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When the District government has to put up homeless families in hotels, it’s a sign—-perhaps even an important sign—-that the city’s shelter space has been and continues to be inadequate for families. WaPo is reporting today that the District has started housing a small number of families in hotels. Homeless advocates and attorneys have been putting up families at churches and in hotels since last winter’s crisis. The difference: It might now be  government policy. That’s not a good thing (see Pitts Motor Hotel). But it does beat an overcrowded D.C. General, the emergency shelter space for families.

Why does the city’s policy towards the homeless always seem to toggle between shitty shelters and hotels?

WaPo writes that hotel stays aren’t something the District wants to readily admit:

“For its part, though, Human Services played down the hotel placements, apparently intent on keeping them a tool of last resort.

In an interview, Fred Swann, head of DHS’s Family Services Administration, stressed that hotel placements are typically made by charity groups and that the city hasn’t embarked on any new policy.

Neither Swann nor DHS spokesman Reggie Sanders could say how many families have been given hotel accommodations.”

Still, as of Jan. 30, the D.C. General shelter wasn’t at capacity. There were 145 units for 133 families including 232 children.