D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) delivers the 2016 State of the District address on March 22. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)

IT HAS been two years since Relisha Rudd’s disappearance brought attention to the deplorable conditions endured by children and their families at the homeless shelter at the former D.C. General Hospital. Ever since, city leaders have spoken with one voice about the need to shut the notorious complex as quickly as possible. But more than lip service will be needed if that is to be accomplished. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) has demonstrated she is prepared to provide resolve and resources. Now it’s up to the D.C. Council to put its money where its mouth is.

The council last fall approved the broad outlines of the mayor’s plan to replace D.C. General with smaller facilities scattered throughout the city . But now that the administration has identified specific locations and costs for the replacement shelters, there is controversy and second-guessing. Council members must ensure that taxpayer money is well spent, but they need to focus on the facts and not get caught up in the nimbyism that is fueling unfounded suspicions about the mayor’s tactics and motives.

The plan calls for spending an estimated $266 million over the next three decades to lease land and buildings. That is a lot of money, but not out of line with the realities of the Washington real estate market or what the city already pays on average for leased space. Officials put the basic cost per square foot of the shelters at $49.41, compared with $46.26 per square foot the city pays for leased office space. Add in operating expenses associated with the shelters and the average cost per square foot rises to $57.50. Officials say the annual cost of the replacement shelters is estimated at about $24 million, compared with $17 million for D.C. General (which would also need more than $50 million to renovate).

Opponents are bandying about comparisons between monthly rents for shelter units and those for regular apartments. But those don’t take into account special requirements for commercial kitchens, space for social workers and computer labs or included amenities (furniture, 24-hour security, turnover services between tenants). The city is leasing instead of buying because the capital budget already is allocated for other priorities such as school modernization. Any council member willing to trade a school capital project in his or her ward for purchase of a homeless shelter should raise a hand.

The District put out a request for proposals, enlisted the services of a well-regarded broker and has made public the list of all properties it examined, as well as the letters of intent with prospective landlords. The lease for one of the properties that has come under question — the site on Fifth Street NW in Ward 2 — was negotiated under the administration of former mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) and approved by the council. So much for the suggestion of a conspiracy to reward allies of Ms. Bowser.

The choice before the council is clear: proceed with plans to build what the mayor called “beautiful and dignified places where families can thrive, and where little children can be little children,” or continue to house families at D.C. General — and accept responsibility for the result.