Residents Sue DC Government Over New Homeless Shelter

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Steve Birr Vice Reporter
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A band of residents in Washington, D.C., are suing the local government for failing to confer with the community on building a new homeless shelter.

21 residents from the District’s Ward 3 filed the lawsuit Tuesday in the D.C. superior court, alleging the D.C. Council and Mayor Muriel Bowser broke the law by passing a homeless shelter plan in late May. Specifically, the group says officials violated the District of Columbia Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners (ANC) Act, which requires input from ANCs on any changes to zoning laws, reports NBC Washington.

Bowser reversed course on her initial homeless shelter plan and threw her support behind the revised Council version in late May, despite a previous expletive outburst against the Council’s actions. The law will establish a homeless shelter in Ward 3 in the parking lot of the 2nd District police station. (RELATED: DC Mayor Throws F-Bomb At Council Chair Over Homeless Shelter Derailment)

“What we are going to court with is not to ask the court to substitute its judgment for that of the council in choosing this site,” David Brown, an attorney for the group of residents, told NBC4. “But to go back to the drawing board and give the ANC an opportunity to presents its issues and concerns.”

The 2016 Homeless Shelter Replacement Act aims to open new homeless shelters in every ward of the District and close D.C. General Hospital, the city’s often criticized and only public shelter, by sometime in 2018. The D.C. Council plan opts to use government land for the new shelter sites, saving the District roughly $165 million over three decades compared to Bowser’s original proposal.

Bowser proposed a similar plan in February, however her proposal involved leasing private land at an enormous cost to taxpayers, sparking fierce community opposition.

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