Monday, May 23, 2011

Urgent: Homeless Shelters Could Close Next Year

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We need your help! A nearly $20 million shortfall in funding for DC's emergency homeless shelters could force the shelters to close on April 1, 2012, leaving 1,500 men and women on the street.

The final vote on the 2012 budget is this Wednesday, May 25, and the DC Council remains divided on whether or not to provide even the most basic of services to our vulnerable neighbors!

Please contact the following council members who have not taken a strong position. Urge them to fund the emergency homeless shelters for single adults and families:

Chairman Kwame Brown (At-Large)
202-724-8032 or

Councilmember Phil Mendelson (At-Large)
202-724-8064 or

Councilmember Mary Cheh (Ward 3)
202-724-8062 or

Councilmember Vincent Orange (At-Large)
202-724-8174 or

Councilmember Harry Thomas, Jr. (Ward 5)
202-724-8028 or

Councilmember Marion Barry (Ward 8)
202-724-8045 or

Councilmember Muriel Bowser (Ward 4)
202-724-8052 or

Councilmembers Jim Graham (Ward 1), Yvette Alexander (Ward 7), Tommy Wells (Ward 6) and Michael Brown (At-Large) have already said they will vote to fund the shelters. If these council members represent your ward, thank them and encourage them to convince their colleagues.

Here are a few key points you can copy and paste into your emails and include in phone calls:

Dear Councilmember [last name],

I urge you to fully fund the $20 million shortfall for the Department of Human Services budget to keep our emergency homeless shelters open year-round. Washington, DC, has the highest rate of homelessness of any major city in the nation, and that rate has been increasing in the recession. We cannot in good conscience allow emergency homeless shelters to close next year given this reality. Please restore the nearly $20 million to ensure these critical services keep families off the street and give them a path to recovery.

A parting thought: “A basic moral test for our society is how we treat the most vulnerable in our midst. In a society marred by deepening disparities between rich and poor, Scripture gives us the story of the Last Judgment (see Matthew 25:31-46) and reminds us that we will be judged by our response to the least among us.”

~Forming Consciences of Faithful Citizenship: A Call to Political Responsibility by the Catholic Bishops of the United States (2007), paragraph 49