The District's Department of Human Resources promised yesterday to house every homeless woman displaced by the closing Thursday of the city owned, volunteer-run Women's Shelter at 456-458 C St. NW.
DHR Director Albert Russo told a news conference yesterday the women would be provided a place to sleep either at the House of Ruth at 651 10th St. NE. or in area hotels.
The conference followed arrests yesterday morning of seven shelter volunteers and residents for unlawful entry at the District Building. The seven women had staged a sit-in at the Mayor's office to protest the shelter closing.
Russo said the buildings were closed after "intensive soul searching by the District government.
"We want to assure every woman who is homeless that at least some attempt will be made to address [their] . . . problems," he said.
The city's Social Rehabilitation Administration headquarters at 122 C St, NW will be open and staffed 24 hours a day until July 8 to accommodate the homeless women, Russo said.
The Women's Shelter Coordinating Committee, a volunteer group which has run the shelter since January, however, said more is needed for the women than emergency housing.
Elaine Lamy, a spokesman for the group, questioned Russo at the news conference and told reporters later that the women need a permanent structure in which to eat and sleep with no questions asked.
She said the volunteers have offered to finance such an operation if the district will provide some sort of building, but said the District has been unwilling to do so.
Russo blamed the impasse on unspecified "philosophical differences" between the city and the volunteers.
DHR official Milton Douglas says the city arranged food and housing for 40 of the shelter women at area hotels and at the House of Ruth Thursday night, at a total cost of $800.
Three women who reported to the DHR office rejected the agency's offers for help officials said, and drifted off into the streets with their shopping bags. CAPTION: Picture, Former resident of Women's Shelter carries belongings in five shopping bags. By Linda Wheeler - The Washington Post