In light of the overcrowded mess going on at D.C. General’s emergency shelter for families, I thought I should call Robert Egger. As founder and president of DC Central Kitchen, Egger is unmatched as this city’s most forward-thinking authority on homeless issues.
Years ago, Egger had approached city officials about moving away from sheltering homeless individuals in warehouses. He had a plan: Sell CCNV and put the profits in a trust that would go towards opening up a multipurpose homeless center. In 2000, I lived at CCNV and found it to be a hellhole.
Egger’s center would provide shelter on some floors and retail on the first floor that would be staffed by residents. There would also be job training as well as a home renovation program. Residents would renovate abandon properties and then those properties would be used for low-income housing.
Let’s just say city hall pretty much ignored Egger’s big idea. When City Desk talked to him today, he was still saddened that the District’s approach to homelessness hadn’t changed all that much since his idea got rejected.
“I still am vexed by how behind the times D.C. is when it comes to its homeless programs and how unwilling they are to go forward,” Egger says. “It’s still big buildings full of people.”
Meanwhile, Egger’s kitchen is still a force. During the snowstorm, Egger says his nonprofit produced 70,000 meals.
*photo courtesy of DC Central Kitchen.