DC
03/07/2012 05:14 pm ET

D.C. Homeless Shelter System Can't Keep Up

By Jessilyn Justice
Street Sense

When District officials made plans late last year to renovate rooms for 100 additional homeless families at the old D.C. General Hospital, the plan seemed more than adequate.

The new space would allow the city to move roughly 50 families being housed in area motels into the hospital, and accommodate more if needed.

But as the 100 rooms were being completed, homeless families continued appearing at a rate officials did not anticipate. Once again, the system was overwhelmed. One recent night, the city found itself paying motel rates for 211 families, four times the number in December.

At a Feb. 14 meeting of the city’s Interagency Council on Homelessness, Human Services director David Berns could only express bewilderment at the ever-growing need.

“I had no idea that the number of families facing homelessness would increase so much,” the director said. “Our original projection last year was that we would be able to handle everybody in D.C. General’s existing capacity.”

Street Sense is biweekly nonprofit newspaper publishing on issues pertaining to homelessness and poverty, sold by homeless individuals on the streets to help them earn an honest income. To donate directly to Street Sense, click here.

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