Caring for DC Families: A Moral Issue
Mayor Muriel Bowser has framed the Homeward DC initiative as a moral issue, and we at Playtime couldn’t agree more. We must create the conditions where displaced DC children and families can experience the support and care they need to thrive, quickly moving from situations of homelessness into long-term, affordable housing. Playtime supports the Mayor’s recently announced plan to close DC Generalin three years and replace it with several smaller shelters throughout the city, with locations in all 8 wards.
Following the Mayor’s February 11 announcement of this plan, we were eager to hear more details. This past Thursday, many of us from the Playtime community attended the #All8Wards community meetings to listen and emphasize the need for play space at the new sites.
Many of our neighbors expressed concerns about the new short-term housing system. They asked questions about site locations, services, and the availability of affordable housing.
Countless variables go into planning an effort this large, and we know that much conversation lies ahead. Yet with about 1,000 parents and children currently living at DC General and many more in the overflow hotels, the need for real solutions has never been more urgent. Playtime is committed to being at the table as we seek to transform DC into a city where homelessness is “rare, brief, and non-recurring.”
Creating safe, healthy living conditions for all DC families is a complex task, and we appreciate the hard work put into thinking through the many needs. We were glad to hear about the thoughtful design for the new buildings, and the holistic philosophy behind their placement in different communities. At the same time, we are concerned that there are currently no plans yet to provide age-appropriate spaces for babies and young children.
Playtime knows from years of experience that the youngest and most vulnerable among us have unique needs that cannot be met in a general, common space. We will continue to advocate for age-appropriate spaces for infants and young children in the new temporary housing sites. In the coming days, Playtime will be continuing conversations with the Mayor, our Councilmembers, and DC agencies to ensure that children facing homelessness have the caring and supportive environment they need to thrive.