What can you do? Contact the DC Council Committee on Human Services, and tell them to VOTE NO!
As we told you earlier, despite the fact that DC emergency shelters already have the highest burden for proving DC residency of any DC program, Mayor Bowser is proposing doubling the requirement for documentation. The Bill would increase the requirement from one to two pieces of documentation from a new, enumerated list of documents, almost all of which require an applicant to have recently had a residential address. The Bill also removes the ability to establish residency during a 3-day grace period, and now only allows that period to be used for documenting that the family was a DC resident the day the family applied.
We cannot on the one hand declare DC a “Sanctuary City” and claim that we welcome diversity, but then enact laws meant to keep vulnerable families from accessing safe shelter, placing them at greater risk of harm. Nassim Moshiree, ACLU of DC
This proposed provision puts particularly vulnerable families at higher risk. Many groups recommend removing this section entirely.
Last Tuesday, the DC Council made changes to the Mayor’s proposed legislation to close the DC General family shelter and voted unanimously in favor of the bill. (It requires two votes to become law). We strongly support the changes to the bill and urge the Mayor and Council to work out any remaining kinks and expeditiously finalize and pass this important legislation. The new version of the bill maintains the overall approach proposed by Mayor Bowser—that DC General be replaced with smaller shelters dispersed throughout the District. It also keeps more than half of the sites that the Mayor recommended (Wards 1, 4, 7 and 8). The major changes are to authorize DC to purchase or use eminent domain to acquire the Wards 1 and 4 properties, and to switch the Wards 3, 5, and 6 sites for specific DC-owned properties. The Council also included capital dollars in the FY17 budget to fund such acquisition and/or development of the properties into shelters. If none of the sites are leased, the District will save about $165 million. In our view, the changes to the bill fairly reflect three months of community input into the specifics of the Mayor’s plan. The Mayor has held at least two community meetings in each ward to solicit input on the plan and the Council held a hearing at which we testified on March 17th. Overwhelmingly, community members supported the Mayor’s overall approach to closing DC General yet raised serious concerns about high leasing costs, the short term of shelter leases when family homelessness looks to be a long term problem, the lack of private bathrooms and cooking space in the designs, and problems with the sites in Wards 3, 5 and 6. There were sign-on letters from advocacy organizations, letters from health professionals, and multiple stories in the press that echoed these concerns (such as the Ward 5 site’s asthma risks, the Ward 6 site’s proximity to the Blind Whino, and overall costs). For the sites in Wards 3, 5 and 6, there were also significant concerns about upcoming zoning battles and resulting delays. Of the three sites replacing the Mayor’s suggestions, at least two (Wards 3 and 5) were proposed as alternatives by Ward constituents and Councilmembers to the Mayor’s office and vetted openly. It’s easy to become distracted by the political drama surrounding this issue, but step back for a moment, and we achieve a brighter perspective. First, this is how democracy should work. The Mayor can and should take leadership to propose a major initiative that the Administration will have to execute. And when that initiative is laid out in legislation, it is up to the Council to hold a hearing and mark up the...
The following is Legal Clinic testimony delivered by Amber Harding on Friday, April 29th before the DC Council’s Committee of the Whole at its Budget Oversight Hearing for FY17. The Legal Clinic’s budgest testimony before the DC Council’s Committee on Health and Human Services and Committee on Housing and Community Development can be found here and here, respectively.