Opinions Differ on Mayor's Proposed Family Shelter Legislation
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As a part of the Mayor's plan to close the DC General Family Shelter, she has proposed legislation that will shape the design standards for the new, smaller buildings that will take its place. Government officials, advocates, and homeless families have been debating this proposed change, which the Council will vote on tomorrow, November 3rd. As CHGM has received a number of inquiries about the mayor's bill, we offer the following information and perspectives on it.

Currently, DC law currently requires that, when shelter is offered, a family must be placed in an apartment style unit, if available. When an apartment style unit is not available, a family may be placed in a private room. Private rooms generally do not include individual bedrooms, bathrooms, refrigerators, food storage, or cooking facilities.

If passed in its current form,  The Advancing Year Round Access to Shelter Policy and Prevention of Homelessness Amendment Act of 2015 , would change the legal standard for family shelter from apartment style to private rooms. The mayor has been urging support of her bill, which she views as critical to the city's ability to close DC General. Here is a l ink to her October 29th newsletter in which she makes the case for the legislation.

A number of service providers and advocates have expressed concerns that private room facilities with congregate bathrooms and kitchens would subject families to unsafe conditions and high conflict, and be retraumatizing for children and adults who have experienced or witnessed domestic or sexual abuse and other violence. In response, the mayor requested that the DC Interagency Council on Homelessness form a committee to provide recommendations on the design of the new facilities. You can read the findings of the committee here .

Several other organizations have offered opinions on the type of accommodations they believe to be most essential to the DC General replacement units. T he DC Fiscal Policy Institute supports private bathrooms and minimal cooking options for the new shelters . The views of The Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless, which conducted surveys of current DC General residents to learn what facilities are most important to them, can be found here . Many advocacy groups and service provider agencies testified at a DC Council hearing on the shelter design issue on October 13th. You can follow these links to the testimonies of the Fair Budget Coalition ,   DC Children's Law Center, and the Homeless Children's Playtime Project .

CHGM is grateful that so many of you are invested in learning about and supporting solutions to homelessness in the District. We hope the above information is helpful to you in determining whether and how you weigh in on the mayor's legislation and any amendments that may be offered tomorrow.

Efforts are Underway to Keep our Unsheltered Neighbors Safe this Hypothermia Season - Will You Help?

DC's hypothermia season runs from November 1st to March 31st. An alert indicates a right to shelter for all of our unhoused residents because of dangerously low temperatures. This year, the District's winter plan includes a new component that aims to better protect our homeless neighbors by factoring in precipitation when determining if a hypothermia alert will be called. Previously, an alert was called when the weather was predicted to fall to 32 degrees or below. This year, an alert will also be called when the temperature is expected to be 40 degrees or below and there is also at least a 50% chance of rain or snow. This is an important addition since a person's body will lose heat much faster if his or her clothes are wet, putting them in danger of experiencing hypothermia even if temperatures are above freezing.

CHGM's Street Outreach Program works extra hard to keep our unhoused neighbors safe during hypothermia season and we need your help! Our Homeless Assistance Response Team (HART) is composed of volunteers trained to canvass the streets of Capitol Hill in pairs offering life-saving outreach and emergency services to unsheltered residents on hypothermic nights. We are offering a training to onboard new HART volunteers on Tuesday, November 10th at 6:00 pm at 421 Seward Square SE. For more information, or to attend, please contact Abby Sypek at sypek@chgm.net or call 202-544-0631 x 200. We hope you will join us!

Whether or not you join HART, we encourage each of you to keep the Shelter Hotline number, 1-800-535-7252 , in your cell phone and call it whenever you see an unhoused neighbor who may be in need of help.
12th Annual Thanksgiving Interfaith Service to be held Sunday, November 22nd
Save the date! Join Capitol Hill Group Ministry for its 12th Annual Thanksgiving Interfaith Service on Sunday, November 22, 2015 at 4:00 pm (location to be announced soon). Come together with our diverse community to celebrate CHGM's ever expanding services to our neighbors in need, the Capitol Hill community, and many of the congregations and volunteers that help make our neighborhood such a wonderful place to call home. For more information, please contact Abby Sypek at sypek@chgm.net or call 202-544-0631 x 200.
"Serving the Community, One Neighbor at a Time"