WASHINGTON (AP) - An estimated 850 families are projected to be homeless in the District of Columbia this winter, a 16 percent increase over last year that could present a crisis for the city’s new mayor.
The city and the new mayor, who will take office in January, will confront the projected increase in homelessness with 40 fewer spaces at its main emergency shelter, questions over whether the rundown facility should be shut down altogether and a budget that’s estimated to be about $10 million short of what’s needed to house the homeless.
All three major candidates for mayor have agreed that the District needs a more caring approach to its homeless population, and all three have different ideas about how to do that, The Washington Post reported, (https://wapo.st/ZpUuu3 ).
D.C. Council member Muriel Bowser, for example, wants to find more apartments for homeless families and close down the D.C. General shelter, the city’s main emergency shelter. Council member David Catania said he would expand permanent rent supplement programs but isn’t sure whether the shelter should be closed.
Former council member Carol Schwartz said she thinks the city should “muddle through” winter until D.C. General is remodeled or another large-scale facility is built.
All agree that the city’s long-term plan should include invest more in affordable housing.
Patricia Mullahy Fugere, executive director of the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless, said she would like to see more creative approaches to the issues.
“This is a big problem, but I’m optimistic that it can be solved with bold leadership and a heart for these families,” she said. “So much of (the debate) stops short of where it needs to be if we are going to be serious about addressing this homeless crisis, and the affordable housing crisis.”
Information from: The Washington Post, https://www.washingtonpost.com
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