Deputy Mayor Neil O. Albert postponed the changeover of an emergency homeless shelter in Eckington into a transitional shelter exclusively for employed homeless men after, he said, he found plans for the men now at the shelter to be inadequate.
The conversion was to have begun today under a proposal city officials announced in July to make Emery House on Lincoln Road NE the city's first shelter exclusively for the working homeless. The Department of Human Services was responsible for referring the homeless unemployed men at Emery to other city shelters.
But Albert said the relocation plan was not coherent enough to garner his approval. "I needed to see specifically where each person who would be affected at Emery would move to and which services would follow them . . . and all of that wasn't clear," he said this week.
Albert did not give a date for when the shelter transition would take place, saying it would depend on work by the department. Since it opened in 1986 as a temporary shelter, Emery has drawn opposition from residents because of its location next to the Matthew G. Emery Elementary School. The building now is being used both as an emergency shelter and a for smaller transition program for homeless men with jobs. The changeover would expand the current 40-bed transition program to 100 beds.
In recent months, members of the Eckington Civic Association have complained to city leaders about trash, crime and other social problems surrounding the shelter and appealed to city leaders to move it or make other changes.
Several members of the association and other residents welcomed the planned change from an emergency facility with a more transient population to a transitional program for homeless men with jobs.
Eartha Isaac, president of the association, said that she believed the delay was just a hiccup in the process and that she trusted Albert to make the promised changes at the shelter.
"We're still looking for this transition to take place as soon as possible; that's a vital issue. It's a commitment that was made by the city, and it's a commitment that we intend to see kept," Isaac said.