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Serving the GW Community since 1904

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ANC supports proposal to convert former residence hall to shelter unhoused people

Danielle Towers | Assistant Photo Editor
The Aston, pictured in April 2022.

Members of a local governing body passed a resolution in favor of converting a former University residence hall into a shelter for people experiencing homelessness.

The Foggy Bottom and West End Advisory Commission approved a resolution in a special meeting Wednesday that states the ANC “in general” supports the D.C. Department of Human Services’ proposal to acquire The Aston, a GW-owned residence hall on New Hampshire Avenue, and turn it into a non-congregate shelter for unhoused mixed-gendered adult families and medically vulnerable people. The ANC passed the resolution in a 6-1-2 vote with mixed opinions from commissioners and constituents.

The D.C. Council will automatically approve the Department of General Services’ request to purchase the Aston for $27.5 million on July 11 after University officials announced plans to sell the building last May. DHS intends to work with DGS to turn the building into a shelter and make renovations that DHS officials said would take eight weeks in a special ANC meeting last week.

“ANC 2A in general supports the development of a non-congregate shelter at 1129 New Hampshire Avenue NW that will serve the needs of medically vulnerable individuals as well as individuals in transition to permanent housing that can’t be served by traditional facilities,” the resolution states.

The resolution calls for the establishment of a community advisory team to work with the ANC and community members to “address mutual expectations and commitments” and assist the shelter in becoming “better integrated” in Foggy Bottom and West End.

The resolution also requests that officials from DGS, DHS and the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services attend another ANC meeting to engage with the community and answer their questions. The resolution asks the officials to answer seven specific questions during the meeting and in writing, including on the medical services that will be provided to unhoused residents in the shelter and what types of training on-site security will receive.

The resolution states that the ANC “may no longer support” the proposal to transform the Aston into a shelter for unhoused people if District agencies involved in the project fail to engage or answer the questions of the ANC and the community.

2A01 Commissioner Yannik Omictin, a sponsor of the resolution alongside 2A06 Commissioner Joel Causey, said D.C. has an “incredible opportunity” to acquire the Aston and make it a shelter for unhoused people. He said community members stand on the “wrong side of history” if they stand in the way of the project moving forward.

“We know that the stakes are incredibly high when it comes to building facilities that will protect and house unhoused folks,” Omictin said.

2A05 Commissioner Kimberly Courtney said it’s “not really fair” that the ANC is already in general supporting the proposal to turn the Aston into a shelter for unhoused people through the resolution, while also requesting another ANC meeting for the public to provide comment on the proposal and for District officials to answer questions on their plan to create and operate the shelter.

“We need to make sure that we get all of the information about the project, all of the comments before we try to present a unified position as an ANC on the project,” Courtney said.

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