D.C. Mayor Marion Barry cut the ribbon yesterday in the Kenilworth neighborhood in Northeast on a recreational vehicle turned Mobile City Hall that soon will roam the quadrants of the city taking District services closer to District residents.
The Mobile City Hall will allow residents to get information on services, including emergency assistance, job training, housing, day care and welfare. It will help them file complaints without the frustration of traveling downtown or being put on hold when they call city agencies.
Anita Bonds, general assistant to Barry, said the program is "an extension of the mayor -- on wheels."
"My philosophy is to make government responsive to the needs of the citizens," Barry said. "This is not my government; this is your government."
About 30 residents who gathered yesterday morning beneath overcast skies outside the Kenilworth-Parkside Community Center on Quarles Street NE climbed aboard the Mobile City Hall and looked around, as did residents at two other stops it made during its day of unveiling.
"Gosh, it's nice," said Michele Copeland, 28, as she walked through the vehicle. "I hate the congestion of downtown. Every time I go to that place, I get a ticket. It would be much more efficient and convenient to not have to go through that stuff."
Residents who have problems they want to clear up right away through the new service will have to wait a few days longer, though. It won't be fully operational for perhaps a week, when its computer system is installed, said Curtis Massey, the project's coordinator.
The computers will give the Mobile City Hall's five staff members immediate access to the departments of Public Works, Employment Services, Housing and Community Development, and Public and Assisted Housing, and the Office of Emergency Preparedness.
When the vehicle is fully equipped, it will be stationed on a rotating basis at 16 locations, most of them in Wards 7 and 8, from 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Saturdays.
LaVergne Marshall, 63, who lives on Alabama Avenue SE, attended a reception for the Mobile City Hall. "Citizens, old and young, cannot complain that services are not available to them," she said. "The onus is on them now."