Sullivan said shelter officials wanted a list of everyone she’s lived with in the past three years before they’d let her and her baby in while it was snowing outside. So she gave them that and the intake counselors called those people — be they abusive boyfriends or angry landlords — “no less than 20 times.”
Sullivan was lucky. After all those calls, she was given an army cot in the old hospital cafeteria, partitioned off with temporary walls that don’t reach the ceilings, MASH unit style.
(Petula Dvorak/The Washington Post) - Elayshia Brown (left), 6 months, shares a stroller for warmth with another baby living in the District's shelter for homeless families on Friday. Elayshia's mother, Asia Brown, lost her apartment in January and wound up in the abandoned hospital, where a record of nearly 600 children are now being housed.
Nonprofit says it is difficult for a family to claim a bed unless a lawyer intervenes with city officials.
The mayor says he’ll use an expected increase in future revenue to pay for social service programs and raises.
No, this is not a world full of innocents. The D.C. General shelter is a showcase of bad decisions, social ills and generations of defeat.
Outside I met Asia Brown, who at 19 has more children than I do. Her 5-year-old hasn’t been in school since she got to the shelter in January. She’s waiting for paperwork to let him go to a nearby school on Capitol Hill. She also has a 2-year-old and a 6-month-old, who was squeezed into a stroller, sharing warmth with another homeless 2-month-old under a pink-yellow-and-blue baby blanket. Babies having babies.
Brown wants to get her GED and go to college, she told me. I hope she can make it, but the odds are against her.
Who pays if she doesn’t succeed? The poor kids, and the taxpayers who will have to pick up the pieces of their broken lives.
It’s almost like some bizarre “Hunger Games” alternate reality. You go 17 blocks from the Capitol, from the spot where the world went haywire because Beyonce lip-synced the national anthem, and there are cold children playing on trash-strewn concrete, fathers who can’t find work and mothers who can’t find hope.
It’s like Cindy Adams’s vision of the “crapital” come to life, and all we want to do is celebrate all the nice new restaurants and condos downtown. And look! We have cool red bikes!
These children didn’t ask to be homeless. This city needs to take ownership of this problem, come together and figure out how we can help these 600 young souls. They are an asset far more precious than any sports franchise, whatever its name.
Follow me on Twitter at @petulad. To read previous columns, go to washingtopost.com/dvorak.