Today, the Council is voting to approve and fund a new plan for closing DC general. In February the administration proposed a plan to close DC general. As initially proposed the plan called for locating the Ward 5 temporary shelter at 2266 25th Place, NE. The 25th Place site presented serious challenges including its proximity to a trash transfer station, bus lots, a strip club, a night club, and freight rail tracks. Additionally, its distance from public transportation and grocery stores presented more problems. “From day one I indicated that I could not support the proposed Ward 5 site because it simply was an untenable location for a myriad of reasons – first and foremost was the health and safety of the children and families who will be living temporarily in the housing,” said McDuffie. In fact, the Ward 5 location was almost universally opposed by residents, advocates and health professionals.
The Council’s proposal provides the Administration with two alternate locations to choose from, the former Metropolitan Police Department Youth Division Building located on Rhode Island Avenue, and the Penn Center located at 326 R Street, NE. “Neither site is by any means ‘perfect’ but they are certainly measurably better than the initial proposal,” stated McDuffie.
“To be clear, my preference between the two sites is the Youth Division building, especially given that it is one of the sites that was developed as a recommendation by Ward 5 residents as a result of one of the several community meetings that we held,” said McDuffie. “However, to ensure that the plan to shut down DC General moves forward it is prudent to provide the Administration with an alternate site.”
Importantly, this proposal does more than just improve the location of the proposed shelters – it also manages to save District taxpayers $165 million when compared to the leases initially proposed by the Executive. And in reality, this proposal will likely end up saving the District even more money in the long run – as the District will now permanently own every D.C. General replacement shelter and will not need to search for new shelters in 20 years when the Executive’s proposed leases would have expired. “I also call on the Executive to move quickly to implement this plan, so that we can finally move forward together and close D.C. General,” noted McDuffie.