A federal judge blocked the District government again yesterday from closing the Hartford Street Family Shelter after he heard evidence that serious fire hazards exist at two other emergency shelters that have been proposed as housing for the families involved.
U.S. District Judge Louis F. Oberdorfer said in a written order that the evidence of "potential life-threatening risks" at both the Parkside Family Shelter at 13th and I streets NW and at the P Street Shelter in Northwest Washington posed a "sufficient threat" to the families to warrant a preliminary court order barring any transfer of the families from Hartford Street to the other locations.
Oberdorfer made no formal finding on whether the fire hazards existed. Rather, he said, enough doubts were raised through the evidence to stop any transfers for now.
City lawyers presented evidence to dispute the existence of fire hazards at Parkside, but they had no expert testimony to answer charges of such violence at P Street, Oberdorfer noted.
The Hartford Street Shelter in Southeast Washington is an emergency home for homeless and destitute families that is run by the Department of Human Services. It is currently occupied by six adults and 15 children. The city contends it could save $300,000 if the shelter were closed.