Judge orders DC to place homeless in hotels

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- Darnell Harris, his wife and two young children are among a group of families who sued the District over the conditions at a temporary cold weather shelter. The law requires the District to provide warm shelter for homeless families when the temperature drops below freezing.

After being evicted from their apartment and exhausting all options with relatives and friends, the Harris family sought shelter during the cold snap. But since the only shelter that accepts children (the old DC General) was already at capacity with 300 families, the city created makeshift shelters at area rec centers.

The Harris family spent one month inside the Benning Park Rec Center on Southern Avenue in SE where they say condition were unsafe and unhealthy. "The kids wouldn't fall asleep until 2 a.m. and we had to leave at 7 a.m., " explained Darnell Harris, "the bathrooms were filthy, the partitions they put up between the cots - the focus of our lawsuit - left no privacy or safety. And the lights were on at all hours."

A judge ordered the city to place the families in hotels. But District leaders will appeal the decision saying the law does not call for "apartment-style" shelter for families.

No ruling from the courts yet if all 79 families must be relocated from the temporary rec center shelters.


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