An advisory commission to Mayor Marion Barry has recommended a new policy of forcibly removing homeless people from the streets and taking them to city shelters when the weather goes below freezing.
The mayor is considering the proposal, along with all other recommendations presented yesterday by his Commission on Homelessness, press spokeswoman Annette Samuels said.
Samuels said the mayor generally agrees with all of the commission's recommendations, but still must look into whether the city can move homeless people to shelters if they don't want to go. The report said this should be done by police or other designated city officials.
The Rev. John Steinbruck of Luther Place Memorial Church, chairman of the commission, said such actions are justified to keep people from freezing to death, likening it to preventing a suicide. The city also could provide blankets or insulated suits to street people who refuse shelter, the report said.
The mayor agreed to keep the Blair and Pierce shelters, which are dormitory-style facilities for homeless men run under city contract, open this summer if the private sector can raise the $100,000 needed, Steinbruck said after yesterday's meeting. Some of this will come in the form of volunteers to operate the shelters, he said.
The mayor's fiscal 1984 budget had included a recommendation that the men's shelters be closed during summer months starting in 1984. No commitment was made for next year, but "the attitude is being set" for the future, Steinbruck said.
Steinbruck said he also made a plea for the old Bundy school, which was used this winter as a men's shelter, to be made available temporarily as a women's shelter this summer but got no commitment on it.
Other recommendations in the report include designating pickup points around the city to transport people to shelters, doing more to eliminate lice infestations from city shelters and keeping women's facilities open 24 hours a day.
It also said the mayor should direct the police to respond immediately to calls for help from shelter providers, because some people using the shelters may be unstable or violent.