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The Franklin School, located at 13th and K Streets NW

September 26 marks an anniversary few are celebrating, and some would surely like to forget:  One year ago Saturday, the Franklin School Shelter downtown closed.

On that day, city reps awoke the remaining men at the homeless shelter at 7 a.m. and asked them to leave right away. Those trying to wander into the building a few hours later also got a rude awakening.

“There was a police car there, hanging around with a loudspeaker saying the shelter’s been closed,” says Jane Zara, a lawyer and advocate for the homeless.  “A lot of [the men] lost identification. So their day employment was compromised,” she says.

In the following months, the Committee to Save Franklin Shelter, with help from Zara and lawyer George Rickman, filed two lawsuits against the city:  One in D.C. Superior Court, and the  other in federal court. In the later suit, Zara is alleging that the closure of the shelter is part of a larger trend of forcing the city’s homeless to the outer, poorest edges of Washington D.C.

Earlier this week, Zara sent out an e-mail asking advocates to help her gather evidence “or reliable contacts about any of the following: (we need more than hearsay, so minutes of meetings, govt documents, public notices would be helpful, but we will follow what leads people offer in the absence of these documents)

* the sudden enforcement of the no loitering clause in front of ccnv [Community for Creative Non-Violence]
* the closing of central union mission shelter in November
* the minutes of any organizational meetings urging the closing of Franklin Shelter
* the ordering of sweeps against the homeless in china town, downtown areas, or arrest records
* the criteria used for bids for the various property takeovers. organizations that included ways of serving the homeless were systematically cut out of the bidding process early on.
* evans’ relentless endeavors to target the west end library for sale (it is a safe haven for homeless that he wants to sell)

Image by Intangible Arts, Flickr Creative Commons