The City Council yesterday expressed its opposition to Mayor Marion Barry's plan for evicting illegal District public housing residents by voting to require that Barry submit a plan and a funding request to the council before beginning the evictions.
The council members also voted to require that the mayor come to them with a proposal for housing those he displaces by the evictions if they cannot afford to go to the private market.
Dwight S. Cropp, Barry's director of intergovernmental relations, said his initial reading of the council's action was that the mayor could still carry out some evictions without the council's approval if he wished to do so. Barry administration housing officials could not be reached for comment.
Several council members said they are concerned that evicting people living in public housing would simply lead to more homelessness and that they believe the city's housing department should focus its efforts on creating more low-income housing.
Barry announced last week that thousands of people living illegally with family members and friends in public housing would have to leave, because they cost the city money in utility bills and wear and tear to overcrowded apartments.
Barry's administration originally estimated that in addition to about 60,000 legal residents in public housing, an additional 40,000 are there illegally. Two days later, however, Barry said that the 40,000 figure was about 10 times too high and that public housing residents would be given time to add names to their leases before illegal tenants are asked to move.
The mayor said later he had told the U.S. Marshals Service, which carries out evictions in the District, that the city would pay for the overtime necessary for the additional evictions.
"It is an American tradition that you let members of your family live with you if they have no place to go," council member John A. Wilson (D-Ward 2) said in an impassioned speech during consideration of the proposal. "It's very unfortunate that politicians in this city can't find anybody to dump on but poor people."
Wilson charged that the council has approved legislation to help relatively well-off people buy housing but has done little for low-income people who cannot afford the city's high rents.
But council member John Ray (D-At Large) accused his colleagues of merely trying to get political mileage out of the issue. If they cared about building new low-income housing or creating more emergency shelters for the homeless, he said, members could propose legislation to do so.
The amendment, offered by council member Frank Smith (D-Ward 1), was approved by voice vote and added to the fiscal 1986 supplemental budget. It states that if the mayor wants to pay for "extraordinary evictions . . . based solely on excessive numbers" of persons occupying a unit, he would have to submit to the council a request with his proposed criteria for evicting people and a plan for housing persons displaced by the evictions.
Barry aide Cropp said he believed the mayor could carry out evictions by deeming them "ordinary" and using standard procedures, but did not offer a definitive interpretation of the council's action.
The $2.3 billion supplemental budget itself was given final approval by voice vote with only a few changes from the mayor's request, sent to the council May 15, but not before some members got into a squabble over which areas of the city need the most overtime police work.
Council member Wilhelmina Rolark (D-Ward 8), who heads the council's Judiciary Committee, included language in the committee's report to require that police put more of its overtime funds into the 7th District in Anacostia to fight drug trafficking and less in the inner-city 1st District.
Rolark included figures that showed that more than a third of the police department's discretionary overtime used so far this year had gone to the 1st District, primarily for the mayor's special project to fight cocaine trafficking on the notorious Hanover Place NW.
The committee report had set a ceiling on overtime that could be used in the 2nd District, which includes Georgetown, on the theory that police there were being used primarily to write parking tickets while they could be fighting violent crime in other areas.
Wilson, who represents Georgetown, called that rationale "poppycock" and said crowd control in the neighborhood is an important police function. The council later removed the police overtime ceiling for that district.