District’s Family Homeless Shelter Now Lead Free

D.C. General Homeless Shelter

Johnathan Comer

After a 9-month-old and a two-year-old staying at D.C. General family shelter tested positive for lead in their blood, a series of tests have been conducted at the hospital-turned-shelter.  One of the children tested for lead exposure before entering the shelter, but it is unclear if the other child was exposed to lead before entering the shelter or not. The new tests discovered lead in chips of paint on a window sill in D.C. General’s second floor cafeteria, reported The Washington Post. The area has been sealed off. The families staying in the shelter were notified immediately after the discovery and officials claim to have tested all rooms at the shelter, prioritizing rooms with children.

No other children have been contaminated, but because of D.C. General’s history of lead exposure an investigation was launched. In April of 2014, a lead inspection conducted by the Department of General Services detected lead  in four residential rooms. Those four rooms were restricted and now are lead-free. Five children in the past five years have tested positive for lead exposure, according to The Washington Post. Many of the residents at the shelter have expressed their concerns about this recent discovery.

During the 2014 lead inspection, D.C. officials were aware of the hazardous lead levels at the shelter but did nothing about it. All rooms tested positive for lead, but officials claimed that the levels were not dangerous.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention there are no safe blood lead levels for children. Because it has no outstanding symptoms lead exposure usually goes unrecognized.

By next year, Mayor Muriel Bowser is committed to close down D.C. General and replace it with smaller shelters.

Issues |Environment|Health, Physical|Shelters

Region |Southeast|Washington DC

information about New Signature, a Washington DC tech solutions and consulting firm


email updates

We believe ending homelessness begins with listening to the stories of those who have experienced it.