Like some of you, I woke up this morning to the front-page Washington Post story on DC General. If you haven't read it yet, you can do so here: http://t.co/h6QWgRcBH9
I have a mix of feelings about this story. It is outrageous that our local government is putting families in conditions like this. I also want to thank the Post for putting resources into this important story--it is why we need to have great local reporting. But above all, it motivates me even more to be your at-large councilmember and serve on the Human Services Committee. I want to serve on this committee because the agencies it oversees are where we put resources into our most vulnerable families--and as today's story shows, we are spending taxpayer dollars to put our most vulnerable moms, dads, and kids in harm's way.
A few thoughts on what I would do as your at-large member:
1. I would advocate to the Mayor and my colleagues that we re-evaluate our contract with The Community Partnership, which runs our homeless services programs. The lack of responsiveness to the issues at DC General and lack of transparency in the spending of funds given to them is simply unacceptable.
2. I would work with the Department of Human Services and my colleagues on Council to have a better assessment system in place so we know how these families ended up at DC General and the resources they need to quickly move into permanent shelter. Perhaps expanding the pilot on this program: http://www.dcfpi.org/category/blog/page/2. People end up in shelter for different reasons-- job loss, mental health issues, domestic violence--and there are different tools to address these different needs.
3. I would work with the Department of Human Services and other parts of executive branch to make sure we use all the tools we have--local rent supplement, permanent supportive housing, emergency rental assistance--to get these families out of DC General. Because we know that if we do not move these families out of DC General, we will be in a crisis during hypothermia season and spend a lot more money on motel rooms.
4. I will work with the Mayor, the executive agencies and my colleagues to create and execute a plan to put in place a safe, clean, innovative emergency family shelter and shut down DC General once and for all.
These are just some quick thoughts. Happy to get your input. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.