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Posted at 11:29 AM ET, 10/07/2008

Expletives Over Easy

The controversial Franklin Shelter issue exploded into an expletive-filled argument over breakfast this morning before D.C. Council members went into a legislative meeting where Council member Marion Barry plans to introduce emergency legislation that would require beds for the homeless in the downtown business area.

Downtown is in Ward 2. That's Jack Evans's territory.

He said he did not understand why some of his colleagues are interested in reopening a "piece of....shelter." (Fill in the blanks.)

"Is this move about you and the mayor or is this about this shelter?" Evans asked Barry. He answered himself that he believed it is "the former."

In an interview, Barry defended his legislation, "Homelessness is a national issue, it is a city-wide issue," he said. "For anyone saying this is a personal issue is out of their damn mind."

He said that he introduced the legislation and placed in it boundaries because the homeless people need to be downtown so their livelihood depends on begging. (He is, however, pulling the legislation from today's agenda as council members try to work out disagreements among each other and with the administration.)

"Homeless people during the day they panhandle. If they are moved to the Martin Luther King shelter, there is no people out there to panhandle," Barry said. "Most of us support Housing First, low-barrier shelter, the reality (is) we have not seen the mayor's plan. The mayor thumbs his nose at the council. This is a human issue."

During the breakfast, Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D) and others also expressed concern that Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) did not provide members with details of his plan, particularly the addresses to which 300 homeless have been moved.

Council member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6), chairman of the Committee on Human Services, said he has received addresses from the providers that are under contract with the city to relocate the homeless and assist them.

He said he is trying to weigh some council members' concerns with what he sees as a program that could better the homeless. Franklin Shelter "did not function like an emergency shelter," he said. "It functioned like a place to live."

It was the argument that Evans was trying to make, saying Franklin has been a failure in terms of helping to end homelessness.

Evans also jumped on other council members for "making speeches at the shelter," which is at 13th and K streets NW. D.C. Council member Yvette M. Alexander (D-Ward 7) crossed the Anacostia River on behalf of the homeless, which are being moved into apartments in her ward as part of the mayor's plan to put them in permanent housing.

He said the late Council Chairman John A. Wilson would have said, "Stop @**@ing with my @**@."

After the breakfast, Evans said he wanted to be quoted accurately. "Don't put any dot, dot, dots," he said.

Staff writer Hamil R. Harris contributed to this report.

By Nikita R Stewart  |  11:29 AM ET, 10/07/2008

Categories:  D.C. Council

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