Councilmember Charles Allen made the following statement today on the District’s Homeward DC plan to close DC General:
From the beginning of these conversations, I have outlined my priorities for the Homeward DC plan. I believe we need to close DC General, a failed and centralized family shelter, and replace it with smaller neighborhood-based facilities that provide more respectful and dignified housing, and we need to do so as quickly as possible. I also believe that the Council has an important role to help shape the city's plan to ensure success and a good deal for District taxpayers. I commend the Mayor's effort to set us on a course to close DC General and successfully house families in need of short-term emergency housing. And I'm very proud of my Council colleagues for working together, and in collaboration with the Mayor's team, to put this final plan forward.
I am recommending that the Ward 6 site be located at 850 Delaware Avenue, SW, a District-owned parcel of land that currently houses an aging Unity Health Care clinic. After lengthy conversations about the feasibility of constructing an emergency housing facility at 200 K Street, NW, I have been convinced that despite its attractive location, the legal and regulatory reviews required prevent this site from allowing DC General to be closed within the desired timeline.
The 850 Delaware Avenue, SW site was identified early on by the Southwest community as a possible alternative to the initial proposal at 700 Delaware Avenue, SW. In addition, this location has more favorable zoning and is large enough to accommodate up to 50 units of housing. Further, after constructive conversations with the Mayor and her team, the city has committed to replacing and rebuilding the community health center located at that site, and has also committed to protecting and preserving critical Greenleaf public housing through a Build First model of redevelopment as prioritized by the Southwest community.
I believe today’s vote represents a better deal for DC taxpayers, a better deal for the Southwest community, and most importantly, a better deal for those families experiencing homelessness.
In the coming weeks, I will schedule and host a community meeting to outline the next steps for this site, to present more details from the Homeward DC plan, and to answer questions from neighbors.