On Tuesday, D.C. officials will ceremonially début a new family homeless shelter at 5004 D St. SE in Marshall Heights as part of the plan to close and replace the derelict D.C. General shelter. The soon-to-open facility will house 35 families at any given time and feature wrap-around services to help them find longer-term housing, among other necessities. Located in Ward 7, the new shelter will also have computer labs and playground and recreational space.
The project, which is on District-owned land, will be the second D.C. General replacement shelter to open this year, following the unveiling of a 45-unit shelter in Northwest’s Ward 4 last month. As of Sept. 21, 60 families remained at D.C. General, according to the District’s Department of Human Services. That’s down from more than 250 families at D.C. General’s peak capacity earlier this year. Most have left the shelter with time-limited rental subsidies.
Mayor Muriel Bowser wants to shutter the former hospital by the end of 2018. It has served as a homeless shelter since 2001, after officials closed the now-defunct D.C. Village shelter. Several smaller-scale replacement shelters are currently under construction across the city. The next scheduled to open will also be located in Southeast, at 4225 6th St. SE, in Ward 8.
Of the 60 families that were still living at D.C. General on Sept. 21, 49 had “clear exit paths” from the shelter, per officials. Housing searches were ongoing for the other 11 families, and five families were identified as having “significant barriers to lease-up.” Those include rules that landlords have for screening tenants, needs for reasonable accommodations or larger-sized units, and “dynamics happening in the family that require full attention,” officials said.
The Ward 7 shelter is dubbed “the Horizon.” The remaining D.C. General replacements are expected to open next year and, in one case, 2020. But neighbors have challenged two of them—planned in Wards 3 and 5—in zoning lawsuits that are still pending in appeals court.