The District’s only 24/7 emergency shelter for survivors of domestic violence, DC Survivors and Advocates for Empowerment, was not selected for a plot of city-owned land it applied for in late 2014, according to Gwen Cofield, a spokesperson for the Department of Housing and Community Development.
Natalia Otero, DC SAFE’s executive director, says this plot was DC SAFE’s last and best bet for a new shelter location that would provide at least two dozen units of low-barrier, emergency shelter for survivors of domestic violence, mostly women and young children.
“We were not surprised,” Otero said. She said that in a meeting with DHCD representatives last August, DC SAFE staff got the feeling that the department was looking to “go in a different direction” with the land.
A spokesperson for DHCD said in an email that sites are awarded based on an “assessment of the respondents’ ability to meet the various criteria and agency policies set forth in the solicitation for offer… based upon [the agency’s] goals, mission and the specific needs of the community in which the site is located.”
She added that a panel consisting of “members of various agency divisions and staff” from the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development and the Office of Planning determined that none of the four proposals the department received “were appropriate for award at that time; and therefore, [the panel] recommended not to award the site.”
Instead, the land, a cluster of plots located at Florida and Q streets NW, will be up for grabs during this month’s March Madness urban development event; led by the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development in conjunction with DHCD, it’s an opportunity for developers to get a first look at projects “soon to be available to D.C.’s development community.”
Poised at the intersection of Bloomingdale and NoMa, the site borders two of the District’s most increasingly valuable neighborhoods. Bloomingdale alone has seen a 13 percent appreciation in property value in the last year, and private developers have invested more than $5 billion in the 35-block area within the NoMa Business Improvement District boundary.
DC SAFE’s lease on their current property will end at the close of fiscal year 2016—this October—and the organization does not yet have a definitive interim or permanent solution.
“There’s no way… without a crisis shelter in the city, there’s no way to keep people safe,” Otero said. “I’m concerned.”
Photo by Darrow Montgomery