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Today, the New York Times‘ editorial board took the unusual step of issuing an opinion on a local D.C. issue. The board thoroughly shreds Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells‘ incredibly lazy proposal to limit homeless services to District residents. If only the Washington Post would be so bold.
Times editorial after the jump.
The Times editorial’s first graph pretty much says it all:
“In another example of how budgetary pressures can lead to very bad public policy, the City Council of the District of Columbia is considering turning away homeless people from winter shelters if they cannot show ties to the district through proof of a recent legal address or receipt of public assistance. That would put the lives of many vulnerable people at risk, and it won’t save a dime.”
Here’s some more of the paper’s supreme takedown:
“According to the district’s chief financial officer, the plan would not relieve any budget pressures. The waiting line for space in shelters is always so long that if a family from elsewhere wouldn’t qualify, a family in the district would take its place. But the sponsor of the idea, Councilman Tommy Wells, who leads the human services committee, is wrestling with a $175 million shortfall in the human services budget and is eager to show that he can make tough choices. Tough and inhumane.
Mr. Wells should instead be looking for any help he can find to expand the shelter system — dunning Congress, charitable foundations, local philanthropists. Waiting until someone freezes to death will be too late.
Poverty, hunger and homelessness know no borders. The Supreme Court underscored this truth 41 years ago when it said states can’t adopt policies to restrict the freedom of the poor to travel from one to another, whether pursuing their destiny or survival. If the nation’s capital won’t honor the spirit of the law — and its own statute and long history — all Americans will be shamed.”
file photo of D.C. General during last March.