Letter to the Editor

Refusing shelter to those in need in D.C. cannot be the answer

Regarding the Feb. 20 Metro article “Gray seeks to curb influx into homeless shelters”:

Does D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) honestly believe that homeless parents would opt to move their families into a hotel or a shelter if they had other options?

The District used to have a law requiring the city to provide shelter for the homeless. Now the city is required to do so only when the temperature drops below 32 degrees. This winter’s severe cold, combined with the city’s increasing wealth gap and decrease in affordable housing, has revealed that the city is ill-equipped to manage the growing number of homeless families. The Gray administration’s answer to this? “We do not believe that there is a family homeless crisis,” said chief of staff Chris Murphy. “We think there is a crisis of too many families in shelters.” By this logic, the problem is solved by turning families away.

It is now up to the D.C. Council to consider the mayor’s proposal that families determined to have other options be limited to 24 hours of city-funded shelter, regardless of below-freezing temperatures. While there is no easy solution to this problem, refusing shelter to children and their parents cannot possibly be the right answer.

Sarah Shoenfeld, Washington

 
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