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I was sorry to see the article in this week’s City Paper on the Thea Bowman House (“So Others Might Be Evicted,” 8/21) run by So Others Might Eat (SOME). I know SOME as an organization that does excellent work with the homeless primarily those with mental illness and substance disorders. They offer very good medical care, mental health care, and substance abuse treatment free of charge. They are supported almost entirely by charitable donations. SOME’s activities benefit the disadvantaged, and the city as a whole.
The transitional housing model is a sensible one for small nonprofits with limited resources. The idea is to help as many people as possible to rise from poverty. Residents of transitional housing units are offered low rents and some social support for a period of time, with the expectation that they will save money and get their lives together so as to live independently in the long run. When one family leaves, another can move in.
Ta-Nehisi Coates’ reporting seems one-sided. I can understand how upset Ms. Jones must have been to lose a comfortable, inexpensive apartment but what about those still living in the charred buildings up the street? Should they have been denied the opportunity that she had, because she did not want to leave? Few charity organizations have the funds to offer permanent assistance to needy families. This responsibility can only be taken up by state welfare agencies.
I hope that in the future, City Paper will take a broader look at nonprofit organizations like SOME that are doing creative, hands-on work in the District. These organizations cannot solve all the city’s problems, but they can respond to pressing needs and pioneer new approaches. If a few of these approaches fail, many succeed. It is just a shame to see the good work of SOME ignored, and the rare problem publicized, to the detriment of the agency.
La Clinica del Pueblo