Street Politics

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Newspapers. Photo by Michael Schwarzenberger // Pixabay

Homelessness Is on the Agenda for the Mayoral Race. Street Sense vendor and volunteer Donald Brooks joined the D.C. political press corps at Adrian Fenty’s June 1 announcement of his candidacy for mayor. Homelessness and affordable housing were among the issues Fenty recalled from his four-and-a-half years on the D.C. city council. And he told an upbeat crowd of supporters that both topics will figure in his campaign.

If Mayor Williams runs for reelection, he should give Fenty some competition on these issues, having promised new spending and initiatives in both areas.

Voters may see a debate on human needs as next year’s election approaches. Earlier this year, Fenty told Street Sense that his Human Services Committee will look at restructuring D.C.’s human services system. The committee’s oversight hearings are already starting that process. At his campaign kickoff, Fenty promised sustained attention, telling Brooks “I will continue my investigations, and see if I can solve some of the issues… through… possible reorganization.”

Homeless Washingtonians offered their views on their issues and the candidate. “Double-A,” a resident at CCNV, said he looks for candidates to address “statehood, housing, and the physical and mental welfare of D.C.’s less fortunate.” J.B. recalled questions from several years ago about Fenty’s oversight of a legal client’s affairs (a D.C. court handed the matter off to the Office of Bar Counsel for investigation) and wondered whether Fenty is ready to un the entire city. And Tobias, another CCNV resident, said that Fenty “has been standing alone on some government policies,” and called him “a man of conviction.”

Local policy on homelessness and other human needs has been in the news a good deal in the past year, and many people have welcomed the high profile. With a mayoral candidate chairing the Human Services Committee, and the mayor continuing to develop his 10-year plan to end homelessness, this focus can be expected to continue.

And Brooks remarked, “We’ll wait and see what other late entries to the mayor’s race might bring to the table these issues.”

David S. Hammond and Donald Brooks

Corcoran “Continuing with Plans” at Randall School. Corcoran spokeswoman Margaret Bergen said that the Corcoran museum and college of art intends to move ahead with its plans for the old Randall School in Southwest, despite the recent halt to plans for a new wing on the Corcoran’s downtown museum.

In early June, Bergen reported that although Corcoran has not yet purchased Randall, the property is under contract for sale to the museum. Final purchase is expected when the city has found a new space for artists currently using the property, and the Corcoran is actively reviewing renovation plans.

The Corcoran plans to move some of its art programs to the Randall facility, part of which the city used as a shelter for homeless men until last fall.

D.C. Homeless Services Reform Act… Moving Forward… The City Council has given preliminary approval to HSRA, but as of early June awaits the mayor’s fiscal impact statement. The act cannot receive final Council approval until the city reports favorably on its expected impact on the city’s budget. While some new funds have been earmarked for implementing the act, the mayor has not yet given the Council the go-ahead. Adrian Fenty, who chairs the committee that shaped HSRA and is also running for mayor, has made the act a priority.

It failed to win passage in 2004, amid city concerns over its potential costs. A final Council vote is expected in July.

David S. Hammond

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Issues |Political commentary|Shelters

Region |Washington DC

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