The District is looking for contractors to provide a full suite of maintenance services for three new family homeless shelters expected to open in Northwest and Southeast this fall. The facilities are part of the District’s plan to close and replace the dilapidated D.C. General shelter in the coming months.
Located in Wards 4, 7, and 8, they will be the first D.C. General replacement shelters to début and will have between 35 and 50 units each. The four remaining replacement shelters are scheduled to open next summer and, in one case, in spring 2020. Those projects are located in Northwest, Northeast, and Southwest. All are on land D.C. owns.
On July 31, the D.C. Department of General Services, which is leading the construction of the new shelters and the demolition of D.C. General, put out a solicitation for “consolidated maintenance services” for the facilities planned at 5505 Fifth St. NW (Ward 4), 5004 D St. SE (Ward 7), and 4225 6th St. SE (Ward 8). The required work ranges from repair, electrical, mechanical services to pest control, snow removal, and landscaping.
Proposals are due on Aug. 20. The District notes in its solicitation that the contract prices will be determined at a later date and it may award multiple facilities to a single contractor. The winning contractors will be required to provide “transition plans” for servicing the sites.
The D.C. Department of Human Services anticipates that homeless families will live at the facilities from 90 to 120 days each, but some may stay for up to six months, according to answers the District provided to inquiring contractors. The department “will determine the length a families stays on a case by case basis.”
Mayor Muriel Bowser’s administration hopes to shutter D.C. General before the end of the year. The former hospital can house up to 260 families, although currently fewer than 135 live there after the District stopped placing families at D.C. General on May 15.
The replacement shelters in Wards 7 and 8 have experienced construction delays because of contracting issues, but the administration insists they will open on time. The District is also working to place D.C. General families in private apartments or other accommodations.
Advocates for the homeless and D.C. councilmembers have recently raised concerns over the timing of the closure and potential environmental hazards on the shelter’s campus. The site includes a vacant building on the grounds of which inspectors discovered significant amounts of lead in July. This building sits only 250 feet away from the main shelter building.
Last week, a majority of the 13-member D.C. Council asked Bowser to pause demolition on the campus while families still reside there. “We simply do not understand the urgency to demolish these buildings and certainly cannot imagine a reason that outweighs the danger to the families living on the D.C. General campus,” they wrote.
Asked why demolition work has to happen before the remaining families are relocated, a member of Bowser’s Cabinet told Curbed DC in a statement last week that officials want to ensure that “we never again use [D.C. General] to warehouse women or families in conditions that are unsafe, unsanitary and undignified.”