DC General Hospital was hailed as a top emergency trauma center for victims with gunshot wounds, that is until Anthony Williams shut it down as part of the citywide divestment of public services serving working DC residents at the start of the millennium.
2001 – 2013
Over the past decade plus, DC General shifted from a closed hospital to an emergency hypothermia shelter, then to a family shelter as other shelters around the city were shuttered continuing the social service divestment in DC. The shelter filled up as local politicos luxury-visions for, and gentrification of the city unfolded and homelessness skyrocketed. Families were forced to pile into expensive motels (and still are today). Christmas back at DC General was a depressing exercise.
in 2015, the DC Council had already voted to support the Mayor’s $300 million dollar dispersed family shelter plan and subsequent real estate deals. In the discussion, Mary Cheh (Ward 3 Councilmember), declares “What’s wrong with us?” as they weaken basic amenities at the proposed family shelters.
Starting off 2016, Mayor Bowser unveils her plan to shut down DC General so she can replace the shelter beds in new family shelters across the city. Legislative support was affirmed again by DC Council vote in 2016, making the closure required by law.
In 2018, the DC General closure plans get real for the families at the city’s biggest, and only shelter available to them in the city. Advocates speak up and say “Families, not Developers, Must be Primary Drivers of DC General Timeline” as the Mayor discretely sought Amazon’s pick to land in DC. The Mayor wasn’t budging, DC General will close by year’s end.
As voices got louder both in critique and in seeking clarity about DC General’s closure, transition of current shelter families, and planning for Ward-based shelters, DC Councilmembers started growing spines and demanding answers and holding hearings.
What became clear at the hearings was the rush to raze all buildings at Reservation 13 (the public land where DC General exists) will impact the lives and health of families still living at DC General. The Mayor’s homeless service executives were exposed as frauds.
Advocates turned up the heat heading into June and July, 2018, gathering steam for the Council to consider legislation that would delay the closure. Pushback from the Mayor led to the Council weakening the bill, disappointing advocates, and indeed leaving the families now at DC General exposed to injury.
DC is considered a United Nations Human Rights City. In the midst of the DC General controversies, a report was published showing how the city policies and politcos are falling short as to this acclaim.