A local governing body approved a resolution calling on the D.C. Council to fund mobile showers for individuals experiencing homelessness during its monthly meeting Wednesday.
The Foggy Bottom and West End Advisory Neighborhood Commission unanimously voted to urge city lawmakers to provide mobile showers, bathrooms and laundry facilities for the homeless community in Foggy Bottom so they can avoid walking long distances to use public facilities. The ANC also appointed local residents to a committee that will work to distribute community grants through nonprofits, and commissioners heard an update about the District’s budget from the office of Ward 2 D.C. Council member Brooke Pinto at the meeting.
Here are a few of the meeting’s highlights:
Demanding mobile showers
ANC Commissioner and recent GW graduate Yannik Omictin introduced the resolution, which called on the D.C. Council to allocate $400,000 for the sanitation facilities to make them more accessible for people experiencing homelessness. Omictin said he wrote the resolution because many individuals experiencing homelessness are unable to regularly travel to service sites like the Downtown Day Services Center, which offers sanitation services.
“Unhoused folks simply don’t have a safe place to shower, a safe place to do laundry on a regular basis,” he said. “Especially folks who are living here, they have to walk dozens of blocks to get to the nearest facilities, which are in Georgetown or the Downtown Day Services Center.”
The resolution calls on the D.C. Council to form a partnership with a nonprofit organization to offer the services in the form of renovated trucks or trailers, which is how other cities across the country organize similar services, Omictin said.
“It’s an amazing movement across the United States,” Jeri Epstein, the chair of the ANC, said.
Appointing community members
Commissioners unanimously voted to appoint three community members to the humanitarian grants special committee that will work to distribute money to nonprofits in Foggy Bottom to help locals recover from financial difficulties tied to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The ANC appointed Christopher Brick, a GW faculty member in the history department, Celina Chelala, a clinical social worker, and Marina Streznewski, the former president of the Foggy Bottom Association, to join Omictin and Commissioner Trupti Patel on the committee. The committee is one of four that the ANC assembled earlier this year to tackle community issues like infrastructure, strategic planning, the economy and neighborhood life.
“I’m really interested in connecting folks who are unhoused with resources,” Chelala said.
The committee, which has been in the works since it was authorized in March, will distribute grants to nonprofit organizations in the Foggy Bottom area, who will then distribute the money to residents in need. Omictin said the committee plans to deliver finalists for the grants to the ANC for a vote that will take place during its September meeting.
Bracing for student move-in
Kevin Days, GW’s director of community relations, reminded the community about the University’s fall move-in period, which will run from mid- to late-August with an optional move-in weekend in July. He said the University found that staggered move-in dates during separate weeks has had a relatively lighter impact on traffic and staff when compared to busier move-in dates.
“One of the lessons learned from COVID-19 is that if we stagger our move-in dates, although it spreads it out over more dates, it lowers the impact on traffic and the impact on the staff,” Days said.
Days said the University will be establish hotlines and online reporting tools for locals to reach out to the University if students living in One Washington Circle and The Aston fail to meet student behavior standards. Local residents registered several complaints with local leaders and University officials last fall when students’ gatherings generated concerns about the spread of the coronavirus around Foggy Bottom.
Third-year and fourth-year students will live in One Washington Circle and The Aston – buildings that border residential units in the neighborhood – while Thurston Hall undergoes renovations.
Awaiting the city’s budget
Barry Weise, the legislative director for Ward 2 D.C. Council member Brooke Pinto, praised sections of Mayor Muriel Bowser’s proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year, including areas that increased funding for housing vouchers and school-based mental health officials. The Council is currently reviewing the mayor’s budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year through oversight hearings before approving it later this summer.
Weise said Pinto will work to fund additional funding of housing vouchers, small business relief and more.