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Rally calls for change at DC homeless shelter

The picture of this homeless man displays the shame of America not taking care of its own citizens. This tragic epidemic is increasing in America each year.
The picture of this homeless man displays the shame of America not taking care of its own citizens. This tragic epidemic is increasing in America each year.
Jason Doly/Getty Images

News sources reported about 100 people attended a rally for change at the D.C. General Family Homeless Shelter last evening. The rally was created and sponsored by the Washington Interfaith Network (WIN). Along with media attendance was Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham, who wants the shelter shut down by the end of the year.

WIN’s Facebook page felt a rally was necessary due to this –

Teams of WIN leaders have been connecting with DC General Residents especially over the last month. Over 600 children live at DC General. We have heard concerns about affordable housing, conditions at the shelter, lack of respect from city officials, and lack of updates and action in light of 8-year old Relisha Rudd being stolen from the shelter.

The homeless shelter has been rampant with problems for some time. Washington, D.C. station Fox 5 News (WTTG) did an investigation last month on the shelter. Below is information provided on the shelter.

The shelter has reached notoriety because of living conditions but mainly due to Relisha Rudd, the eight-year-old who was abducted by a janitor who worked there. The janitor, Kahlil Tatum, was later found dead from an apparent suicide in Kenilworth Park. Rudd now has been missing for three months.

The Washington Post reported the following of the rally in a recent article –

The rally was sponsored by the Washington Interfaith Network, a congregation-based community organizing group. Members of the organization said they had been visiting residents at the shelter in the past six weeks, and have been stunned by their stories.

On Tuesday, residents spoke of power outages and uncooked meat served in the cafeteria. One held up a sign saying, “No rats, no roaches.”

There have also been stories of no electricity in many rooms, lack of hot water, molded food and shortage of cribs for babies.

According to, more of the rally’s purpose was to make improvements for the shelter.

Some of these priorities include simple things like fixing flooding in the elevator, rat abatement and improving food quality. More complex is the demand to house 500 additional families in 100 days, construct a privately-funded playground and upgrade security.

Washington, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray in his 2015 budget has outlined the issue of homelessness and affordable housing in the District. On April 3, his commitment in these areas was announced and shown below.

Mayor Vincent C. Gray today released his Fiscal Year 2015 Proposed Budget and Financial Plan. The $10.7 billion budget makes a historic $116 million investment in public education, leverages the District’s continued strong fiscal stability to build on earlier investments in affordable housing, workforce development and improving the quality of life for all District residents..

Funding for the “500 Families, 100 Days” initiative to move 500 homeless families into permanent housing within 100 days, including a $1 million increase to the Emergency Rental Assistance Program and a $1 million increase to Rapid Rehousing;

Homelessness in Washington, D.C. and many areas in the United States are increasing each year and are an American epidemic and tragedy. Large urban city populations such as Baltimore, Philadelphia, Chicago and New York have seen an extensive increase in homelessness. Rural and suburban areas are also suffering. Much is blamed on past winter conditions where temperatures ran exceedingly low. However the weather, no matter how disastrous for some, should not be the cause of homelessness. States should implement more funding in their budgets to take care of citizens who need help due to the (still) economic downturn, lack of jobs and other reasons beyond a person’s control. The saddest part of all is the suffering children go through in a dilemma they should have no part of.

More on the Washington Post article on the rally is below.

Read Washington Post columnist Petula Dvorak’s article on the homeless crisis below.

This surprising and inspiring story is about a couple who met in a D.C. shelter, married, and now transforms lives due to their circumstances.

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