Last winter brought an unforeseen spike in the number of homeless families seeking shelter, sending the city scrambling to accommodate them in makeshift shelters and motels. This winter, city officials aimed to be better prepared, planning for an anticipated 16 percent increase in the number of families requiring shelter over last year.
The reality has been much worse.
During the winter of 2013-2014, 723 families entered shelter in the District. This winter, the city expected that number to rise to 840.
Instead, with the end of the so-called “hypothermia season” still nearly three weeks away, the city has already surpassed that figure. According to testimony from Director of Human Services Laura Zeilinger before the D.C. Council this afternoon, 897 families have already entered shelter this winter.
The city is trying to shut down the troubled family shelter at the former D.C. General Hospital. But with that shelter long filled to capacity, and with the city sheltering hundreds of families at motels for lack of other space, the city has plenty of crisis management to work through before it can progress to improving the shelter situation.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery