Mayor Marion Barry should assume responsibility for the District's homeless and use the money available in 33 federal programs to finance the effort, the federal government told Barry in a strongly worded letter released yesterday.
"The city has assumed an inflexible 'reject and criticize' posture," wrote C. McClain Haddow, chief of staff of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. "There has been no good faith response to our proposal."
Haddow sent the seven-page letter in response to two letters from the mayor criticizing the govenment's plan to open a new temporary shelter for the homeless in Anacostia. The mayor disavowed any responsibility for dealing with homeless people who currently are staying at a run-down Second Street NW facility, operated by the Community for Creative Non-Violence (CCNV), that the federal government wants to close.
Barry said yesterday he resented the letter's suggestion that the city's position is a political one. "No amount of rhetoric, whether it be seven or 50 pages, can negate the federal government's social contract with the CCNV."
In a related development, Haddow said the federal government has "intelligence" that residents of the temporary shelter at 425 Second St. NW have weapons and explosives and have "bunkered down on the third floor" in an attempt to stay in the building.
The government says it will soon open a temporary 600-bed shelter in Anacostia to house the residents in the Second Street facility.
Mitch Snyder, CCNV director, denied yesterday that any weapons or explosives are in the shelter, but said the building was "fortified" in August in response to an earlier federal attempt to close the facility.
"We don't want violent confrontation," Haddow said.
But if residents refuse to leave the Second Street shelter after a "reasonable" time after the new shelter opens, "we will take nonconfrontational action to make the Second and D [shelter] even more unusable," Haddow said.
This would include asking the General Services Administration to turn off the utilities, he said.