Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Family Homeless Shelter Planned for Square 643


Mayor Bowser announced this morning the location of eight community-based short-term family housing locations (family homeless shelters), one for each Ward of the city. These eight facilities will replace DC General, which is the current family homeless shelter and is scheduled for closure. Ward 6’s proposed location is on land adjacent to Blind Whino SW Arts Club at 700 Delaware Avenue. The proposed facility will house up to 50 families at a time in a seven-story building and may open by May 2018. According to the Mayor's office, the facility will offer the following:

  • Private rooms for families
  • Parking
  • Playground & recreation space (Randall Field is located next door so if these amenities are included in the building, they would be redundant)
  • Computer lab for residents
  • Ongoing support services & programming for families

Former proposal for Square 643

Back in 2003 Steve Tanner, the owner of 700 Delaware Avenue (Square 643), planned to transform the old Friendship Baptist Church building into office space and build condominiums on the adjacent land. The project received PUD approval over a decade ago, but was delayed several times due to inaction on the redevelopment of Randall Junior High School across the street (coincidentally, a homeless shelter used to be located at Randall, but closed in anticipation of its redevelopment as a museum/residential project). Eventually, the developer came to an agreement with Blind Whino to convert the church into the non-profit Blind Whino SW Arts Club and a mural was painted on the building's exterior. The club opened in 2013, but the residential portion of the original development was not built. Other temporary uses for the site included batting cages for a youth baseball league and a community garden.  












With the proposed facility, the site's redevelopment would finally be complete; however, before construction can begin, the city will need to file a new PUD since the previous one for the site has expired. The DC Council will also need to approve all eight proposed sites. A community meeting to discuss the community-based short-term family housing proposal will be held on Thursday evening at 6:30pm at Friendship Baptist Church, located at 900 Delaware Avenue. 

Renderings courtesy of DC Government and Steve Tanner

21 comments:

Michael said...

This is awesome news! It would be wonderful if the community garden could still be tied in for SW residents!

SWDrew said...

UGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

SWresident said...

What's the latest on the Randall School project? It seems that a shelter on an adjacent property would create some apprehension for developers.

Unknown said...

Dumb

SWag said...

And here come all the SW NIMBYers... I'm all for it. Everyone should have a place to live. Otherwise this is going to become a wack community/neighborhood. This is a CITY for crying out loud. I think we should hold the shelter and the residents to the same standards we do for everyone else, and it will be a nice addition to that area. Peace

Sultan of SW said...

Brand new FREE housing for those who hit the books hard, patiently climbed the corporate ladder, and refrained from having children they can't afford!!! Oh wait, we have to pay for our $500k+ rowhomes, 300k+ condos/co-ops, and 2k+/month apartments in SW.

Seriously though, a shiny new shelter mostly benefits (1) the mayor's reputation with Long-Term Residents (TM); and (2) the contractors who get paid to do the construction. It seems pretty clear that the city has no real plan to follow through on finding long-term solutions to root causes of homelessness/poverty.

SWag said...

You forgot the people that benefit the absolute most. The homeless... Right???

Anyway, in the mean time of solving homelessness (which would likely be years, if at all possible) the homeless should just live in squalor at DC General? Come on man... Where is your heart. Don't worry. Keep studying, climb the corporate ladder - ONE homeless shelter in the midst of all the other awesome amenities SW (and all of DC) will soon have to offer wont affect you too much. If it does, obviously, feel free to move as far away from the shelters as you'd like. As a person paying the prices you mentioned above, I have NO problem with deprived families having clean, safe, temporary shelter at no cost.

Unknown said...

I'm all for development I just don't want a homeless shelter

SWag said...

Ok, cool. Good thing you're not the mayor.

Pro-SW Middle Class said...

The city is concentrating poverty again in the SW area. That's the issue. Plus, this is treating SW as if the waterfront redevelopment has already changed things. Why not wait to see how that turns out and then see whether we can absorb a homeless shelter at that point. Not all wards are equal and we're doing more than our share already.

Sultan of SW said...

I agree that there is currently an inordinate amount of public housing units in SW. But, I'm not so sure that DC is concentrating poverty in our neighborhood. Greenleaf is scheduled to be redeveloped, and if we are going to be real about it, the result will be that the current Greenleaf population will be dispersed. Also, with respect to James Creek and Syphax Gardens (the projects south of M street), will they still be standing in 7-8 years, considering the immense amount of money set to be spent on Buzzard Point?

That being said, I remain opposed to the SW shelter.

Unknown said...

Agreed

Pro-SW Middle Class said...

As you've written, Sultan of SW. These are all good things to come. But we are getting ahead of ourselves. The "all-ward solution" talking point from the city does not take into account that sw is at a pivotal turning point. And the call to ending poverty--which no one opposes--is designed to rebut all legitimate criticism of timing and location (the two big problems here).

Sultan of SW said...

Pro-SW Middle Class, your point about rebutting legitimate criticism is spot-on (see some of SWag's comments, implying "heartlessness" and encouraging people who don't like the shelter plan to "move away").

AMK said...

I'm disappointed to see so much opposition expressed here, but not surprised. Unfortunately, homelessness is a significant problem that DC has failed to address responsibly so far. Every area and sector of the city will need to be part of a more effective solution, including our neighborhood. I don't see how temporary housing for 50 families is a concentration of poverty in SW, as one commenter put it. That's a very small number.

Pro-SW Middle Class said...

50 families *on top of* lots of public housing north and south of M Street. That's not concentration of poverty? Seriously, how does one respond to you? Again, you are missing the point by bringing up the problem of homelessness, etc. The city has mishandled things before with this, and we can expect it will do the same again.

AMK said...

Pro-SW Middle Class: In response to your question, one responds with civil discourse. In continuation of that discourse, I would agree that you are right, of course, that we do have a number of housing projects in Southwest. That's a fact. It also seems likely that many, if not all, will be eliminated with the redevelopment of Southwest in the coming years. I would also note that there are housing projects throughout the city, including in many neighborhoods that have enjoyed wonderful and valuable redevelopment in recent years (i.e., the presence of such places didn't discourage redevelopment). Like many others, I share in looking forward to much of the redevelopment that is coming to Southwest and the various quality of life and property value improvements that will come with it. But I also don't oppose the presence of temporary housing for 50 homeless families. Those two things don't have to be mutually exclusive. I hope that ours will be a neighborhood that continues to benefit from the extensive plans for redevelopment and also be a neighborhood that can host facilities to help vulnerable people get some assistance.

Pro-SW Middle Class said...

"Civil Discourse" doesn't need to be disingenuous--this IS concentrating poverty in one area (at this point). And I'm not concerned about my property value as much as I am about living in a better neighborhood where I don't have to be worried about my family's safety and my kids going to school. Do you not want to fix us up as much as you want to help end homelessness? I know you're answer will be: children will always be unsafe/this is a city/you are criminalizing the homeless, etc. But for crying out loud this is not the time to *experiment* in *this* particular quadrant. Later, once we've changed, I would support this addition in the name of good citizenship (although I'd worry that DC would foul it up then, too).

Michael Reyes's blog said...

The randall junior high school is amazing. Good thing that they aren't planning to destroy it. I have been inside of the abandoned school and it is very eerie and creepy. Check out my video on youtube at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-74iZ9V0hNxVBhwkgXv-qw

BL said...

Can we still oppose this? Is there an active pettetion against this?

Unknown said...

We are a homeless shelter in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. We provide meals, shelter, medical and dental care and a range of counseling and coaching services to help transform lives. We attract primarily donors and volunteers through our web site.
water street rescue mission