It’s 6 p.m. at the New York Avenue shelter, and the line is starting to form outside. It wraps around the corner, off the sidewalk and into an alley that runs behind the building. This is one of only three remaining low-barrier shelters for men in the city.
The chances of obtaining a place to lay your head there are minimal. No one is allowed in until after 7 p.m., but the line starts forming as early as 4 p.m., depending on the day. Once they run out of beds, around 6 p.m., you really don’t have choice. You are left out at God’s mercy, whether it’s raining, snowing or 100-degree weather.
A lot of people ask me why I don’t go to the shelters during day time, but little do they know that shelters are only open during specific periods of times.
The New York avenue shelter which is ran by Catholic Charities is just a total disaster, and that’s a compliment! How in the world is it allowed to exist on earth is still a mystery to me.
The shelter is home-away-from-home for bedbugs, mice, cockroaches and thieves that steal from the homeless. By that I mean security—the same people who are supposed to protect you will steal from a homeless person at the shelter. Security will confiscate anything that they deem to be dangerous at anytime. They make TSA look like little kids. They are so incompetent, unprepared to handle situations involving homeless people who are struggling with the ills of society. It is true, though, that many of them are unemployable and have trouble getting a job for life because of circumstances out of their control. Homeless people shouldn’t be treated like some sort of cattle. At one time, we were normal human beings like you. Life just comes at us in different ways.
For a place like that to be allowed to house hundreds of vulnerable human beings every night is both a disgrace and disrespect to both the city and human life as a whole. It’s sad no one has put up a fight against these sort of establishments that lie to the city and say they are providing every basic service to help homeless females, males and struggling families. The security and the special police that works is a complete joke. Security is never available, and the whole place is poorly run and dysfunctional; it’s so disorganized, not even the United Nations can save it.
It is disturbing and alarming that the city continues to fund Catholic Charities to operate something so hideous without any oversight whatsoever. And it’s sad that one of the only few shelters left for males is hidden all way out in Northeast. The staff routinely ignores complaints brought to them. And the case management that is said to be provided is nothing but laughable.
I am disappointed and angry that D.C. is allowed to put hundreds of men’s lives into the hands of the most incompetent staff on Earth.