A temporary shelter for the homeless operated in Anacostia by the D.C. Coalition for the Homeless will close on schedule today despite the group's last-minute request that the federal government permit it to remain open 60 days after its planned shutdown, federal officials said yesterday.
Elisabeth Huguenin, president of the coalition, and Mitch Snyder, leader of the Community for Creative Non-Violence, had asked for an extension of the shelter's deadline on the grounds that up to 150 homeless men would be rousted from the facility with no place to go.
The coalition, in a $3.7 million grant contract with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, agreed last fall to close the controversial shelter today but, in a letter delivered Monday to Wayne Stanton, administrator of the HHS family support administration, the group appealed for more time to relocate residents of the Anacostia shelter.
"I have told Mrs. Huguenin that we meant them to live up to the agreement to evacuate the facility by tomorrow, April 30," Stanton said yesterday.
It was unclear yesterday whether any of the temporary facility's residents would find themselves without shelter. James Edward Mercer, an attorney for the coalition, said 189 persons stayed at the shelter Monday night but that coalition officials expected to have relocated all of them by last night.
Late last night all but a few residents of the shelter had been transferred to coalition-run shelters and city facilities. Stragglers gathered around the shelter's entrance awaiting vans to take them to other shelter locations, and a few men drifted into the night with their belongings slung over their shoulders, saying they would sleep in the city's parks.
Shelter residents were being transferred to three new shelters opened by the coalition in the past week, at 1333 Emerson St. NW, 4326 14th St. NW and 1318 Park Rd. NW, he said. Three additional shelters are expected to open in 30 days, Mercer added.
Audrey Rowe, D.C. commissioner of social services, said yesterday that the city is planning to add up to 95 additional beds to three city-run shelters.
Snyder, in a news conference yesterday, appealed to the federal government to reverse its decision to close the shelter on schedule, asserting that it is "not fair" to the Anacostia shelter residents. The CCNV shelter at 425 Second St. NW has absorbed many former residents of the Anacostia shelter who have left in anticipation of its closing, he said.
"We are not in a position to absorb any more," he said.
Federal officials gave the $3.7 million contract to the coalition last year to set up an alternative shelter to the CCNV facility after HHS officials and Snyder failed to agree on a renovation plan for the dilapidated CCNV shelter. The previous fall, after a hunger strike by Snyder, President Reagan had promised to remodel the shelter, but the CCNV leader and U.S. officials disagreed on the cost and extent of the renovation.
Last month, after a second hunger strike by Snyder, the federal government agreed to turn over the building to the city for Snyder's use and to provide $5 million for renovations.
Snyder said yesterday that federal officials appear now to have abandoned the coalition in the wake of reports in the past month of beatings of residents by staff and financial improprieties by coalition members.
"We are dealing now with their mess," Snyder said.
Huguenin said yesterday she was disappointed by the decision of the federal government but was hopeful that the District government would find space for any shelter residents who are displaced.