DCentric » Homelessness http://dcentric.wamu.org Race, Class, The District. Wed, 16 May 2012 20:20:35 +0000 en hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.2.1 Copyright © WAMU Pushing the Homeless East of the River? http://dcentric.wamu.org/2012/01/pushing-the-homeless-east-of-the-river/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2012/01/pushing-the-homeless-east-of-the-river/#comments Wed, 11 Jan 2012 17:09:26 +0000 Elahe Izadi http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=13333 Continue reading ]]>

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.

Much of the opposition against the Calvary project is based on Anacostia residents’ concerns, rather than from those who the project aims to serve. We’ve been denied requests to interview women who would benefit directly from Calvary Women’s Services’ relocating to Anacostia, with the organization citing privacy concerns for their clients. But some success stories are featured in this Calvary-produced promotional video:

Calvary Executive Director Kris Thompson says in the video: “People who invest in this organization, who are donors of this organization, either of their time or of their financial resources, they want to do good with their money and they want to do good with their time. As a staff and as an organization, we take that very seriously, and so we stretch those dollars as far as we can.”

Those dollars are obviously going to be able to do more in Anacostia than in Chinatown, which is home to some of the highest retail and commericial rents in the city. Calvary rents space in Chinatown and purchased a vacant Anacostia building for $950,000 with plans for a $3 million renovation.

It could be argued that there are more residents in need living in Ward 8 than in Chinatown who could benefit from Calvary’s move; 36 percent of Ward 8 residents live below the poverty line, according to census estimates. Some of D.C.’s homeless shelters are moving in part because of the changing demographics of their neighborhoods. Take Central Union Mission, which is leaving its Logan Circle building for downtown. Executive Director David O. Treadwell told Borderstan that gentrification was a major reason behind the move: “We could see the writing on the wall, and we felt like eventually this would no longer be a poor neighborhood. We weren’t priced out since we own our building, but we wanted to be where the people who need our services were.” If similar economic revitalization happens in downtown Anacostia, will Calvary eventually see a reason to move as well?

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Eric Sheptock has 5,000 Facebook friends and no home http://dcentric.wamu.org/2010/12/eric-sheptock-has-5000-facebook-friends-and-no-home/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2010/12/eric-sheptock-has-5000-facebook-friends-and-no-home/#comments Mon, 13 Dec 2010 19:16:55 +0000 Matt Thompson http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=2669 Continue reading ]]>

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.

“Too many homeless people have come to look up to me, and I can’t just walk away from them,” he says in a recent blog posttitled “Tough Choices.” “My conscience won’t allow it.”

Having 5,000 friends on Facebook is more important to Sheptock than having $5,000 in the bank. And he lives with the consequences of that every day.

NPR’s Pam Fessler also profiled Sheptock for All Things Considered back in June:

Sheptock became a homeless activist a couple of years ago during a big fight with the city over the closure of one of D.C.’s largest shelters. He started writing for Street Sense, a D.C. newspaper devoted to the homeless.

And he’s working with a production group called Streats TV, which does advocacy for the homeless. [...]

But some advocates in the city think he’s on the wrong track. They say the city’s plan to move the chronically homeless out of shelters and into permanent housing is working and that Sheptock is hurting the cause by fighting to keep the shelters open.

Sheptock is undeterred.

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Rooting for Ja’Juan Jones http://dcentric.wamu.org/2010/11/rooting-for-jajuan-jones/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2010/11/rooting-for-jajuan-jones/#comments Thu, 11 Nov 2010 17:36:09 +0000 Anna http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=2006 Continue reading ]]> 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.

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No Room for Homeless Families in D.C. http://dcentric.wamu.org/2010/10/no-room-for-homeless-families-in-d-c/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2010/10/no-room-for-homeless-families-in-d-c/#comments Thu, 14 Oct 2010 14:34:14 +0000 Anna http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=1405 Continue reading ]]>


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.

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