The District of Columbia's welfare agency formally acceded last night to an eight-point demand by the Community for Creative Non-Violence to provide more emergency night shelter space for homeless "street people" and relax screening procedures at the shelters.
Albert P. Russo, director of the city's Department of Human Resources, agreed to implement the eight measures for at least a 30-day experimental period, starting tomorrow. He praised many of the measures that CCNV says are calculated to eliminate bureaucratic restrictions that now turn away many hard-core indigents at city-run shelters.
CCNV members who met with Russo declared the agreement a victory. "We got DHR to say housing is a basic human right," CCNV spokesman Mitch Snyder said.
DHR officials said privately that the city already practices two key proposals by CCNV-elimination of identification and shower requirements for unwilling tenants-and that Russo's agreement merely formalizes the practices.
The formal DHR agreement includes these element:
Giving name, last fixed address and Social Security number will be optional. Other screening requirements, such as income verification, will be eliminated.
Mandatory showers will be discontinued. Those refusing showers will be transported to the privately run Gospel Mission where showers are not required.
Intake workers at DHR's Blair School Shelter for men at 6th and I Streets NE will limit the nightly population to 150. Any surplus will go to Pierce School, Another Vacant D.C. school building at 1jth and G Streets NE. DHR authorities say the two schools can accommodate at least 400 persons.
DHR will reopen a former shelter at 456 C St. NW as a pickup point for homeless people wanting to go to Blair shelter or the women's shelter at Madison School, 10th and G streets NE, operated on contract by the House of Ruth.
An oversight committee of local residents, street people and private church and welfare volunteers will monitor the DHR shelter program to assure that homeless people are not turned away.
DHR officials estimate that 400 to 50 persons use cityand privately operated emergency shelters each night at this time of year. CCNV claims there is a large but undetermined number of street people who refuse to use existing shelters and sleep instead on heating grates and in abandoned buildings.
In a media campaign to dramatize the plight of what they say are hundreds of homeless derelicts and street wanderers in the city, CCNV members led scores of indigents into a section of the National Visitor Center adjacent to Union Station for an impromptu nine-day stay earlier this month.
Organizers imposed no screening procedures and claimed that numerous hard-core street people, who customarily refuse to use city-run shelters, came to the visitor center. Federal authorities closed the operation last Saturday, citing increased health and public safety hazards.