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Homeless shelter with no retail will hinder Anacostia

Anacostia residents are eager to create a vibrant main street. But plans to put a homeless shelter in the middle of the business district, especially one without any ground-floor retail component, would impede Historic Anacostia's progress.

Image from Google Street View.

Lydia DePillis reported in the Washington City Paper that Calvary Women's Services will be opening a women's homeless shelter at 1217-1219 Good Hope Road SE.

Though this project has been in the works for months, many community leaders learned of the shelter through an email blast from Chairman Kwame Brown last week.

I am a small business owner on the 2000 block of Martin Luther King Jr. Ave SE, which is around the corner from the proposed homeless shelter. My personal preference is to have more options for lunch and dinner in the business district.

While there is indeed a need for social services in the neighborhood, many residents east of the river worry that an overabundance of such facilities will stifle revitalization efforts. Chris Jerry, Vice President of the Fairlawn Citizens Association, stated, "Ward 8, and the portion of Ward 7 Fairlawn, soon to be redistricted to Ward 8, the areas closest to the bridges that begin or end east of the Anacostia River, have been overrun with social program facilities."

The homeless shelter would be right in the middle of the business district and less than a block from a methadone clinic, also location on Good Hope Road SE, which according to Mr. Jerry "serves addicts not only from DC, but suburban Virginia and Maryland too."

Over the last four years the 1200 Block of Good Hope Road has experienced some positive changes. ARCH Development Corporation open the Honfleur Art Gallery in 2007 to bring art to the community and display art of local residents through its annual East of the River show. The newly constructed Anacostia Gateway I, located at end intersection of Good Hope Road and Martin Luther King Jr Ave SE, opened in 2009.

The 1200 block of Good Hope is home to one of the original Capital Bikeshare Stations. As recent as last month a 24/7 Express Mart opened at 1223 Good Hope Rd SE.

Putting aside that the newcomer to the block is a homeless shelter, the larger question is why put a 100% residential building in the middle of a business district?

At its proposed location there could have been more creativity by making the project mixed-use. Calvary could locate a restaurant or retail business on the street level where the residents of the homeless shelter could have employment and gain some skills. The residences could be on the upper floor. This would allow for provision of social services and create jobs, while energizing the street level.

As if it is wasn't hard enough to get economic development East of the River, decisions like this make empty store fronts more unattractive for potential businesses. Main streets like Good Hope Road in Historic Anacostia should have commerce that creates employment and cultivates new businesses.

Veronica O. Davis, PE, has experience in planning transportation, urban areas, civil infrastructure, and communities. She co-owns Nspiregreen, LLC, an environmental consulting company in DC. She is also the co-founder of Black Women Bike DC, which strives to increase the number of Black women and girls biking for fun, health, wellness, and transportation. 


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It's amazing that when it comes down to money in their pocket, even folks in NE don't want social services for the poor in their neighborhoods. It's a NE NIMBYism.

Actually it's not surprising. What's surprising is that people in NW are chastised for hating poor people (or being racists) when they launch similar objections.

by GREAT on Aug 2, 2011 2:25 pm • linkreport

Downtown Anacostia, where commerce should be, is dominated/smothered by welfare/social service delivery. Commerce makes the world go ground. I know Jesus said the poor will always be with us -- but non-profits are not merchants, as I see it. We need merchants!

by Frederick Douglass Specter on Aug 2, 2011 2:31 pm • linkreport


So I'm curious: What if all of DC's social services were in, say, Trinidad? Every time a new program came online, they just built it in Trinidad. Anyone in need of shelter, methadone, etc, etc... we'd just direct them to Trinidad.

Is there a point at which the residents of Trinidad would be justified in saying, "Okay, we're doing enough! How about putting some of this stuff elsewhere in the city?"

by oboe on Aug 2, 2011 2:32 pm • linkreport

a restaurant or store operated by homeless people that live upstairs? that actually sounds like a great idea. I imagine the community would be more apt to support something that puts the homeless to work. As long as it maintains a high standard of quality.

I wonder if it has been done elsewhere succesfully.

by cmc on Aug 2, 2011 2:35 pm • linkreport

Well, DC Central Kitchen operates many of its programs out of the Federal City Shelter, including (I think) its Fresh Start catering and dining services, which train homeless and/or unemployed individuals for jobs in foodservice. Some model like that (albeit on a smaller scale) could work.

by Jacques on Aug 2, 2011 2:45 pm • linkreport

Already in or around Historic Anacostia commercial district from 17th & Good Hope to MLK & Chicago Street.

UPO (social services)
Bread for the City (social services)
Unity Health Clinic (social services)
Whitman Walker (social services)
DC Govt Welfare processing office (social services)
Young People AA (social services)
Marion Barry field office (social services)
Good Hope Institute (Heroin users services)

Vacant buildings & lots (a lot)

Banks (SunTrust, PNC, Bank of America)

Commerce other than dollar stores, cash checking, liquor, and cosmetic/hair related = (Funeral Home(s), Fire Side Jamaican spot, Uniontown B&G, Big Chair Coffee (struggling because of poor service and quality), SunBelt Rentals, Anacostia Vet Clinic, Maple View Deli, Astro Motors, maybe a couple others.

Handful of non-profits, a church storefront or two, etc.

by I stay in 801 East on Aug 2, 2011 2:48 pm • linkreport

I have to agree with Great a bit here. I can see why the Anacostia boosters would feel negatively about this, but it brings to mind all the protests when a yoga joint or wine store come in. I too have my dream list of stores I'd like in my hood, but I'm not the one putting up the cash.

I still feel like they need to liberalize the zoning laws and at the same time have a stricter form based code to ensure a nice build-out of these areas. As to the businesses that come in...easy come and easy go.

by Thayer-D on Aug 2, 2011 2:57 pm • linkreport

I'm going to go all Richard Layman here and say that the problem is that we've never created a city-wide plan for social services. So things get dropped in where they're easy and that is often next to other similar things. Hence the problem with New Hill East and, possibly, this neighborhood.

It was the same way with all the gay strip clubs in near SE.

by David C on Aug 2, 2011 2:58 pm • linkreport

CMC- Yes, it has. Carrboro, NC has Club Nova Thrift Store, which is:

1. In the walkable downtown core of town.
2. Adjacent to both commercial (Wendy's) and residential (housing for individuals who work at Club Nova Thrift Store)
3. A workplace/social reintegration opportunity for folks recovering

More on the store:

And on the mission:

by CityBeautiful21 on Aug 2, 2011 2:59 pm • linkreport

I think the community feels violated and betrayed and rightly so.

If this was really on the up and up and if Anacostia residents have nothing to fear why has this gone seven months in the process and no one notified the community or even the ANC? This only came to light after the email from Chairman Brown. Why was the ANC the last to know? Why were the businesses on the street the last to know? Why are we (the community) always the last to know?

It's a little hard to believe that this HOMELESS SHELTER would be integrated into the fabric of Anacostia's BUSINESS DISTRICT when it's neighbors and business owners were not even consulted let alone informed about it beforehand.

I don't even think people in Anacostia and in Ward 8 have such a problem with a homeless shelter. They do (and rightly so) have concerns about it being inserted smack dab into their fledging business center, on main street, doors down from the gateway of the very neighborhood already saturated with 8+ such social service centers. We already have social service programs on main street -- including a methadone clinic -- we can not take anymore. We don't mind doing "our part" but why does Ward 8 always seem to have the shoulder an unbalanced burden for the rest of the city? The lack of businesses = lack of job which = increased unemployment.

We want things to improve in Ward 8 and East of the River. We can't continue to crowd all the social service organizations into one area and expect that community to thrive - we are barely suriving. We do not have the density to absorb another big block social service organization.

BTW -- In Congress Heights, up the street from Anacotia, on our main street we have a homeless shelter (801 East) run by Catholic Charities and they have left us holding the bag. The homeless people have no where to go during the day so they are left to loiter, drink, and do drugs on our streets and in our parks. MLK Ave in Congress Heights looks more like Skid Row than a business district. This is not a paranoid NIMBY-ism this is first hand experience with the shelters and group homes already in our neighborhood. It's been four years and we can't even get DPW to give us public trashcans to battle the litter from the homeless shelter.

Everyone involved in this process should have known better and they knew better. This more of the same okey doke. No way this went along this far and no one knew about it. I (and my neighbors) would be very interested to see who signed off on this project and who wrote letters of support for the grant. Putting a homeless shelter next door to a day care makes no sense.

Please stop strapping boulders on our backs, throwing us in the ocean and expecting us to swim.

I think the community might have been open to a shelter -- JUST NOT ON MAIN STREET -- if they had been approached. At this point I don't think anything short of canceling this project is going to fix this and will still be a long way of of making residents suspicious of future "surprises."

by The Advoc8te on Aug 2, 2011 3:02 pm • linkreport

Classic Nimbyism. These are vital services, but just don't put them in my neighborhood. It's funny to see how once a neighborhood starts to see a little upward mobility, all of a sudden such services have to get placed in places a little further on down the economic food chain. I'm not saying the poster is wrong-- it's just funny how predictable this all is.

by BS_Dawg on Aug 2, 2011 3:04 pm • linkreport

There are some good points here, but this whole discussion kind of makes my skin crawl. This is why urbanists are seen as elitist. After years of the city tearing down homeless shelters and leaving the city's most vulnerable residents even more vulnerable, we're now talking about a new shelter as just another urban amenity, comparing its utility in a neighborhood to coffeeshops and boutiques.

Yes, the city is ghettoizing these services, and yes, Anacostia deserves a chance to revitalize its downtown. But let's have this conversation with a little bit of understanding of the fact that we privileged urbanists share this city with an underserved community with tremendous need. And let's balance our need for another gallery or wine bar against their need for basic shelter.

And @Great, Anacostia is in Southeast, FYI.

by Tanya on Aug 2, 2011 3:10 pm • linkreport

@Jacques, (re: cmc) the restaurant / organization I believe you are referring to is called New Course (3 and D Street NW) I think this is a great idea that could work elsewhere in the District.

It could be argued that the people who hope to construct this facility believe that most of their clients live in the area and likely would not travel to the far hinterlands of wards 3 or 4. Also, considering the side of the space and the cost of acquiring a space that size elsewhere in the District could prove cost prohibitive.

That said, I feel that the concentration of such facilities does have an economic effect. The distribution of homeless shelters and drug clinics should have some logical basis and not be placed in areas purely on the economic or location benefits.

by Randall M. on Aug 2, 2011 3:11 pm • linkreport

3 points:

1. DC Central Kitchen is a wonderful nonprofit.
2. This stretch of Good Hope sounds saturated with social services.
3. Someone please tell me how the Council Chair knows about things in Ward 8, but the CouncilMember of that Ward does not.

by greent on Aug 2, 2011 3:11 pm • linkreport

@Tanya... While a "typical" urbanist frame may be coffee shops or boutiques, I specifically gave a suggestion on how social services can be integrated to provide energy at the street level while creating jobs for people who need those services.

by Veronica O. Davis (Ms V) on Aug 2, 2011 3:20 pm • linkreport

Re NIMBYism, most of the employees, leadership and sponsors of these groups live no where near these services. Look at the recent critical op-ed about Truxton Circle in the Washington Post as an example. The author lamented that the neighborhood didn't welcome all these services with open arms from his armchair all the way out in Reston, VA. During the recent LAYC/Cook School testimony in December every single representative from organizations supporting the project did not live in the neighborhood. In fact most lived out in the suburbs. Yet, they felt the need to yell NIMBY.

Furthermore, there is often an arrogance from these groups towards the community that they know what's best. There is little to no engagement an often an effort to hide projects from public scrutiny until the last possible moment.

For everyone yelling NIMBY that actually lived in DC, how many services exist within two blocks of your house? How often do those services attend local civic/ANC meetings except when forced ?

by Mike on Aug 2, 2011 3:24 pm • linkreport


Yes, the city is ghettoizing these services, and yes, Anacostia deserves a chance to revitalize its downtown. But let's have this conversation with a little bit of understanding of the fact that we privileged urbanists share this city with an underserved community with tremendous need. And let's balance our need for another gallery or wine bar against their need for basic shelter.

Why is it exactly that Ward 8 should eat all of the negative externalities that go along with mass concentration of social services (forgoing development, after all they just got their first sit down restaurant), so that Georgetown, or Palisades, or Chevy Chase can open another wine bar or coffee shop? Frankly, I think Ward 8 residents have a right to argue that they're already doing more than enough. That's not NIMBYism. That's fairness.

Furthermore, why is it that DC residents should have to listen to lectures about how we're all a bunch of "privileged urbanists" who don't care about those in need when in fact DC takes care of far and away more of the region's poor and homeless than our neighboring jurisdictions. On a per capita basis, it's not even close.

So... to those who would point the finger at Ward 8 (or other areas of DC with massed concentration of poverty and services) and say they're shirking their responsibility? Stuff it. They're already carrying a greater share of the regional poverty load than anyone else in the region.

And to those who perennially tut-tut at DC residents for not doing enough to combat poverty. Save it. For the same reason as above.

by oboe on Aug 2, 2011 3:30 pm • linkreport

I can't help but think this is a bit of a chickens-coming-home-to-roost issue. Pretty consistently, communities raise their hackles when a for-profit enterprise attempts to open up, particularly if it is something like a sit-down restaurant and/or if alcohol is to be served. Part of the complaint is that the owner of the business is going to enrich himself at the expense of the community. So what's left? A nice non-profit that won't make money off anyone. It just happens to be a homeless shelter.

by JustMe on Aug 2, 2011 3:35 pm • linkreport

Well said Oboe!

And if might chime in, "Double stuff it!"

P.S. I am going to go down to that block right now and photograph everything. Tell me if we are not already giving enough.

by The Advoc8te on Aug 2, 2011 3:36 pm • linkreport

Personally, I can do w/o shelter or any social service program designed for this area. I don't like the idea of a MUD here. Sorry if that makes me a NIMBY.

@Thayer, I don't think it's unreasonable to consider that the potential loss of new business is affected more by a shelter than a yoga studio or wine shop. The latter two help draw more businesses while the former does not at all.

@TheAdvocate, I can't recall when the building was purchased but will assume that this was partly decided before the new administration came into office. Somehow this project may have been lost in the shuffle and IMO, the best person to ask WTF would be Marion Barry.

Tanya, who among Ward 8 residents would be considered urbanist elitists? IMO, this has nothing to do with urbanism or elitism. It does have to do with mass concentrations of good/services in poorer areas of the city that do little to move said areas progressively forward. You wouldn't convert part of G'town mall into a shelter and not expect the area to experience some negative consequences. Ward 8, my ward, can't afford it.

@JusMe, we're not talking about other communities around the country. We're talking southeast DC and our chickens have been rotisseried gold for some time now. It is not as if we don't have our share of programs and problems directly related to those programs. I don't recall much/any community opposition to new restaurants opening in Ward 8. I certainly don't recall any complaints about how new Ward 8 business owners are going to enrich themselves at the expense of the community.

A nice nonprofit homeless women's shelter located in a struggling (yet rebounding) central business district? And the blueprint success for such is found where in DC again?

by HogWash on Aug 2, 2011 4:00 pm • linkreport

@Oboe.... you've said a mouthful and a little extra.

by Veronica O. Davis (Ms V) on Aug 2, 2011 4:07 pm • linkreport

oboe: Interestingly enough, a methodone clinic in Trinidad recently shut down, a proposed battered women's shelter never was able to get off the ground, and housing for youth offenders (sponsored in some way by Peaceaholics) didn't materialize either. Meanwhile, we've had a diner open, another on the way, and a few art galleries. Apparently Trinidad is doing a good job at NIMBYing lately...

by Geoffrey Hatchard on Aug 2, 2011 4:07 pm • linkreport

IMO, this has nothing to do with urbanism or elitism. It does have to do with mass concentrations of good/services in [the District] that do little to move said areas progressively forward. You wouldn't convert part of [Reston Town Center] into a shelter and not expect the area to experience some negative consequences. Washington DC, my city, can't afford it.

by oboe on Aug 2, 2011 4:09 pm • linkreport

@Hogwash... MUD would be more palatable, if done right. I was exploring possibilities as a planner. As a business owner in that area, I'm over the over-concentration of social services. I'd like to see more business supportive services like a Fed-Ex/Kinkos w/a notary, more options to have business lunches/dinner, and maybe an office supply store. We need retail that business can support AND that would provide jobs to local residents.

by Veronica O. Davis (Ms V) on Aug 2, 2011 4:17 pm • linkreport

@HogWash @TheAdvoc8te

Purchased 1/6/2011 for $950k

by ruSERIOUSINGme on Aug 2, 2011 4:30 pm • linkreport

V, I should have clarified. I don't want to see a MUD w/a homeless shelter as one of the tenants.

MUD's (if done right) are great. I thought Sherdian Station was going to be a MUD but seems like it won't.

by HogWash on Aug 2, 2011 4:32 pm • linkreport

I wonder would the area eventually support a MUD @Anacostia station. Right now it's likely too many negatives but it's a great location w/excellent access to major roadways.

@RUserious, thanks for info. It seems more likely that this was at least proposed and partly funded during the last administration

by HogWash on Aug 2, 2011 4:35 pm • linkreport

Without even reading the comments, the issue is how urban design is done or not done in the city, and how planning and zoning work, and whether or not the process is designed to work for longer term goals. Mostly it isn't. DC developments involving govt. funding to social service and community development organizations tend to be very much "urban renewal" influenced and don't end up achieving a lot of long term value.

In 2007, I attended a great workshop at the Nat. Main St. conference (Ms. Davis, you should go to the conf. next year, it's in Baltimore) in Seattle on their "neighborhood business district strategy." At the time they hadn't fully executed all the pieces, but one was a mapping of all blocks in commercial districts, with a rating of places and uses, and only allow A uses to be in A locations, etc. DC's zoning process in commercial districts is too gross-grained for this.

Anyway, if you are going to be advocates on the issue, I recommend this source/project as a model:


Note that back in 2002 when we fought DC DHCD and the H St. CDC on a similar kind of issue, we lost, and had no support from DHCD, although the DMPED office was supportive, but ultimately couldn't get the CDC to change their perspective, even though they were willing to provide money to the CDC to build a multistory building.



by Richard Layman on Aug 2, 2011 4:39 pm • linkreport

I just spoke to Barry's office and they swear they had not heard of this until Kwane's press release. I know the developers in the area didn't know because I know several people who were interested in that property. Last time I spoke to someone from DHCD a few weeks ago they weren't hearing back from the bank. They didn't know it had been sold. Either someone us lying or they really snuck this in under the radar.

by The Advoc8te on Aug 2, 2011 4:42 pm • linkreport

Calvary Women's Services and Pathways are two well established organizations here in DC. I've been working with them for years. They've been looking to expand for much of that time, and I often see people turned away for lack of space in the small facilities. However, its the explosion of new retail in the neighborhood they currently serve, Chinatown, that's prevented them from expanding there.

A while back we volunteers filled out a survey about what we were looking for in a new location, and among the results I recall "metro access" being a big necessity, and the location on a major road reflects, in part, the need for that.

by Patrick on Aug 2, 2011 4:52 pm • linkreport

"Calvary Women's Services and Pathways are two well established organizations here in DC."

Then they should have known better and while I can appreciate them surveying their volunteers they could have done a survey of the many people on Anacostia and Ward 8 who work so hard to advocate for and uplift their community. To give it a shot to be much more than cheap land for another social services agency to do their business.

Choosing our MAIN STREET for this large shelter without even consulting us - the people who actually live here was such a slap in the face and that is what has people over here riled up and rightly so. The nerve.

by The Advoc8te on Aug 2, 2011 5:03 pm • linkreport

I would wager it's a bit of both. Somebody's lying and obviously this was an under the table deal.

In order to secure financing for the eventual purchase of the property, they most certainly had to get their ducks in order. Wouldn't it require (in some part) the city's resources? If Barry didn't know that a shelter was opening in his own Ward, then shame on him (or his staff). If even he was bamboozled, then that's an even greater problem. And if DCHD didn't know the daggone building was even sold, then shame on them as well. Some major shiggidity is going down here.

@Patrick, I would imagine most social service programs would like to be positioned in areas close in promimity to transit.

by HogWash on Aug 2, 2011 5:10 pm • linkreport

Veronica, I would agree in principle that it's not a good idea to concentrate a large social service infrastructure in one small area, but have you had a chance to speak to actual business owners about the proposition of operating a business on the ground floor of a homeless shelter? Do you think they would be open to hiring homeless people? Would you be open to hiring homeless people in your own small business?

In Adams Morgan, there is a homeless shelter in the middle of a business district -- it is called Christ House and does just fine. I understand your reticence to taking on another social service, but I do have to wonder how many new shops or restaurants would need to open up before you would green light a homeless shelter? I think it is a slippery slope as the more private businesses in the area, the less likely they are to support a homeless shelter in the immediate vicinity.

by Scoot on Aug 2, 2011 5:23 pm • linkreport

@Scoot: That's one service. Anacostia already has the methadone clinic a few doors down so following your example, they're done.

@Patrick: How many of your volunteers currently live next to the operating facilities? For your target population, how are they currently dispersed? Is this overflow from existing shelters implying you will be bringing a new population to Anacostia, or will a majority of your residents come from the surrounding blocks?

by m on Aug 2, 2011 6:31 pm • linkreport

Patrick, are you referring to pathways to housing? Link?

by h street landlord on Aug 2, 2011 7:44 pm • linkreport

I'm pretty stunned by this reaction to a group that has been such an important resource for so many Washingtonians. Calvary is for women escaping violence and broken homes. I hope the ladies don't see this post. Poor class GGW. Veronica, I'd love to introduce you to our volunteer coordinator, so you can meet the residents, see their current facility, and see why this is so necessary.

@m: Most of the volunteers I know live in NE, but a lot of them are from student groups and church groups in NW, even some from Montgomery and PG. I got involved in Calvary when they reached out to the Take Back The Night organization at my school, looking for male volunteers to help the residents that associated men with sexual violence.

@The Advoc8te: I first heard about the possibility of this location almost two years ago. I'm surprised their work hasn't received more publicity, but why do they need your permission anyways? I hope your never responsible for any zoning decisions. I'm left speechless by the statement that "somebody's lying and obviously this was an under the table deal." The organization has been fundraising for years in the hope of someday opening a new place.

by Patrick on Aug 2, 2011 8:18 pm • linkreport

I've spent plenty of time in area homeless shelters and charities. While I don't think that makes my opinion any more pertinent to some people it matters.

That said, I can see how a shelter here at this time may not be the best idea. This is an area thats doing all it can to not be seen as the ghetto to the rest of the region and as a place that someone would actually want to visit/live. While the presence of a homeless shelter isn't (or shouldn't) be a deterrent for anyone it can create a hole in the urban fabric in a neighborhood that needs a lot of things to go right all at once in order to propel the neighborhood forward. This is different when neighbors in an already established neighborhood (like in petworth? I could be wrong) and neighborhoods are against it. The building should be mixed use or have some sort of storefront component (like martha's table on 14th nw).

by Canaan on Aug 2, 2011 8:43 pm • linkreport

@Scoot... The information is all new so I don't know if business owners would hire homeless people. I own an engineering firm, so if a person had the education, credentials, and experience I would give them an opportunity. I was referring to Calvary setting up something (eatery or what have you) on the main level that livens up the street.

Adams Morgan has a homeless shelter in a business district. That's one homeless shelter to how many restaurants, stores and businesses?

@Patrick.... There's a huge difference between we don't want a homeless shelter and we don't want a homeless shelter in a business district main street. For example Gospel Ministries is near a metro station in bustling Chinatown, but it's not on the main commercial strip of 7th Street NW.

I think to say we have "poor class" isn't a fair characterization. I do not question the validity or necessity of their work. I think the location is a poor choice.

Feel free to have the coordinator contact me. Not sure how familiar you are with the area, but I'd like to extend an invitation to walk the area mid-day and again in the evening.

by Veronica O. Davis (Ms V) on Aug 2, 2011 9:54 pm • linkreport

Reading Lydia's follow up on what NIMBY means to her she basically said that the word shouldn't have a value that one can be a NIMBY with good intentions. I've never thought of it that way but I guess in case I'll claim it (though I don't live in DC even).

Then I see the debate about short term/long term for the neighborhood itself. Should the short term needs of fifty homeless women come before the long term needs of a slowly revitalizing neighborhood/main commercial strip? (Assuming that it even would)? I can see arguments for either one and while the building is already bought and it may be too late these are questions we should ask.

by Canaan on Aug 2, 2011 11:33 pm • linkreport

I can understand the neighbor concern. Especially since apparently Calvary considers themselves above having to communicate with neighbors.

If there's no communication on this, does anyone think this group will communicate well with neighbors on other issues that are sure to arise?

Beyond that, though, I do have to say that this area keeps election Marion Barry. So in some ways you get what you ask for. Barry has been at the forefront of making sure DC stays in such a condition where social services are so prevalent. He's been a great advocate for DC providing social services for the entire region, never arguing for the suburbs to begin shouldering their fair share.

And his policies and rhetoric have helped maintain DC (and his ward in particular) in the sorry state that it has been in for so long, making for neighborhood conditions where social services are able to retard neighborhood growth and stability.

The biggest impact? Barry has long advocated a disrespect for policing that makes what should be a benign and positive use like a homeless shelter into a major neighborhood issue, when issues like panhandling, drug use, etc. that often follow homeless shelters are not addressed properly.

I realize not everyone votes for Barry, but it sure sucks when voting has consequences, doesn't it?

by Hillman on Aug 3, 2011 7:33 am • linkreport

Good write up Ms. v.

And good responses oboe and hogwash.
I do think the community needs to develop a plan for where they want future providers like this, though. As the city continues to become more expensive, more agencies will be looking EOTR.

Really as others have said we need a region wide plan so that dc doesn't have a disproportionate share.

by h street landlord on Aug 3, 2011 9:36 am • linkreport

@Patrick, I'm pretty stunned by this reaction to a group that has been such an important resource for so many Washingtonians.

Really? In that case it seems reasonable to conclude that the community had little to no input here and Calvary failed to do much outreach. There's no other way to explain how you're "shocked" to know that this shelter wouldn't be received in this area with tea and crumpets.

This dissonance is further demonstrated by you asking TheAd "why" they needed her permission. Besides the fact that she never suggested that they needed "her" permission, she happens to be a resident of Ward 8 and as such, is able to weigh in/give approval to any development that happens in A N Y part of our Ward, just as those in other parts of the city.

It's unfortunate that you're offended by the notion that we think it's some shiggity going on here. You seem to have more knowledge about the decision to move to Anacostia than those of us who live in the area. Who or what groups have been your community contacts for this project? Maybe that'll help us get to the bottom of things and not allow misinformation to be disseminated into the public domain. Because as of y'day, even the Ward 8 councilmember claims to have no previous knowledge of the project and as of today, you're surprised no one knew.

Since you seem to be the only person here affiliated with Calvary, it would be great to see the name of a few of those community groups/reps.

Thanks :)

by HogWash on Aug 3, 2011 10:00 am • linkreport


You're post represents the sheer and unbridled fascination with all things Marion Barry and why he continues to win over and over and over and over again.

In sum, Marion Barry ultimately shares the blame for this because he has long advocated for increased social services.


Canaan, Lydia's response was just as ridiculous as the original.

by HogWash on Aug 3, 2011 10:06 am • linkreport

Hogwash: Yes, Barry is fascinating.

Vince Gray, on the other hand, is going to do more damage to DC as Barry is capable of currently, but he's not nearly as interesting to watch. He just hasn't mastered the art of the astonishing soundbite like Barry has.

by Hillman on Aug 3, 2011 10:09 am • linkreport

LOL, riggght. And when the attacks on Barry regarding this, are shown to be ridiculous, move to the next best thing Vincent Gray, who also has nothing to do with this story.

by HogWash on Aug 3, 2011 10:45 am • linkreport


For those of who view and comment on the problems of the poor from an altitude of 30,000 feet or from your ivory towers let me break it down.

Unlike homeless men, who are often in the streets because of substance abuse/mental health issues, homeless women (who have their share of substance / mental health issues) are driven to homelessness because of domestic violence issues.

This shelter should be in a residential area, that is more secluded that can let these women come and go without the eyes of the streets, the passing buses, etc. on them. The streets watch and they talk. This is not a good spot for women who are trying to evade a guy who has threatened their life. Look at our city's homicides -- a fair amount are domestic violence in nature.

(Also -- this shelter is next to a childcare spot and an AA building. If a young women is trying to get off drugs - being next to an AA spot isnt helpful although you might think it is but the drug dealers make the most hanging by AA spots. Most of the time the people go to meetings and let their high wear off.)

I have a friend. Her children's father was so crazy that he went to the point of firing a gun at her. She had left him. He tracker her down. When he found her he emptied his whole clip. Thank God, she wasn't hit. Our justice system only locked him up for less then 3 years. Then when he gets out his PO gives him her address (the address of their kids). The dude then goes to the apt building. He sees her car and destroys it. He then gets into the building and breaks down the door. He chokes her out and threatens to kill her. She has to leave her job and re-locate. Meanwhile the guy has a new warrant for his arrest. He's out here right now and he's looking to kill her.

This might be a worst case example but yet in still I dont think putting this place on the main strip in Ana is going to help these young women trying to ESCAPE these situations.

Not a good look.

by I live in the streets of the southside on Aug 3, 2011 10:47 am • linkreport

Calvary Women's Shelter
928 5th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001
Phone: (202) 289-2111
Fax: (202) 216-0301

Administrative Office
110 Maryland Avenue, NE #103
Washington, DC 20002
Phone: (202) 548-0595
Fax: (202) 548-0597

by Frederick Douglass Specter on Aug 3, 2011 11:00 am • linkreport


I am generally a good and reasonable person but if I hear one more thing about this has been in the works for "years" and yet Calvary didn't even bother to include anyone in Anacostia (or anywhere as we can tell) then I am going to lose it.

I wish I and my neighbors could be so cavalier about this but then again we aren't just "volunteering" or doing our "work study" in Anacostia just so we can go home to our nice neighborhoods sans shelters next door. Our main street is already saturated with these types of services and organizations. In the case of the viability of our business district there really isn't room for one more.

I wish I could have been so forgiving of what Hogwash accurately called "shiggity." This was platinum level shiggity. End of story. It looks bogus because it is bogus.

This 14,000 sf shelter will have a 24/7 childcare center on one side and a rehab support center on the other side. What shiggity is this? If someone from Calvary reached out to the community (not the other way around) they would have known this was short-sighted and frankly an insult to the work people are doing in Anacostia to bring businesses to the corridor so we could have jobs that could support the homeless and other social service recipients that we are currently supporting -- with no help. We have a shelter in Congress Heights and as a community we get 0 support, 0 aid, but plenty of loitering.

Screw us if you must but please don't ask us to be excited or thankful about it. We are not that ignorant or that desperate. Sometimes there are worse things than a vacant building.

We live here -- this is not a social experiment for us. We own homes here, we have businesses here we can't just move. We are invested here in more ways than dollars. Just because you can afford it doesn't mean you should buy it.

Have video of last night's ANC 8A meeting (where no one from Calvary bothered to show up) where the community is united in not wanting this at all on Good Hope Rd.

The land may be cheap but our community has value -- to us -- the people who actually LIVE here.

I don't mean to sound harsh but I have just about had it with people (regardless of how well meaning) being so generous with my neighborhood while they lay there head elsewhere.

by The Advoc8te on Aug 3, 2011 11:11 am • linkreport

As a resident of the area where this is happening, I honestly don't know what to think. I'm in my mid 20s, a homeowner, married, and am dying to see the area improve. At the same time I think we, the residents, must be a bit more realistic as a whole. For those who have commented that actually live in the area, we all know it's going to take some time before things really change and its coming along. I'm personally encouraged by the construction occurring across from the Anacostia metro station, the 295/395 ramp construction project, homeland security's future arrival, and Skyland Town Center. At the end of the day, the population make up of the area must change. No, I'm not inferring that we need more of any kind of race but I am saying we need more working individuals with household incomes of 60k+ to move in and start living. Once that happens, then businesses can start moving in. I think it would be naive of us to believe that any majority of businesses would want to open in our neighborhood with our current economic demographic make-up. Lets continue to do the right things, such as make our neighborhoods friendly and inviting and putting away any bias any of us may have for one type of individual moving into our long as they have money. We must practice and preach tolerance.

by StringsAttached on Aug 3, 2011 11:15 am • linkreport

Would you rather it was next to your house instead of in the business district? If there's an overconcentration, zoning relief is required. If not, it's not that the city decided to move it there, it's that they bought the modestly priced building in an area where there are needs. Nice idea about ground level retail and working with them, but you'd probably have better luck if you reached out to them on that instead of writing bad things about not wanting them in the area online.

by WDC on Aug 3, 2011 11:21 am • linkreport

Y'all want more homeless shelters in the suburbs?

I live in fairfax cty. Our county has a program to allow developers density bonues in exchange for affordable units, and it has a program to build affordable units on county land near FFX govt center for county employees and others.

These programs are getting attacked by the Fairfax County GOP, who are convinced Sharon Bulova and other dems on the council are socialists. Some of us in FFX cty and elsewher WANT to do the right thing, but the politics out here is insane. Why dont some of y'all support the progressive pols in the suburbs with your $$ and/or time? It would make more difference than hectoring your local DC pols.

If we cant even defend such basic moderate programs as I have mentioned above, how are we going to get the suburbs to take in their share of the truely poor?

by AWalkerITheCity on Aug 3, 2011 11:32 am • linkreport


Right, but it's the suburbs that have experienced the greatest share of poverty over the last decade or so. Of course there's a moral obligation that suburbanites do their fair share in taking care of the region's poor (an obligation they're incredibly bad at fulfilling, usually resorting to the argument that poor people are by nature urban people), but there's also a self-interest.

Suburban poverty is growing in two ways: first, the current residents are becoming poorer as the economy tanks; second, the urban poor are increasingly moving to the suburbs for the same reason the middle-class did: cheaper housing, better schools, services, etc...

It's only a matter of whether they're going to handle that gracefully, or have it be a total shit-show. Increasingly it looks like the latter.

by oboe on Aug 3, 2011 11:57 am • linkreport

there are suburbs and there are suburbs. While Fairfax has gotten a lot more diverse, its housing remains expensive and not particularly affordable - if "let em live in the city" doesnt work, "let em live in PG, or in Prince William" does. Without regard to what that means in transportation costs for the poor, or delivery of services.

I guess my point is that it makes sense to not want all social services and low income housing for the region in DC. But just limiting it in the district wont achieve that. The political issues in the affluent suburbs have to be dealt with head on. To the extent that new city dwellers are urbanites who have left the suburbs, or at least the sort of people who in another age would have lived in the suburbs, their loss matters out here. Where once the suburbs were where all middle class people, or all white middle class people, or at least all middle class people with children lived, to a growing extent the affluent suburbs are becoming a self selected community of people who consciously REJECT communitarian socio-politico values - this includes nativists and tea partiers, but also certain relatively affluent new immigrants who are particularly hostile to the less successful. The FFX county GOP, IIUC, used to be polite country club repubs, more or less. Today its got a large extremist component.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Aug 3, 2011 4:42 pm • linkreport

Wow. A group that raises its own money, buys a derelict building (with no city money)which had been empty for many years, and prior to that was a boozing dance hall, and everyone goes wild. Shelters are required to be in commercial zoning, and Calvary is currently across the street from a very well to do condo project on 5th NW. The condo residents likely don't know it is there. The women at Calvary are busy attending life skills classes during the day, and learning to return to independent living.

No one should pretend that if this project were neatly tucked away in a residential neighborhood (contrary to DC zoning), that everyone would be clicking their heels.

Calvary serves some of Washington's most underserved population, and does it with very little money, on a shoe string, in true Christian spirit. Someone said we don't judge the quality of societies by how well their grandest citizens live, but by how they treat their most in need. Calvary does that work, very low key, doesn't beg the city for money, and pays its own way.

The organization returns a woman to independent living once every five days. This program is not a warehouse for people we wish we didn't have to see on the sidewalk. Calvary has paid life skills and paid mental health counseling, with dedicated caseworkers and mental health professionals to get these women back into independent living. Guess what? Many of the women in the shelter grew up in Ward 8. They travel by bus. They are not going to Reston Town Center to stay in a mythical shelter out there.

The women at Calvary are not coming and going every night. Calvary is not an overnight homeless warehouse type shelter. DC runs enough of those, and if anyone has ever visited one, they can attest that DC's overnight shelter is a good approximation of Hell and the injustice we tolerate in the world.

When GHR revitalizes to the point someone wants to open a Starbucks there, I am sure the population Calvary serves won't be there any more, and that Calvary will need to sell the building and go elsewhere. Until that time, I doubt anyone will notice they are there.

The women admitted to the program live at Calvary as they put themselves back together and get the support they need to live independently. Calvary is not a place you turn up and ask to spend the night. Calvary is a place where people sit on waiting lists trying to get in, because there is nothing like it anywhere else in DC I have found.

by Mike on Aug 3, 2011 5:22 pm • linkreport


You raise some pretty valid points.

But it's worth noting that your suggestion that no DC taxpayer money is involved is almost undoubtedly not true.

If nothing else the building will be tax exempt, so we are supporting fire, police, rescue, street infrastructure, etc., for that building. Real estate tax revenue is a major revenue source for DC, and taking that building off the tax rolls is a use of DC tax money and resources. True, in the overall scheme of things it's not much, but it's still a use of tax money and resources.

And maybe they are the rare exception that takes absolutely no DC tax dollars directly. But I'd be surprised if that's absolutely true.

And are you certain that shelters have to be in commercial zoning? It's my understanding that they can be in pretty much any zoning they want.

by Hillman on Aug 3, 2011 5:39 pm • linkreport

I'm shocked by some of these comments calling local residents urban elitists and demanding they do they accept their fair share of social services.

This project is on a MAIN street that is in the middle of a revitalization. Even if this was a condo project (100% residential) it would have people scratching their heads because this strip is suppose to be the the anchor of a commercial district. Even an upscale condo developer would have had to have put in first level commercial/retail space to get a project approved on a major BUSINESS/COMMERCIAL street. As another commenter asked, please name a successful great street/main street project that has a medium to large 100% residential, let alone 100% residential social service center in the street layout?

This is poor urban planning and hopefully changes can be made to incorporate first floor retail/office space.

by MiCoBa on Aug 3, 2011 6:31 pm • linkreport

@ m - Christ Hous is but one example of a homeless shelter in a business district with no ground floor retail. There are numerous such shelters and clinics in Adams Morgan, on 14th St, etc. I'm in agreement with many of the concerns expressed here, (oversaturation of social services has been an ongoing issue in other areas, namely, the Upper West Side of New York), I just question this NIMBYism dressed up as concern for the local economy. If the 100% residential building were a shiny new condo, would there be so many people questioning why a residential building was locating in a business district?

by Scoot on Aug 4, 2011 10:12 am • linkreport

@Scoot... I would still question the choice if it was a 100% residential building. The same way I questioned why are we putting residential on prime real estate at Minnesota Ave Metro station. It should be office to bring more day time population to help support new retail.

by Veronica O. Davis (Ms V) on Aug 4, 2011 10:23 am • linkreport

Seems to me that Christ House is not "in the middle" of a business district - it is at the end of the business district next to a big apartment building. That's a little different than having a blank space in between a row of retail spaces.

by MLD on Aug 4, 2011 10:26 am • linkreport

"I just question this NIMBYism dressed up as concern for the local economy. If the 100% residential building were a shiny new condo, would there be so many people questioning why a residential building was locating in a business district?"


As someone who LIVES and WORKS in WARD 8 promoting the ANACOSTIA BUSINESS DISTRICT the answer is "yes, we would not want a "shiny new condo" located on the main street of our business district.

Let me break this down to you:

We need vital and vibrant businesses in our storefronts.
Those businesses = jobs (hopefully in the W8 community)
Those businesses and those employees will contribute to the tax base
As the businesses improve so does the ability for more new businesses (not social service programs looking for cheap land) to move in

Anacostia may not be Georgetown or U Street (and we don't want to be) and we may have a long way to go in our revitalization efforts but we are not desperate for anything anyone throws at us. We don't need scraps in the form of homeless shelters just to occupy a vacant building -- which btw someone IN Anacostia TRIED to buy.

Not trying to be combative or discourage anyone from weighing in but before you accuse "us" (those who actually live and/or work in Anacostia) of being NIMBY's or having petty concerns please let us know where you live. So far I have seen not one comment (on or offline) from someone who LIVES or WORKS in Anacostia n support of the location of this shelter.

Says something doesn't it?

Give the people who actually invested here, who sleep here at night, and who work here in the day that they may actually have a valuable perspective besides a Google map.

The Advoc8te
Lives in Ward 8 (Congress Heights) and works and volunteers in Ward 8 (Anacostia)

by The Advoc8te on Aug 4, 2011 10:37 am • linkreport

I just want to please ask that we remember that all people who live in the city have a stake in Historic Anacostia doing well. I understand that you're personally invested in the area and ward, Advoc8te, but those of us in Ward 5 are interested in seeing you all do well there too.

I only bring this up because I worry about what happens when people's opinions are marginalized just because they don't within a certain boundary line. The example I bring up time and again is the (ongoing) process with the Capital City Market's redevelopment. The area is in Ward 5, on the line with Ward 6. There are no Ward 5 residents who live near the market (except for Gallaudet University students, who are not very politically active on the ANC level that I've observed), but many, many Ward 6 residents live right across the street from the market and would be directly affected by whatever happens there.

When the last small-area plan was being developed, Ward 6 folk were initially told they would have no say in what happens, because the market is in Ward 5 and was "none of their concern." Just because a line was arbitrarily drawn down Florida Avenue, bureaucrats were going to tell actual neighbors that they should shut up. In the end, intelligence prevailed over dogmatic reading of a map.

What I'm trying to say is that I think the "if you're not from Ward 8, your perspective is less valuable" angle might not be fair. Certainly, people who live in Ward 8 and experience Historic Anacostia on a daily basis have a perspective that someone who is not there every day lacks, and that perspective has real, tangible value. But it's not the only perspective.

Just a thought.

by Geoffrey Hatchard on Aug 4, 2011 10:49 am • linkreport

@ Veronica - As I recall, C3A zoning on the 1200 block of Good Hope Road SE would forbid the hypothetical 100% residential building anyway, so it's kind of a moot point, although my gut tells me that there appears to be more concern that the building is used to house a homeless shelter. I could be wrong though.

In my opinion, the issue of DC shelters serving the homeless from Maryland or Virginia is something that is best addressed at a city-wide legislative level (as it has been in the past) and then needs to be properly enforced at the local level.

Also ... Christ House is located squarely within the Adams Morgan BID, which runs up Columbia Rd to 16th St. It is bounded on one side by an apartment building (with no ground floor retail) and on another side by a retail strip; it is also across the street from a retail strip. Though to be fair, it is not exactly located on 18th wedged between two bars as the Calvary shelter might one day be.

by Scoot on Aug 4, 2011 11:03 am • linkreport


I was discussing this story with my wife yesterday and she sided with most of the people here in being a bit miffed about the project; to my surprise, she actually named some outreach programs which really threw me because I didn't think she really paid attention when driving down GHR. Anyways, my real question is when it comes to unemployment in Wards 7/8, how many of those individuals that are unemployed are really "employable"? Meaning, how many of these individuals are at least high school grads with no criminal record and some sort of post secondary technical training? On top of that how many of those people REALLY want a job?

Okay, so realistically what are the chances that you have the actual data to answer those questions? The point I'm trying to make is maybe we should worry first about our "community infrastructure" and let the retail issues take care of themselves.

by StringsAttached on Aug 4, 2011 11:19 am • linkreport

GH, I understand your point. However, I do think that residents who live in a neighborhood/ward/district etc., do have more "say" over what goes on in their neighborhood.

Yes, Georgetown belongs to all of DC. We all have a stake in its success. But it is residents such as my fav GGW transit buddy (Ken Archer) who are directly affected by what goes on there and what sorts of developments happens. That's not to say that the rest of DC shouldn't have an opinion on whether a streetcar goes through G'town because yes, all of DC would benefit. However, at the end of each shopping or restaurant trip, we all leave and go back to our own.

I can agree that it does seem as if the opinion of those who live outside of Ward 8 are marginalized in this discussion, but I don't think it's wrong.

@Scott, I can't speak for anyone else, but I actually "do" have a problem with it being a homeless shelter.

@Mike, in theory, your well-written rationale for homeless shelters such as this would cause everyone in every Ward to welcome such a facility in their n'hood. But in practice?

BTW, are you affiliated with Calvary?

by HogWash on Aug 4, 2011 11:30 am • linkreport

@Stringsattached, if you're describing "community infrastructure" in part as adequately addressing the unemployment situation (who is employable and willing to work) commercial development can be an answer to that question.

There is no one magic wand that will solve this. But there are things that, working altogether, will. So I don't think it's necessary for us to only address the community infrastructure while ignoring increased opportunities for development. If that were the case, the Giant on Alabama Ave wouldn't be built because the unemployment situation was so bad. That's not what we need.

And although I acknowledge there's no one thing that will revitalize Anacostia, we have enough experience to know the pros and cons of additional social service programs. The question here is whether a n'hood in the midst of a serious revitalization benefits from this shelter. I'll acknowledge in advance that it may sound crass, but I'm more concerned about that than I am about the women (as unfortunate as their station may be) who will be housed there.

by HogWash on Aug 4, 2011 11:43 am • linkreport

@ Advoc8te - Since you asked, I am a proud resident and homeowner in Ward 1 simply voicing an opinion on a local city blog. The day I run for ANC office in Ward 8 is the day you can call me out for not knowing what's best for its residents. :)

While I agree with most of what was set forth in the original blog post, I'm ultimately less concerned about homeless shelters and more concerned with transportation issues. And since I'm clearly not welcome to voice an opinion on what matters to Ward 8, I should probably stop wasting my time and energy advocating for more Circulator routes or bicycle infrastructure there.

by Scoot on Aug 4, 2011 12:48 pm • linkreport

This is typical 'dump everything in ward 7&8 and let them deal with it' attitude. We already are overrun with low income, poorly run/supervised social service agencies already? Why are the 'bad guys' for now wanting things put in our neighborhood to improve it rather than be a drain. I don't care if you do pay for the building or provide a shelter. East of the River already has enough agencies to do that. Everytime we expect something in our community to improve it, we are told 'you don't have the average income to support that' ' the store won't come if they don't beleive the area has the income to spend there' and this is what we get. A no-income building that will most likely increase our density and not provide any benefit. But we should just take it right? Everytime we object to bearing the brunt of another one of these bright ideas, we are accused of being elitist; but nevermind the fact that there is already an abundance of this east of the river. Why don't you operate out of Ward 1-5 and then we can talk. Make it even. NoMa is getting market rate housing left an right, but we just get more shelters. Just stop it already. The guilt trip isn't working anymore, you can't shame us into accepting being dumped on. We see what you are doing and we are demanding you GO DO IT SOMEWHERE ELSE this time.

by NIMBY all the way on Aug 4, 2011 2:07 pm • linkreport

In my opinion, the issue of DC shelters serving the homeless from Maryland or Virginia is something that is best addressed at a city-wide legislative level (as it has been in the past) and then needs to be properly enforced at the local level.

I think the issue of DC shelters serving MD and DC residents is something that should ultimately be addressed by a unified representatives of the regional governments (along with equable funding). My guess is, that's not going to happen any time soon, so you'll end up with the current situation, which is that just as MD and VA have historically passed the buck to DC, DC will now try and pass the buck to the suburbs.

Until MD and VA have the same per capita share of poverty and homelessness, it's going to be very hard to present a compelling argument to folks like NIMBY all the way--whether they live in Ward 8, 7, 6...or 5, 4, 3, 2, or 1 for that matter.

by oboe on Aug 4, 2011 3:43 pm • linkreport

Christ Church shelter in Adams Morgan is directly next to a bar and across from the decrepit most under-utilized stretch of all of Adams Morgan (Reed Cooke).

But the taller taller hotel will fix all of that, and link the totally awesome bar strip to this section.

What happened to the La Casa shelter when Columbia Heights became hipster heaven? The developer got the land for a Hamilton... and DC was to build a new shelter... and ... yeah.

by greent on Aug 5, 2011 1:03 pm • linkreport

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