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At a Council Committee on Human Services hearing today, DHS Director Clarence Carter announced a resolution, of sorts, in the long-running saga of the Peaceoholics and 1300 Congress Street SE: That 13-unit building, which the Peaceoholics had gotten city money to rehabilitate into an independent living facility for young at-risk men, will instead be used to house homeless families. Another Peaceoholics facility, a 16-unit building at 1271 Meigs Place NE, will meet the same fate. Both were finished and just waiting on their certificates of occupancy before DHS heard that plans had changed.
“We jumped on that,” said Carter (who had just been berated for three hours for not having much in the way of contingency planning for homeless families this winter).
If the Peaceoholics lost out, they might have brought in on themselves. At a hearing on their real estate activities in July, Ron Moten and Jauhar Abraham hurled insults at Councilmembers Michael A. Brown and Harry Thomas, saying that racism and politics were at the root of their inquiry (“Man, this ain’t right, man. You got to check yourself, brother,” Moten huffed. “Put politics in the way of our children?”)
Substantively, the problem was that 1300 Congress Street specifically hadn’t been voted on by the Council, since it had been substituted for another building after the initial bundle had been approved. But that probably wouldn’t have been enough to junk the whole idea of housing at-risk youth if it hadn’t been for the Peaceoholics attitude.
In the mean time, it looks like ANC 8E’s zoning appeal—to be decided November 2—has just become moot. But the neighbors might not be satisfied. “It still violates Title 11,” said appellant Brian Townes of the homeless family housing idea, referring to the regulation that addresses clustering of community based residential facilities.
UPDATE, Friday, 7:00 p.m. – According to the Department of Housing and Economic Development, the switch was made because the Department of Youth and Rehabilitation Services didn’t have the money to support the Peaceoholics’ program. DHCD said that negotiations are underwy over whether the Peaceoholics, who still own the building, will operate DHS’ homeless families program.