We all know that the conditions at D.C. General are simply not acceptable for the families and children that are currently housed at the site. On Tuesday, May 17, the Council voted to approve and fund a new plan for closing DC General with two new proposed sites in Ward 5. Some of you have contacted my office to voice your concerns regarding the new plan. Our office is committed to working with you to answer your questions and to discuss how we can move forward together with compassion for our most vulnerable population. I will hold a town hall meeting on Friday, May 27, from 6:00pm to 8:00pm at the Rev. Dr. Morris L. Shearin, Sr. Community Life Center, Capital City Hall of Distinction (CCHOD) located at 1251 Saratoga Avenue, NE. I hope that you will be able to attend.
In February, Mayor Bowser proposed a plan to close D.C. 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. In fact, the Mayor’s proposed Ward 5 location was almost universally opposed by residents, advocates, and health professionals.
Under the new plan, the Council’s proposal provides the Mayor with two alternate locations in Ward 5: the former Metropolitan Police Department Youth Division Building located on 17th and Rhode Island Avenue, NE, and the Penn Center, located at 326 R Street, NE. Additionally, the Council’s revised proposal would save District taxpayers at least $165 million when compared to the leases initially proposed in the Mayor’s plan.
Importantly, it should be noted that I prefer 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 were held after the Mayor’s initial proposal. Our office will continue to work with the Mayor to push for the preferred location on Rhode Island Avenue to be selected and to address any concerns that might arise from the community.
I look forward to hearing your input on Friday.