station sits. Mark my word: There are some vocal people who hysterically don't want ANY changes on Georgia Avenue. They are small in number but LOUD. We need to hear from you at these meetings. I know seniors and newcomers who are fed up with Georgia Avenue being a spine of crime and want changes. More suggestions: Jump on your ANC commissioners to tell them to help clean-up the liquor stores that sell drug paraphenalia, AND please help with this effort yourself. (The narcotics squad cops know which ones do.) Put pressure on local businesses that enable the illegal drug dealing and related gun violence: MPD recently arrested an employee of the barber shop on the 200 block of Upshur Street for selling cocaine out of the place.
Joe Martin |
April 21, 2006 at 02:47 PM
First, I must say that I am confused about how this deal could go through (It seems Jim Graham wasn’t even aware of it!) without any public awareness or discussion, when other, smaller establishments such as Domku, Temperance Hall, and the fabled bakery on Upshur St. have had their great dramas played out over list-serves, blogs, community bulletins, etc. when they have tried to open.
Second, regardless of how responsible the shelter is, I believe if the shelter moves in, our already underserved neighborhood loses, because where there is a shelter, there will not be one or more of the many other retail possibilities that could be there. We already have to leave the neighborhood for most of the shopping and activities that we engage in day-to-day.
Finally, in terms of whether the shelter will slow or undermine other development nearby, I am not sure our area along Georgia Ave. is a fair comparison to the 14th St & R St area. 14th & R St. can’t help but be in demand for residential and retail development because it is central to everything in the city, and is a lot closer to downtown. We in Petworth and Park View etc. are enough out of the way that getting positive development is more tenuous and less certain.
April 21, 2006 at 01:57 PM
OK, there's something up here that's weird. Jim Graham's press release, in stating that he's an advocate for the homeless, cites his support for La Casa's "state of the art" shelter on Irving Street, across from the new Target.
Problem is: The facility he says he worked hard to build (past tense) hasn't been built. It's planned as part of a new development on Irving Street, across from the new Target (which is just starting to become a hole in the ground right now). At the very least, the facility is out of luck for a temporary facility until the new facility gets built; at worse, the location that Graham apparently supported for them isn't a guarantee. There's an article about this at: http://www.streetsense.org/articles/article_0306lacasa.jsp
April 21, 2006 at 01:30 PM
My email never implied if I was for or against the homeless shelter. I merely stated that if you (Petworth residents) are concerned one way or the other, then contact Jim Graham. I also never implied if I was a fan of Jim Graham - but he is the elected official who is the voice of district 1. In fact I purposefully kept my opinions to myself and sent them to the appropriate people.
April 21, 2006 at 01:15 PM
Jim Graham's Press Release
CM Graham's statement on the Central Union Mission
I am a strong advocate for the homeless. Indeed, I have worked very hard to fund and build La Casa, a state of the art homeless facility on the 1400 block of Irving, just across from the new Target. My record on these issues is well-established.
But there are special issues involved in this relocation.
Lower Georgia Avenue is an area that is just starting to turn around after decades of neglect by the city and minimal economic investment. This shelter, while providing essential services to people in need, would not be a good fit in its proposed location.
This is not a situation where a program is in search of a location. They have a location, and a good one. There is every reasion why this important program should remain in its current location at 14th and R Streets, NW. The property the Mission owns is more than adequate for additional development and rehabilitation.
I should also note that the management Central Union Mission did not contact me about their plans. When I got wind of this several weeks ago, I called them in opposition and notified the community. We have already had several meetings, and I am moving up a meeting with Central Union that was originally scheduled for May.
I am doing all of this, and welcome your participation and ideas.
April 21, 2006 at 01:15 PM
The Artist's rendition fails to incorporate the surrounding Strip Club and liquor stores.
April 21, 2006 at 01:04 PM
Link to "artist's rendition" of proposed new building for the Central Union Mission:
April 21, 2006 at 12:44 PM
Question for Mr. Graham: What's wrong with a homeless shelter selling valuable real estate to make money to build a better shelter?
Joe Martin |
April 21, 2006 at 12:19 PM
A thought on Jim Graham: Writing him is fine-and-dandy, but it should be noted that in the Post article, he seemed pretty decided. In fact, I thought his quotes were reasonably disgusting. After claiming to be an advocate of the homeless, he said that the Central Union Mission is "cashing in" on a "get rick quick scheme" to "have more money." I am ALWAYS suspicious when a politician claims to know better about what's good for the homeless than the homeless advocates. In any case, he believes that should stay where they are, at least that's what the Post reports. So, if you think they should stay on 14th Street and shouldn't come to Georgia Avenue, then you already have your ally in that great "advocate for the homeless," Jim Graham.
April 21, 2006 at 11:50 AM
FYI: I sent an email to Jim Graham, who serves District 1 - which is where the homeless shelter would possibly be located. He replied to my thoughts within one day. I encourage all of you to write to him whether you are for or against the relocation of the shelter to Georgia Ave. The only way our elected officials know how we feel is to tell them. So write to him and tell him your thoughts, give him ideas, suggestions, other locations - whatever you believe, let him him know so he may better represent his constituants!
April 21, 2006 at 08:38 AM
I thought I would add this story from Chattanooga about not only of a homeless services campus done right (a farmers market, street level businesses, a catalyst for development) but of a community that is WELCOMING the development. (And Chattanooga is not a model for redevelopment on par with Portland, OR.) There is way for the community and the mission to do this right. Find the article here. http://www.timesfreepress.com/QuickHeadlines.asp?sec=l&URL=http%3A%2F%2Fepaper%2Ewehco%2Ecom%2FWebChannel%2FShowStory%2Easp%3FPath%3DChatTFPress%2F2006%2F04%2F21%26ID%3DAr01101
April 21, 2006 at 08:07 AM
A quick note, I switched the order of comments to newest at the top. Seems like it'd be more user-friendly, please let me know if not.
By the way, the homeless shelter issue made channel 7's 5 o'clock news today.
April 21, 2006 at 12:39 AM
I recieved this email from David Treadwell at the Mission:
I would love to have you tour our building. We are not a shelter. We include a shelter among the many services we bring to a community. When we arrived on 14th St. it was the sin capital of Washington and now it is a gentrified, prosperous, even affluent area. The people who should be concerned about Central Union Mission are the strip club and the liquor store because we're going to offer a safe, warm, free, wholesome alternative. One of our specialties is turning men from lives of debauchery into Christian gentlemen. We don't always succeed, but even those who fail are well behaved while they are with us. When we moved to our current location, the liquor store across the street soon closed its doors and the prostitutes found other corners to work. We serve more children than men and 47% of the people we serve are from Ward 1. Our largest service is not our ministry to men, its our food and community outreach work. We will also offer medical and dental clinics for people in need: women, children or men. We are planning a cafe, run by our staff and men in our transformation program, for our frontage on Georgia Avenue, and we intend to give away about $1 million worth of food each year. We bring security to the neighborhood because those who live with us are "locked in" at night. When a man enters our building at 4:00 p.m. as our guest, he does not leave until after breakfast the next morning. Our night supervisors will have cameras on our sidewalks and will quickly report any suspicious activity in the neighborhood to the police. We too have been stolen from, "graffitied," had windows broken and been threatened but these are not our Mission men; these are the men who need what the Mission offer, and sometimes they later recognize that and come to us for our transforming work. Our men look on us as a church and behave accordingly - with exceptions, who aren't allowed to return. But we persevere and move forward to improve the community.
As you focus in on specific concerns based on your perception of the Mission, please contact me. I will either tell you what we do to handle your area of concern or I will go to work to do my best to incorporate a solution into our planning. Most of our current neighbors will report that we work hard at being a good neighbor.
April 20, 2006 at 05:41 PM
If anyone plans or learns of a meeting with Union Mission, please post the details here, so we can all attend and learn more.
April 20, 2006 at 05:36 PM
People should also remember that if the shelter were located on Georgia Avenue, it isn't the same shelter currently located on 14th Street. They're making a lot of money on the sale, and apparently plan to build a state-of-the-art facility. These things can be done well, and have been done well in other places. I remember many years back, there were a great deal of complaints about the building Luther Place Church was constructing at the time on 14th Street to house a number of their missions to disadvantaged people. There was an outrage, based in part on the notion that it would invite the homeless to the neighborhood (which, in that case, was particularly laughable, as the homeless were already there). What they ended up building, I think, is an asset to the neighborhood. It's not exactly the same thing, but before saying "no," it might be prudent to look at what the exact proposal will be.
April 20, 2006 at 05:17 PM
No. My cynical humor is in evidence.
Joe Martin |
April 20, 2006 at 03:45 PM
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