Remaining Homeless Moved Out of Shelter
Activists Say Other Spaces Are Needed

By David Nakamura
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, September 27, 2008

The D.C. government moved the final men out of the Franklin School shelter yesterday, provoking an outcry from activists who said Mayor Adrian M. Fenty has not provided enough alternative places for the homeless to go.

Members of the Committee to Save Franklin Shelter said city officials began removing the remaining shelter residents at 7 a.m., before workers came to pack up beds and other furniture and supplies.

The Fenty administration had announced plans to close the shelter, at 13th and K streets NW, by next Wednesday. But activists and some homeless men decried the move, saying the city needs to provide a downtown shelter.

The D.C. Council passed emergency legislation mandating that the shelter remain open until the mayor provides a detailed plan on how he will house those who use the shelter and provide them with job training, mental health care and other social services.

"People were left with their belongings on the street," said Jennifer Kirby, a member of the shelter committee. "They've been exiled to shelters far from downtown, where upon arrival they find the shelters too full, and there's no transportation back to downtown where people have jobs."

Two weeks ago, the city moved 53 people from the shelter into apartments. Under the city's new Housing First program, District officials said they plan to place about 2,500 homeless people into a program that provides permanent housing with support services by the end of fiscal 2009.

But the council has complained that Fenty (D) hasn't provided details.

Council member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6), chairman of the Human Services Committee, said he is "closely monitoring" the situation at the Franklin shelter.

Wells said that the council has yet to receive the information it requested from Fenty and that he expects the shelter to be open Monday, unless the mayor complies with the new law and provides more information. "There is no reason to expect that the mayor will veto the law," Wells said.

In a statement, Fenty said: "Today, the administration is excited to announce it has housed more than 300 long-term shelter residents. We are currently in the process of preparing a summary illustrating the fulfillment of the Mayor's commitment to provide permanent supportive housing for our homeless neighbors, instead of placing them in a poor shelter environment."

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