The House yesterday overcame sharp criticism of the tactics of advocate for the homeless Mitch Snyder to move to expedite renovation of the shelter Snyder and his group operate near Capitol Hill.
After defeating by one vote an amendment that would have prohibited any political activity in the shelter, the House voted 242 to 116 to transfer to the D.C. government jursidiction over -- but not title to -- the dilapidated shelter at 425 Second St. NW.
The House deliberations were characterized by frequent criticism of Snyder and the Community for Creative Non-Violence, focusing on the organization's acknowledged decision not to register as a federal tax-exempt organization but not to pay individual income taxes.
Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) accused Snyder of placing himself "above the law" and trying to "blackmail the Congress" through his latest fast.
Rep. E. Clay Shaw Jr. (R-Fla.) termed Snyder "a masochist who influences government by threatening to starve himself."
Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) came to Snyder's defense, telling the Republicans that if they were upset with the situation they should have told "your president" not to accede to Snyder's tactics and instead allow Snyder to die.
The transfer was one of several steps needed to launch renovation of the three-story building, which is valued at about $23 million and has housed as many as 1,000 homeless persons.
On Sunday, Snyder and 26 others began a fast to force the Reagan administration to release $5 million in rehabilitation funds, saying that the refurbishing must begin soon if it is to be finished by winter. They suspended the fast late Wednesday after the White House agreed to give CCNV $965,000 of the money, pending transfer of the property to the D.C. government.
The Senate has passed legislation transferring the title of the building to the city. The bills now go to a conference committee where a compromise must be reached.
Rep. Cardiss Collins (D-Ill.), head of the government activities and transportation subcommittee, said she is optimistic that the city government will accept the more stringent provision in the House bill.
Snyder said he was "glad the House has acted" even though "it took about two or three weeks longer than it should have."
Because the city said it preferred a title transfer, he said the House action is "in a sense an empty gesture."