The National Coalition for the Homeless filed suit here yesterday against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services seeking "adequate alternative shelter" for 200 men who were forced from the Anacostia shelter when it was closed April 30.
The suit, filed in U.S. District Court, also seeks more than $2 million in damages for the men.
"Our primary concern is to make certain that people who used to stay at the Anacostia shelter are not on the streets or staying in the basements of other shelters," said Maria Foscarinis of the national coalition.
She said the current suit, which does not directly involve the unrelated D.C. Coalition for the Homeless that operated the Anacostia shelter, arises partly from the long-standing legal battle over the shelter for the homeless at 425 Second St. NW, operated by the Community for Creative Non-Violence.
As part of a lawsuit last year that gave the government the right to close the Second Street shelter, U.S. District Judge Charles R. Richey required residents to be relocated and long-term plans made for their housing.
"In a very hypocritical move, what the government has done is kick people out in the middle of the night without having permanent alternative shelter," Foscarinis said.
She said many residents have returned to the Second Street shelter, which HHS officials said in court was unfit for human habitation. Under a subsequent agreement with CCNV leader Mitch Snyder, the Reagan administration said it would give his organization $5 million to renovate the structure, but tied release of the money to pending congressional action that would transfer ownership of the land and building.
An HHS spokeswoman said the government's only response to the suit would be in court.