WASHINGTON, DC -- Thursday’s groundbreaking in Petworth for a new short-term family housing building marked the start of a plan to replace the old, repurposed DC General Hospital turned homeless shelter, into a 45 family unit facility in an effort to bring “dignified, service enriched programs.”
During her announcement of the new facility, Mayor Muriel Bowser called to mind the case of seven-year-old Relisha Rudd who vanished in 2014 from DC General.
“It certainly was never meant for children to live there, and we have to double-down on our efforts to keep any child from slipping through the cracks.”, said the Mayor of the DC General homeless shelter.
This project is the latest in Mayor Bowser’s Homeward DC initiative, which has reduced homelessness overall in the district by over 10 percent.
Unlike DC General, this new facility and others like it, set to go up in each ward, is meant to bring some feeling of stability for struggling families and will include space for kids to work and play.
However, that plan leaves some longtime residents, like Solomon Kenneth Palmer Jr. who has lived in DC for 40 years, wondering what the long-term solution looks like.
He said, “My concern is, as I raised, ok, so we’re going to get them out of harm’s way. DC General, this is a temporary shelter, but where do we go from here?”
Officials say it’s all about providing emergency care first, then getting families permanently back on their feet.
Kristy Greenwalt, Director of the DC Interagency Council of Homelessness said, “We need a safe place for people to be tonight, but we immediately begin working with individuals and their families on that next step.”
The new short-term housing construction is expected to take 14 months to finish and will be available for families immediately upon completion.