As temperatures in D.C. drop to dangerously cold levels for the unhoused, the District plans to unveil another homeless shelter for families on Tuesday—one of several replacements for D.C. General, the decaying megashelter that Mayor Muriel Bowser shuttered late last month.
Dubbed “The Triumph,” the new 50-unit shelter is located at 4225 6th St. SE in Washington Highlands, near Southeast’s border with Maryland. The facility will début on Nov. 13 with a ribbon cutting and an open house. Its features include computer labs, outdoor playground space, and a study lounge for residents, according to District officials. The Triumph is Ward 8’s D.C. General replacement shelter. Two others—in Wards 4 and 7—also recently launched.
Officials say the new shelters, which are times smaller than the former D.C. General hospital was, will help families stabilize and get connected to longer-term housing within 90 days of arriving. “We might not get there out of the gate, but that’s the goal,” Department of Human Services Director Laura Zeilinger told Curbed in an interview after D.C. General had closed.
As of the end of October, more than 580 households were in D.C.’s shelter system, including hotel rooms used as overflow space, according to official figures. Although this was prior to hypothermia season, when the District’s shelter population usually spikes, it was down from 780 families around the same time last year, or about a 25 percent decline. It was also down from 924 homeless families recorded last January, during the annual “point-in-time” census.
The remaining D.C. General replacement shelters, located in Wards 1, 3, 5, and 6, are under development and slated to open in 2019 and 2020. Last month, the Ward 3 shelter survived a legal challenge by neighbors who had complained that the 50-unit project would change the surrounding area’s “low-density character” and “add significant noise.” A similar zoning lawsuit over the Ward 5 project was filed in March and is pending in the D.C. appeals court.
The District is also currently seeking nonprofit organizations that could “offer high quality medical screenings and connections to medical services” for the residents of the shelters located in Wards 4, 7, and 8. Between $100,000 and $250,000 is anticipated to fund up to three organizations. Each shelter has a small exam room where the selected groups would administer walk-in services to residents one night a week, a request for applications states.
As for the vacant D.C. General building, District planning officials say they will knock it down next year, and work with the community and lawmakers to redevelop the river-adjacent site.