- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 21, 2021

D.C. officials are facing several deadlines — all of their own making — and it doesn’t matter whether they’re wearing digital time pieces, showing off a Piaget or checking the clock on their government-issued laptop.

They’re operating on taxpayer time and getting paid accordingly.

So jump to it.

The current deadline is on homelessness.

The numbers change as quickly as temperatures during the fall, and congressional conservatives remind themselves it’s their constitutional duty to keep the nation’s capital in check regardless of the season.

Not one mayor who’s held office since Home Rule in 1973 has succeeded in battling homelessness.

As things now stand, Old Man Winter could come knocking before Thanksgiving. That means sturdier shelter for the homeless is a timely must.

Sure, some of the usual spots — like public libraries, fast-food joints and taxpayer-funded housing — will be utilized by hardened veterans still on the streets.

And for sure, that warm-hearted legislators want homeless women, children and men — not necessarily the housing itself — to be the top priorities makes good sense.

In addition to colder climes, City Hall must consider the politics of sheltering the homeless. Are D.C. Council members and Mayor Muriel Bowser working on policies that would reunite the homeless with their families? Even temporarily?

Do the mayor and lawmakers know where the homeless are getting the tents? And how do the homeless know where to set up the tents? Why aren’t they perching themselves in Lafayette Park, the Kennedy Center, Rock Creek Park, the plaza known as Black Lives Matter or the National Mall, for that matter?

Also on the political agenda is which incumbents are running for which seats. Madam Mayor? D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton? Council Chairman Phil Mendelson?

Is warm-hearted at-large council member Elissa Silverman, an independent, seeking reelection?

If so, she’s already staking her territory on the issue.

“Is the goal to get residents into permanent housing, or is the goal to conquer the encampments?” Miss Silverman said. “I want to make sure that our goal is to get encampment residents into permanent housing, and that does not appear to be the case right now.”

Perhaps that never was Miss Bowser’s intent. She whisked herself around the city one evening a few years ago and told D.C. residents and other stakeholders that she was going to build shelters in designated spots she had already chosen, and all she wanted residents and stakeholders to do was sign on the dotted lines.

Well, humph. That didn’t go over well.

Anyway, City Hall has to be mindful of the 2020 census redistricting boundaries, the Point-in-Time homeless headcount, the 2022 elections, the fiscal 2023 budget, Congress’ imprint on the 2023 D.C. budget and the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Miss Bowser pretty much promised to end homelessness in 2025.

Ha! Before they know it, Old Man Winter will again follow autumn leaves.

Makes you wonder. Do politicians want to end homelessness or do they want to merely think they do?

Tick tock. Time will tell — again.

• Deborah Simmons can be contacted at dsimmons@washingtontimes.com.

• Deborah Simmons can be reached at dsimmons@washingtontimes.com.

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