Pushing the Homeless East of the River?

Tom Bridge / Flickr

A view of Anacostia from west of the river.

On Monday, we wrote about how a nonprofit’s plans to open a transitional housing building in downtown Anacostia for homeless women has sparked protests by neighbors. Some feel Anacostia is becoming a “dumping ground” for social services, and this is hurting the neighborhood’s chances for economic development.

DCentric commenter Ann-Marie Watt, who is opposed to the project run by Calvary Women’s Services, had this to add:

A couple of years ago, I was volunteering and spoke with a homeless man in McPherson Square park.  He said that he was an advocate for the homeless and operated a blog on homelessness issues.  He was sooo angry at DC and other groups moving their services to Anacostia.  He said that people were trying to get rid of the homeless population by moving them to the other side of the river.  He also said that it would be more difficult to get back to the other side every day.  So, what about that?…

Calvary is planning to relocate from Chinatown to Anacostia. It’s true that more job opportunities exist west of the Anacostia River than east of it. Traveling across the river can be timely or expensive; one alternative is the DC Circulator, which recently started running a rapid $1 bus line connecting Anacostia to the Potomac Avenue Metro across the river.

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Eric Sheptock has 5,000 Facebook friends and no home

Nathan Rott shares the story of Eric Sheptock, a self-described “homeless homeless advocate”:

Being homeless has become Sheptock’s full-time occupation. It’s work that has provided him with purpose and a sense of community. But it’s also work that has perpetuated his homelessness and, in a way, glorified it.

Sheptock, 41, wouldn’t take a 9-to-5 job that compromised his advocacy efforts or the long hours he spends tending to his digital empire, he says. He wouldn’t move out of the downtown D.C. shelter where he has slept for the past two years if it would make him a less effective voice for change.

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Rooting for Ja’Juan Jones

What are you reading, right now? I’m immersed in “South Lakes’ Ja’Juan Jones finds his place after a homeless odyssey“, from the Washington Post.

His homeless odyssey has given his play on the football field an angry edge, one that he hopes will land him a college scholarship. A senior running back and free safety at South Lakes High School, Jones has grown up sleeping on floors, couches and, at one point, spent a year living in a shelter…”I’ve always seen Ja’Juan as pretty strong…He’s always had his mind set, this is what I want to do and this is how I’m going to do it. The day he realized he could get a scholarship to go to college, it was like fireworks on the Fourth of July. That boy was running around the house screaming, ‘I’m going to college! I’m going to college!‘ “

“We’ve lost a lot of stuff in storage,” Jones said. “That’s one thing about moving a lot. You put your stuff in storage and then you go back and it’s always gone. I’ve lost trophies. My dad’s American flag that we got when he died is gone too.

“I started off wanting to just play football in college,” Jones said. “Now, I’m starting to realize that even if I can’t play football, I want to go to college, but, football is my ticket. I want an upper-class job. I want to be in an office. I want to be able to provide for my family, like they deserve to be provided for.

No Room for Homeless Families in D.C.


This is worrisome:

A month after pledging to do a better job of sheltering the city’s homeless this winter, District leaders haven’t figured out how best to meet that promise. Meanwhile, the Family Emergency Shelter, which can house 135 families, is nearly full. And last week, 67 more families were waiting for emergency housing, with no place else to go…

A city plan to add up to 100 rooms to the D.C. General shelter was abandoned after the idea came under fire last month from advocates for the homeless and D.C. Council member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6), who said it would worsen conditions at the troubled shelter.

Another plan would have transformed the former Hebrew Home for the Aged on Spring Road NW into a shelter for 75 homeless families, but Council member Muriel Bowser questioned whether it was fair to create a new shelter on a street which already has two.

With no alternatives left on the table, the city will rely on moving families out of D.C. General as quickly as possible and into 185 transitional apartments, said Laura Zeilinger, who oversees homeless programs for the city’s Department of Human Services.