[Hpn] Washington, DC - Homeless Could Be Forced Into Shelters - KJLA 7 TV News - December 09, 2003

HC Covington HC Covington" <hcc@icanamerica.org
Wed, 10 Dec 2003 03:23:23 -0500


Homeless Could Be Forced Into Shelters

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Staff Writers - KJLA 7 TV News - December 09, 2003

Washington, DC (AP) - When winter temperatures drop below
freezing in the nation's capital, city officials and community
outreach workers will be prepared to remove some
homeless people from the streets and force them into
shelters.

"There is a law in the district that gives the city certain
powers to make those kind of decisions for the benefit of
the person," Terry B. Thomas, associate administrator of the
District of Columbia Department of Human Services, said
Tuesday.

The agency which oversees emergency services for the city's
homeless issued 110 hypothermia alerts between Nov. 1, 2002
and March 31, 2003.

"We have crews on the street that will retrieve those people
and take them to certain locations," said Thomas.

For the third straight year, the city will run its hypothermia
prevention effort under guidelines included in an executive
order issued by Mayor Anthony A. Williams.

It provides police, public health workers, and volunteers
and employees with some nonprofit groups the authority to
involuntarily commit those suspected of mental illness,
public intoxication, or impaired judgment "because they
present a danger to themselves or others."

The D.C. government provided about 1,600 shelter beds for
the homeless last winter, and worked with churches and
nonprofit groups to double that number to 3,250.

Private shelter operators also made another 518 beds
available in emergency shelters that operated 12-24 hours a
day.

This winter, the city's hypothermia shelter budget is
$1,449,100, to operate 14 facilities with 1,115 beds. Most
of the facilities will only be open during periods when
temperatures are below 32 degrees.

While there are fewer beds available this year, officials
contend they are adequately prepared to deal with demand,
even if this winter is as severe as - or worse than - last
year.

Additional space can be made available quickly under
agreements with local hotel operators, or by opening other
city buildings as emergency shelters, Thomas said.

The hypothermia plan was among procedures practiced by
officials from about 35 city agencies, utility companies and
nonprofit groups during a five hour snow emergency exercise
Tuesday.

"We're preparing for people issues that could come up, such
as mass care in the event of major power outages," said
Barbara Childs-Pair, acting director of the D.C. Emergency
Management Agency.

KJLA, DC source page: http://tinyurl.com/yk5n
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ŠTHE HOMELESS NEWS - H.C. Covington, Editor  http://tinyurl.com/2yg2