Are NIMBYs who want to stop a new homeless shelter from locating on Anacostia’s main street justified?
It’s a tough question. One of the greatest lessons learned from America’s urban ghetto period in the late 20th Century was that if too many poor people are clustered together in a single area, that area becomes almost impossible for any of them to escape. Upward social mobility requires a mix of incomes. The line between providing services where they’re needed most and sending a neighborhood spiraling down is a difficult one to place.
And so, I think Greater Greater Washington contributor Veronica Davis is justified when she says “plans to put a homeless shelter in the middle of the business district, especially one without any ground-floor retail component, would impede Historic Anacostia’s progress.”
Historic Anacostia has been one of the city’s worst ghettos for decades, but these days it is improving, and if those improvements are to continue, it’s important that key locations along the commercial main street (Good Hope Road) be allowed to become storefronts. If they aren’t, Anacostia might backslide into a difficult-to-escape poor enclave.
But even if all that is true, the shelter has got to go someplace, and should be convenient for its users, which are in Historic Anacostia. Therefore it isn’t good enough for opponents of the plan to just say “no.” They’re obligated to propose a reasonable alternative.
[Continue reading Dan Malouff’s post at BeyondDC.]
Dan Malouff is an Arlington County transportation planner who blogs independently at BeyondDC.com. The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.