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Neighbors Still Skeptical Despite Overhaul of Plan for Ward 1 Shelter

by Tim Regan May 18, 2016 at 3:55 pm 10 Comments

(Updated at 4:16 p.m.) Though the D.C. Council voted yesterday to alter Mayor Muriel Bowser’s plan to close the D.C. General homeless shelter and open seven smaller shelters across the District, some Ward 1 residents remain skeptical.

Under the new plan initially approved by the D.C. Council, the city would build the new shelters on city-owned land as opposed to private land, meaning a change of location for three of the five proposed shelters. Though the proposed site of the Ward 1 shelter won’t change, the city will now work toward purchasing the land at 10th and V streets NW instead of leasing it as originally planned.

D.C. Councilmember Brianne Nadeau, an advocate of the proposed Ward 1 shelter, said in a statement the revised plan “responds to residents’ concerns and is much more fiscally responsible than the Mayor’s original plan.”

“Purchasing will save millions of tax dollars over the original plan to lease the land and will give the District permanent ownership of each site,” Nadeau continued. “Additionally, I introduced an amendment to today’s legislation that will hold the Ward 1 property owner accountable for any back taxes owed on vacant property that was misclassified. This was a very important issue for several of our nearby constituents, and I’m glad we have been able to address it.”

But members of a vocal protest group opposing the shelter remain skeptical of the deal despite the changes.

Tim Sulak, a resident who lives close to the proposed site, said that although pushing to own instead of leasing the land is a step forward, the deal still doesn’t add up to him. He questions why the city continues to involve developer Sorg Architects despite having potentially cheaper options.

“There is plenty of D.C./government owned land in the area,” he wrote in an email. “These shelters should go on these properties. They are already paid for and makes the most sense no matter where they are.”

Another local, who identified herself as “Mandy,” said she feels like the city hasn’t been forthcoming with residents.

“We haven’t been provided with options on where a shelter in Ward 1 could be located and what the total cost is for each site,” she wrote. “It still looks like there is public land available to build new homeless shelters that will cost less than purchasing private land.”

Mandy continued: “If owning land drives the cost down at the 10th and V St NW, then that’s likely a better alternative than renting it. However, it still looks like there is public land available to build new homeless shelters that will cost less than purchasing private land [as noted in this Washington Post article].”

Ward 1 resident Debby Prigal said that though she agreed “owning is better than leasing, there is still a serious risk that the taxpayer will be fleeced. They should not pay more than market rate for the land.”

Several other residents who didn’t want us to use their names shared similar comments. Most expressed concern over, as one of the activists said at a meeting last month, the plan to use “the homeless as a vehicle to deliver profits to just certain developers.” And all of the residents we talked seemed to say the same thing: the issue is far from over for them.

The D.C. Council will likely hold a final vote on the plan in June, reported the Washington Post.

  • BowserTheFingLiar

    Nadeau is useless. She was all for the original plan, too. Now she pretends to be doing something proactive for us? Which is what? Dumping homeless families and government workers on our doorstep, devaluing the only investment our family can afford, — a tiny, expensive home of our own; and adding over 100 needy people to an a street that is about to add 2,000 more residents in 2 years? It’s the most congested and inebriated part of the city at this point, thanks to the Council’s infinite stupidity and lack of forethought. Now we get to have a mismanaged government mess transplanted artificially to our community. And we get nothing in return for our losses. Brianne Nadeau and Mayor Muriel Bowser are the “F-ing liars” — the whole deal is a terrible idea. Throw the bums out, and I do mean the mayor and lousy council that are about to send us into ruin. Congrats to the billionaire developers who will get their coveted land from DC general so the Racist-Skins football lovers can have a new playground, free from the presence of “undesirable” homeless families.

    • Popeye

      The Skins will never play at the RFK site. That is a total red herring. You sure you aren’t just unhappy about having a shelter for homeless families in the neighborhood…because that’s what it sounds like.

      I support this shelter. And I am a 14-year homeowner 3 blocks from 10th and V.

      • Spike73

        I am a 15 year homeowner 1 block away from the site and I could care less about the Redskins, I do care about myself and my loved ones being put in harms way. This is not about poverty, it’s about mental illness, addiction, and having the services to get people out of crisis, something the city apparently can only do by paying off its friends as opposed to repurposing closed schools or other public buildings.

  • Spike73

    Thank you for reporting on the issue, as I am sure that many in the public may feel that the unapologetic corruption of the original proposal has been addressed by the council but in the case of Ward 1 that is still obviously not true.

    Throughout this process Brianne has fought tirelessly for the location at 10th and V and has lost the confidence of many of her constituents on the site location issue. Ms. Nadeau’s latest press release supporting the council measure is a dizzying example of spin, as anyone who has spoken to her on the issue can attest.

    There were so many things wrong about the Mayor’s proposal that it was natural for residents to focus on the corruption, which has been addressed in every other ward but somehow has been preserved in Ward 1. A bill that empowers the mayor to negotiate with the same individual that she previously agreed to richly reward for a lower take is still onerous. Furthermore the specifics of the location and the numerous changes in zoning that will be required to turn a historic asset and its adjacent land into Suman Sorg’s slightly modified condo building will be opposed for very sound reasons.
    To date nothing about this location has been about the homeless, the numerous modifications to turn a high end condo into a homeless shelter to reward a campaign contributor is obvious, this is a real estate deal and has little to nothing to do with the homeless.
    Finally when Bowser lost her temper and called Phil Mendleson a f**king liar about closing DC General she had a point, a point that would be completely negated if a city owned parcel is used instead of choosing an expensive, inappropriate, and inadequate site in yet another closed process to protect Suman Sorg, who everyone knows does not need protection.

  • Popeye

    Hmmm…these protests mostly revolved around a bad lease deal for the city, not because they didn’t want a family shelter in their neighborhood (or so they said). Now that the city will buy the property their complaints are changing. Go figure.

    • Spike73

      There are many layers to this rotten onion but you are right, residents who live near the proposed shelter site do not want a poorly planned shelter forced on them in a closed process where they have no say. There is public land available in Ward 1 that would be better suited to the shelter and would not be a sweetheart deal for Suman Sorg.

  • Dellisious

    Nadeau has disappointed me more than any other elected official that I have ever voted for. First, our neighborhood is already unsafe thanks to Garfield Terrace. When we were robbed last year of very valuable personal items, including an Iphone, the Iphone was literally turned on in a unit in Garfield Terrace after the robbery. Yet the police refused to seek a warrant. Later, our car was broken into, and the police officer literally blamed us for parking so close to Garfield Terrace. In every interaction we have had with the police, they have basically told us that (1) Garfield Terrace is the source of most crimes in the neighborhood, and (2) they cannot effectively police or investigate crimes that originate/emanate from Garfield Terrace. And yet Nadeau thinks that this neighborhood is the perfect spot to place a brand new homeless shelter just two blocks from Garfield Terrace? The only way that someone could actually believe this is if she doesn’t live in the neighborhood. Second, there has been a lot of talk about how allegedly selfish it is for us to care about losing more than our annual incomes in lost property values because Nadeau thinks our still-unsafe neighborhood is the perfect spot for a brand new homeless shelter. There is no insurance that we can buy for our naïve councilwoman placing a homeless shelter in the middle of our neighborhood – I wish there was. The solution to NIMBYISM is to make the local homeowners whole. There are two obvious ways to accomplish this. The first is to shutter Garfield Terrace. The second is to abate our property taxes for an amount equal to the decline in our property values. If this is too expensive, then the city should find a different place for the homeless shelter, since it’s obviously destroying more value than it’s worth. Further, after working near a homeless shelter for years, I’m offended by the notion that it’s somehow unethical for any of us to not want to live nearby one of these – literally everyone who can walks around the homeless shelter near where I work. And the reason is quite simple – no one wants to get harassed, assaulted, or robbed. Homeless folks are often mentally ill or addicted to drugs, rendering them unpredictable and often dangerous. There’s a good reason why no one wants to live nearby them – it’s unsafe. The long and the short of this issue is that Nadeau has severely failed us, and unless she has a change of heart, I will do everything in my power to end her career. Under the guise of combatting NIMBYISM, she has royally screwed her constituents. For shame.

    • Popeye

      Damn poor people. Who do they think they are?

      I find your post appalling. Truly. Please do us all a favor and just move somewhere you’ll feel “safe.”

      • Darius Hartwood

        Sorry you can’t handle the truth.

  • Spike73

    Why is it only called corruption in other wards? Seriously, the administration tries to bribe Sorg with a 14 million dollar payoff on a lease deal, when that gets shot down the same people are empowered to “negotiate” the purchase price starting at 2 million dollars more than when she tried to sell the property the last time.

    Brianne want’s the credit for making sure that Sorg has to pay the taxes she owed when she gets paid off when she’s been fighting all along to support Bowser’s onerous deal in the first place?
    Give us all a break.


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