As Street Sense went to press, the city’s Interagency Council on Homelessness (ICH) approved a plan for protecting the homeless from dangerous conditions during the upcoming winter. The city is required by law to have the plan in place by Sept. 1.
The 2012-2013 winter plan differs from plans for previous winters in its emphasis upon moving homeless families out of shelters and into affordable housing. Shelter life is not conducive to helping people move out of poverty, according to Department of Human Services (DHS) Director David Berns.
“You can’t do very much for your employment, your schooling, your education until you’re in a stable environment,” Berns said.
The number of units for families in D.C. General, the former hospital which serves as the city’s main family shelter, has been set at 153 this winter. Currently there are 210 families housed at the facility and 26 families residing in motels. City officials say they plan to move those families into affordable housing in anticipation of the winter.
In case affordable housing units do not open up for families, D.C. General has 118 overflow units available. DHS will also resort to using hotel and motel rooms for additional families as it has in the past.
The winter plan for the upcoming winter also outlines changes in the city’s system for transporting homeless people to and from emergency shelters.
The Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency (HSEMA) will aim to announce hypothermia alerts by 3 p.m. each day so that homeless people can have time to get to the scheduled pick up areas.