Good Hope Road is a main street in Ward 8, running through the heart of Anacostia.
A non-profit’s plans to open a women’s shelter on Good Hope Road in Southeast D.C. has caused a group of Ward 8 activists to publicly oppose the plan.
Calvary Women’s Services hopes to open a transitory housing complex along Good Hope Rd, SE by summer 2012, providing semi-permanent housing for nearly 50 formerly homeless women.
In a recent Ward 8 community meeting in January, residents expressed disapproval of the plans to bring the shelter to the underdeveloped main street. Residents complained that while other main streets across the city have been developing at a steady pace, Good Hope Rd., SE has remained economically challenged, primarily due to many social services occupying buildings on the street.
Residents also cited their disapproval with the lack of public involvement in the project coming to Anacostia. It is typical that new businesses entering into new neighborhoods go through the local Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners to seek public approval and neighborhood suggestions about a new business. Calvary did not do this.
The building, in the heart of the Anacostia business district, was previously an Elks Club, employment training center and Post Office, was purchased by Calvary this January for $950,000. Zoned as Class 3-A, the building has a “buy right use” which does not require rezoning to provide supportive housing. As a result, the community has no leverage to prevent the project from going forward and Calvary does not have to seek the community’s approval; thus residents had no chance preventing its opening.
On June 30th, Greta Fuller, ANC8A03, sent Calvary a letter stating her resistance. “Bringing another social service to the business corridor of Anacostia will make it all the more difficult to bring in more businesses and shop owners.”
Calvary will redevelop the 14,000-square-foot building as a women’s shelter, bringing another social service to the corridor that already has a methamphetamine clinic. The standing-room only meeting was heavy with emotion about the shelter, but Calvary representatives tried to ensure residents that the shelter will do the corridor as well as the ward some good. They said they will monitor the trafficking in front of the shelter and will work with the community to make sure the shelter isn’t disruptive to the areas business district.
News of the shelter is particularly threatening considering the uncertainty of a recent staple restaurant in Historic Anacostia, Uniontown Bar and Grill. In November, the owner Natasha Dasher was charged in a federal drug-trafficking case after authorities tracked shipment of 65 kilograms of cocaine from Texas to her Fort Washington office. Despite the charges and her arrest, the business has carried on as usual.
While many of D.C.’s neighborhoods have undergone a transformation in which vacant buildings are converted into coffee shops and sit-down restaurants, Anacostia has lagged behind.