Ward 3 Short-Term Family Housing Shelter
The Ward 3 Short-Term Family Housing facility is a six-story facility under construction at 3320 Idaho Ave. NW that will house 50 families and provide wraparound services to help them transition into permanent housing. The facility is one of eight being opened throughout the city to replace D.C. General, which was recognized as being unsuitable for families experiencing a housing crisis. The Ward 3 shelter is scheduled to be completed by January 2020, and families are to begin moving into it in March 2020.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser pledged to end homelessness and transform the shelter system by closing D.C. General (she fulfilled that promise when D.C. General shut its doors in 2018) and opening smaller shelters in all eight wards. These neighborhood-based programs are to provide wraparound services, 24/7 security and a safe environment to ensure that families who have fallen on hard times have a fair shot at a second chance.
To that end, the D.C. Council in 2016 passed the “Homeless Shelter Replacement Act of 2016” (B21-0620), which designated shelter locations in all eight wards. In Ward 3, that location was 2619 Wisconsin Ave. NW.
Soon after the vote, the Council became concerned about the cost to taxpayers of the Wisconsin Avenue site. So the Council selected a different site – 3320 Idaho Ave. NW (home of the Second District police station) – for the Ward 3 facility because it was already owned by the city and didn’t involve purchasing or leasing property. After the site was announced, the ANC passed a resolution expressing concerns about the lack of community notice and involvement in the site selection process.
As part of the project, the city decided to build a parking garage for police and employees of the Ward 3 housing facility. Because the garage couldn’t be built at the same time as the shelter because of site constraints, the garage was built first – a process that took nine months – thereby changing the timeline for the shelter opening. (Originally the shelter was to open in the summer of 2019; after the parking garage was added, the opening date was pushed back to 2020.)
Construction of the parking garage began in November 2017, and the garage was completed on time in the summer of 2018. Construction of the shelter began later in 2018.
The city required zoning relief to build the Ward 3 facility, and it sought that relief from the Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA Case 19450). The ANC in February 2017 passed a resolution supporting the facility and recommending that the BZA grant most, but not all, of the relief. In April 2017, the BZA granted all of the zoning relief necessary to build the facility. (See: BZA Final Order 19450)
More than a year later, while the garage was still under construction, the city made changes to the design, including adding a 62-person capacity outdoor patio to the facility. Concerned that the changes had been made without community input, the ANC and residents asked the BZA to review the patio addition. Before the BZA could consider it, though, the ANC and residents signed a memorandum of understanding with the city that would ensure that residents of the facility would be able to have outdoor space but that it wouldn’t disrupt the neighbors.
Neighbors for Responsive Government
Some concerned residents formed a group called Neighbors for Responsive Government (NRG) and filed a lawsuit against the city in August 2016, saying that the city didn’t follow its own procedures on the site selection and didn’t give the community adequate time to weigh in on the plan. A D.C. Superior Court dismissed the lawsuit in February 2017.
Residents appealed in September 2017, and the D.C. Court of Appeals dismissed the appeal in October 2018. While the litigation was pending, the city continued designing the facility, getting the building permits and constructing the garage.
In addition to the ANC, NRG also filed an appeal seeking BZA review of the patio addition as well as other design changes the city made after the BZA had approved the design. Before the BZA was scheduled to hear the case, though, the residents and ANC representative met with the city and came to an agreement on terms that would permit the patio to be built while addressing the neighbors’ concerns.
ANC resolutions relating to the facility
ANC3C Resolution 2019-002 (Jan. 23, 2019)
Regarding a Memorandum of Understanding to Settle an Appeal to the BZA Regarding the Addition of a Patio to the Ward 3 Short-Term Family Housing Facility at 3320 Idaho Avenue NW
ANC3C Resolution 2018-042 (Dec. 17, 2018)
Regarding a Settlement of an Appeal to the BZA Regarding the Addition of a 62-Person Capacity Outdoor Deck to the Ward 3 Short-Term Family Housing Facility at 3320 Idaho Avenue NW
ANC3C Resolution 2018-035 (Oct. 15, 2018)
Regarding an Appeal to the BZA Regarding the Addition of a 62-Person Capacity Outdoor Deck to the Ward 3 Short-Term Family Housing Shelter at 3320 Idaho Ave. NW
ANC3C Resolution No. 2017-07 (Feb. 21, 2017)
Resolution Regarding the Department of General Services Request for Variances and a Special Exception to Accommodate Short-Term Family Housing at 3320 Idaho Avenue NW
ANC3C Resolution No. 2016-13 (March14, 2016)
Resolution Regarding Mayor Bowser’s Homeward DC Facilities Plan