D.C. Mayor Marion Barry announced last night that the city is taking a series of steps to expand and improve shelters for the homeless, including a "summit meeting" with concerned groups to discuss a private-public partnership on behalf of the homeless.
The mayor, in a statement released last night, also said that in the next month, the city will take inventory of facilities appropriate for emergency shelters and find how much it will cost to renovate them. City capital improvement funds will be used for necessary renovations, he said.
Officials in the District's Department of Human Services said, however, that they could not provide any goals or figures for the possible expansion of available shelter facilities.
"I can't say" that the inventory will necessarily lead to any specific increase in beds available, said Human Services Director David E. Rivers.
Although he said that the situation could change "once we put a plan together," he said he was "not aware" at present of any specific amount of money targeted for expanding shelter facilities.
In last night's announcement, the mayor listed a number of efforts aimed at raising community awareness about the homeless and expanding services. One reason that more specific measures have not been proposed, he said, is that the city is still awaiting the results of a survey to determine the exact number of homeless people here.
Barry said he will call "a summit meeting of church leaders, shelter providers, civic leaders and others early next month to discuss a public-private partnership to address the needs of the homeless.
"Government should not and cannot do everything. We have to reach out to all those that can assist . . . . "
Last Tuesday, the mayor's office conducted a meeting that was attended by 56 service-providers and government officials.
The mayor said yesterday that the Office of Emergency Shelter and Support Services will develop a comprehensive program for women's shelters within 60 days.
He also said that the Department of Human Services will develop a comprehensive mental health service assessment and delivery system for the homeless.
In addition, officials said the city has already held in Ward 3 the first of a series of public meetings on the homeless to be held in each of the city's eight wards.
Three more meetings, designed to get community ideas, were set for next week, but they have been postponed, probably until next month, a Human Services spokesman said last night.