Statement from Judith Sandalow, Executive Director, Children’s Law Center
In Support of the Mayor’s Bill Amending the Homeless Services Reform Act
WASHINGTON – The growing number of homeless families is something everyone in Washington, DC can and should see as their problem to help fix. It is particularly devastating for children – many of whom we see every day through our work. It will take the community working together to prevent families from becoming homeless, to provide safe, temporary shelter and to find them an enduring home. Closing the rapidly decaying DC General Family Shelter is a critical part of this plan.
For this reason, Children’s Law Center is coming out in support of the Mayor’s bill amending the Homeless Services Reform Act and the proposal to build smaller family shelters throughout the District.
We have come to this decision after a number of compromises were made to the Mayor’s original plan. This includes:
- A commitment by the Department of Human Services to identify families who have special needs requiring private bathrooms and other design changes before finalizing the shelter designs.
- The bill’s amendment to increase the number of bathrooms per family, to set the floor for bathrooms at one either private or family bathroom for every five families.
- A public commitment from the Mayor to try to provide even more private bathrooms for families in our homeless shelters – seeking to build shelters with one private or family bathroom for every three families in sites where the amount of available land will accommodate this change.
At Children’s Law Center, our first priority is keeping children safe. We think the Mayor’s revised plan is an important step forward to provide safe, temporary shelters that will allow the District to close DC General without delay. It also will allow the community to increase its focus on preventing family homelessness and addressing the lack of permanent, affordable housing for our struggling families.
Children’s Law Center also plans to hold the Mayor accountable to make good on her public promises to alter the shelter design to meet the needs of our traumatized families. We also call on the DC Council and everyone in the community to hold the Mayor to her promises.