A couple weeks ago, Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells shared the discovery that ten percent of people who come to District homeless shelters aren’t District residents (or at least, their last address was somewhere else). Being a good sport in the face of a $175 million budget shortfall, he promised to introduce legislation that would prioritize services for people who are from here.
Today, the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless raised the alarm that Wells is planning to do just that at tomorrow’s legislative meeting. The bill isn’t yet available for distribution, but Wells staffer Charles Allen explained the basics: Low-barrier shelters, which accept single people who walk off the street, will continue to accept all comers. But family shelters will turn away those whose last public assistance benefits were distributed outside the D.C. line. Tomorrow, Wells will introduce both an emergency measure, which would make the residency requirement go into effect when hypothermia season starts on November 1, and a permanent bill, which will have a hearing before it is voted on again by the Council.
If this passes, it sure would be nice if people could get over their opposition to homeless families having a place to sleep at night, even if it’s in their neighborhood.