WASHINGTON (WUSA)- -When we visited the family homeless shelter run by the DC government on Wednesday there were 287 families living there.
They included 596 children and only one vacancy in the entire place that once housed DC General Hospital.
Three months is the average stay, that's a goal, some stay longer. Most but not all complain about the conditions, the food, or the bed bugs.
But with about 20 minutes notice before we showed up with a camera, the place looked scrubbed, quiet and orderly. It was the middle of the day with kids at school and people away on their day jobs, those who had them.
The stories of how the families got there will tear your heart out.
R. Minnick has a seven-year-old son who still makes the honor roll at school while living in the shelter. She had been staying in the nearby train station and abandoned buildings.
Most people didn't want their names or faces revealed. A man and woman said they had been put out. They had two children with a third on the way.
Another man claimed to be a construction worker, who was evicted with a wife and child, now awaiting an apartment.
Most qualify for government rent subsidies; but Mayor Gray and Department of Human Services Director David Berns said on Wednesday, the supply of affordable housing isn't adequate enough to accommodate this group, there is also the issue of jobs and job skills. They're at the bottom in those areas as well.
Advocates say the city government can do more. DC has a rainy day fund of $1.5 billlion with more projected surpluses on the way.
The Mayor is proposing $100 million to go towards affordable housing. But nearly 70,000 people are already on the Housing department's waiting list for public and privately subsidized rentals.
The Mayor's $100 milllion would include seniors, police, fire and teachers and other government workers.