GOOD NEIGHBORS PROJECT
P.O. Box 27217
Washington, D.C. 20038
February 19, 1990
Considerable time and effort have passed since we notified you of progress with the Good Neighbors Project, which proposes to convert a boarded-up city-owned building into a shower-and-locker hygiene center for homeless people, using donated materials and volunteer labor. We're writing to bring you up to date.
1. In September we analyzed the lists provided us by Roland Turpin's office (DPAH*), and identified five buildings, controlled by three city agencies (DPAH, DHCD*, and DAS*), as potentially useful. We wrote to the three agencies and asked that we be allowed to tour the properties. Bob King of DAS and David Dennison of DHCD replied that the two properties which were under their jurisdiction had been committed to other uses. Arthur Ragland of DPAH responded to our request to Mr. Turpin by putting us in touch with Bonita Curtis. Clara attempted many times to communicate with Ms. Curtis. We still have no idea about the status of the three properties under DPAH control. No tour has been arranged. No substitute properties have been offered. However, on February 15 we received a call from Ann Avelino setting up a March 1 appointment with Mr. Turpin. Please call 462-0757 if YOU have any questions or suggestions to take to Mr. Turpin.
2. On January 2, Clara and Ellen met with Lynn French and Barbara Cannady of DHCD/Homestead Division. Ms. French was friendly but not hopeful. She suggested we contact DAS and the D.C. Board of Education.
3. On January 4, Clara spoke with Bob King at DAS, who said his department is currently only administering vacant land or buildings which are in use. We feel this should be checked.
4. On January 9, Ellen spoke with Board of Education staff and was told that no buildings would be available for at least a year, and that when made available, the Board hopes to sell them for revenue for the other schools.
* DPAH: Department of Public and Assisted Housing; Roland Turpin, Director: 535-1510
DHCD: Department of Housing and Community Development; David Dennison, Director: 535-1970
DAS: Department of Administrative Services: Ray Lambert,
Director: 727-1179; Bob King, Real Property Division: 727-9775
5. Mr. Dennison wrote a letter on January 25 expressing three reasons for his belief that we could not be served by the Homestead program. His letter seemed to reflect certain misunderstandings (in "quotes" below), to which we responded (in parentheses):
"(a) that you would not want to renovate a property that you would not own": (We're not interested in ownership. What we decided with Ms. French was that it would make no sense to convert a property whose title was in the process of being cleared if we were not able to ensure that a free shower-and-locker facility designed to help the homeless will remain a free shower-and-locker facility for the homeless.)
"(b) that it would not be legal for you to rent the property from its future owners": (We don't remember discussing this.)
"(c) that there are no available Homestead properties in the area of the city in which you wish to locate": (Although it would be easier for us to begin in the northwest, which also has the greatest number of homeless, the problem we hope to help solve is city-wide so we aren't bound by geography.)
Mr. Dennison ended his letter with a "genuine hope that you will soon be able to embark on your admirable project." We've asked him for other ideas.
6. On January 17, Clara and Ellen had a meeting with Jim McDaniel and Shaheeda Faruq at H.U.D.'s D.C. field office.
. Mr. McDaniel said firmly, "for attribution," that H.U.D. does not require that the city buy a new building for every one disposed of, which was what we had been told at the July 29, 1989 meeting with Mssrs. Turpin and Dennison.
. Mr. McDaniel said that Jack Kemp had recently appointed Anna Kondratas (Assistant Secretary for Community Planning and Development) his "homeless aide." Mr. McDaniel said Ms. Kondratas had instructed her staff to concentrate on providing for the homeless. He said that, to this end, his department was currently analyzing possible uses of properties slated for disposition.
. He said Ms. Moore would get back to us in 10 days to two weeks with further information. Although they seemed very supportive, we have not yet heard from them.
. Mr. McDaniel said that a first step for working with H.U.D. would be for GNP to take on a non-profit organizational structure, although we would not be required to formally incorporate.
7. Enclosed is a draft of proposed Articles of Association of Unincorporated Non-Profit Association. Your suggestions for improvement would be appreciated. Let us hear from you on this.
Ordinary folks are interested. People are volunteering in response to the enclosed "Dear Neighbor" flier. Builders have offered materials. Needless to say, we can't go anywhere without a building. The City admits to owning 1,000 currently boarded-up buildings. The City is the key.
At this point we feel that, unless our meeting with Mr. Turpin on March 1 produces a building, we've exhausted bureaucratic avenues, and need assistance in getting action.
We need someone appointed within the bureaucracy who has the authority, interest, and ability to cut through red tape and help us get the first currently boarded-up building so the GNP hygiene/locker facility can soon be operable. The Courts are on our side. (See, e.g., Judge Taylor's December 21, 1989 decision in Atchison v. Barry, D.C. Superior Court CA 11976'88.)
If it's going to take Council action to convince the City to produce meaningful results, we need Your support.
If you can think of any way to speed and simplify the process of obtaining a building, please contact us ASAP.
Please let us hear from you.
GOOD NEIGHBORS PROJECT
by: Ellen Thomas and Clara Porter
Enclosures: Proposed Articles of Association (please comment!)"Dear Neighbor"/"Public Service Announcement" flier(Please photocopy and distribute!)