D.C.’s Department of Human Services is planning to abandon the use of motels as homeless shelters, according to a report by the Washington City Paperon March 6.
The agency will completely stop the practice towards the end of 2020. According to an email sent by agency director Laura Zeilinger to unnamed “stakeholders”, the agency is going to exit four motel shelters by the end of next year.
“There are 14 percent fewer families in temporary shelter than this time last year. This year, we have fully exited from two motels and we are on track to fully exit from two more. Many stakeholders have asked about our timeline for reducing our reliance on motels, so I am sharing our projections below,” wrote Zeilinger.
Starting early this year, the agency already moved families out of two motel shelters – the Motel 6 on Georgia Avenue NW, and Ivy City Hotel on New York Ave. NE.
Zeilinger added that closing shelters for homeless at motels depends on a number of factors, “but achieving the goal hinges primarily on our ability to successfully prevent families from coming into our emergency shelter system by offering prevention services and by reducing the length of time that families spend in shelter.”
The city has been trying to reduce the use of motels as overflow shelters for several years, as it becomes difficult to provide all the required services to homeless families in these delapidated places.
Recently, Mayor Muriel Bowser closed the D.C. General, a former hospital that was used as a shelter by the city for the homeless people for years. The D.C. administration is planning to open new shelters in different wards to replace the D.C. General. More family shelters will also be opened in wards 3, 5, and 6. Ward 3 and 5 shelters are on schedule, according to Zeilinger. However, Ward 6 shelter is facing some construction delays and will not open until the fall.
According to the Washington City Paper, the city had to bear a cost of about $3,000 every month to house each homeless family at a motel. Advocates and many other people find motels inadequate to shelter and serve those people.