Archive for Friday, January 16, 2009

Homeless uprooted for inauguration

January 16, 2009


— Clifton Wayne Lee, a homeless veteran, usually sleeps on a heating grate outside the Federal Trade Commission building. It would be a prime spot on Inauguration Day — just steps from the inaugural parade route.

But he’ll have to give it up. District of Columbia and federal authorities are telling homeless people that they’ll soon have to vacate the large chunk of property that will be secured before President-elect Barack Obama’s inauguration Tuesday. The zone includes the National Mall, Capitol Hill and more than 10 blocks that make up the parade route.

“I think Obama’s a great man,” said Lee, 58. “I’ll just watch it on TV.”

Officials say homeless people must uproot their encampments by Monday night. But like the crowds of visitors, the homeless can return to the Mall and the parade route Tuesday — as long as they get screened through security checkpoints and abide by the strict rules on what you can carry. There are a number of restrictions that could affect the homeless, such as bag-size limits on the parade route and a ban on glass containers in much of the lockdown zone. As a result, the homeless must know that their belongings may not be accepted at security checkpoints, said D.C. police spokeswoman Traci Hughes.

“We’re not discouraging people from attending,” Hughes said. “We’re letting them know that if they intend to attend the parade, they just can’t have the prohibited items.”

Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan says the federal agency will conduct sweeps Tuesday beginning about 3:30 a.m. to ensure the secure area is free from explosive devices and other possible threats.

It’s difficult to count the homeless, but local officials say there are more than 6,000 in Washington, including many who suffer from mental and physical disabilities. On an average day, dozens of encampments can be found along Pennsylvania Avenue, which will host the parade.

The location is a popular one for homeless people because of its proximity to soup kitchens and other services. The benches in the area — from the White House to the Capitol — tend to fill up at night with the homeless, bundled under blankets and surrounded by their shopping carts, bags and other items.

To accommodate the homeless population around inauguration time, the city is expanding its services, offering more shelter and warm meals along with access to TV sets so the homeless can watch the festivities.

D.C. has decided to keep all 10 of its homeless shelters open 24 hours a day from 7 p.m. EST on Sunday to 7 a.m. on Wednesday. In addition, the city says seven churches and homeless-service providers will extend their hours on Inauguration Day and provide TV viewing and meals.

And if the temperatures are below freezing, city officials will open 11 emergency shelters to the homeless.

Outreach groups and homeless advocates have been meeting with local officials to discuss how authorities will handle homeless people during the inauguration. Michael O’Neill, an advocate with the National Coalition for the Homeless, says the city tends to “hide the homeless” for major events.

“We want to urge them to be considerate of the homeless,” O’Neill said. “That’s where people live, it’s their home and they’re being kicked out.”

Still, O’Neill worries that the efforts will fall short. With only about 2,200 beds in the shelters, there won’t be enough space for the city’s homeless to sleep. He also has growing concerns about the number of tourists who have called the coalition in search of shelter beds as a cheaper way of staying in town for the inauguration. Shelters cannot turn anyone away regardless of their housing status.

Adding to his worries is the city’s decision to stop the shuttles that normally transport people to the shelters. Laura Zeilinger, deputy programs director for the D.C. Department of Human Services, says the decision was made to ease traffic conditions that day, though hypothermia vans will remain on call.

Some of the downtown homeless have a plan for the inauguration. Lee, for example, says he plans to watch the ceremony at a transitional housing shelter, where he’s learning to wean himself off 45 years of street living.

Nga Thi Buscall says she prefers to stay outside. The 60-year-old native of Vietnam says she doesn’t know where she will go if she’s not allowed to stay at her encampment of blankets and CVS bags across from the Newseum, also on the parade route.

“I’m going to go somewhere else,” she said. “I’m not going to go to a shelter because people there have all kinds of problems.”


Maddy Griffin 9 years, 4 months ago

I'm sorry for the homeless, but glad to see Secret Service is on their job.

Leslie Swearingen 9 years, 4 months ago

"On an average day, dozens of encampments can be found along Pennsylvania Avenue, which will host the parade.The benches in the area — from the White House to the Capitol — tend to fill up at night with the homeless, bundled under blankets and surrounded by their shopping carts, bags and other items."Anyone else find it incredible and shameful that this kind of thing happens in our nations capitol? And, to veterans who have given so much of themselves to ensure that the White House still stands? What do the people who serve in the government think when they drive by these people every day?

Shane Garrett 9 years, 4 months ago

150 million dollar party needs to get the non-pretty people out of the way. Government is truely caring. How about spending some of that celebration money on getting the homeless some homes. Obama could build 150 million, 1 million dollar homes for the homeless.

TacoBob 9 years, 4 months ago

Outrage!! Those rotten Republicans are doing it again!! Oops, I guess not.....Where IS the outrage from the usual suspects?

Kyle Reed 9 years, 4 months ago

I understand your point Wally, but you might want to check your math.

Chris Ogle 9 years, 4 months ago

Thanks for the heads up Akreed... good bean counters are hard to find. Have you considered running for office? Lawrence needs you.

Christine Pennewell Davis 9 years, 4 months ago

Not trying to be mean to the homeless got to say that first. Tell me how do you uproot the rootless? The fact is that they are homeless that says it all, it is a bad article title.

Shane Garrett 9 years, 4 months ago

Well, I guess I should have said Obama could build with 150 million, 150 one million dollar homes. I am still waiting for the outrage that was expressed back in 2004 at the 40 million dollar cost for the Bush swearing in party.

Danimal 9 years, 4 months ago

It's newsworthy because this is the change we can believe in. I also like how DC is only going to open additional homeless shelters for the displaced homeless if the temp drops below freezing.

d_prowess 9 years, 4 months ago

I thought I would do some math in response to Wally's repetitive posts on every inauguration article. Bush: 400,000 people party for $40 million = $100 per person in the crowd.Obama: 2,000,000 people party for $150 million = $75 per person in the crowd. So is there really an issue here? Security is what it is. People really want to be there and they have to be safe, so there is a cost associated with it. It is a big number, but doesn't seem different than in the past. (Assuming the $150 million number is accurate)

oohmgrover 9 years, 4 months ago

You can complain all you want about how this is just the "non-pretty people" being "uprooted", but security is security, and if someone wanted to cause harm at the Inauguration festivities when the whole world will be watching, every possible security precaution needs to be taken to prevent that regardless of who is camping on the public streets.

Flap Doodle 9 years, 4 months ago

Look for the price of Solyent Green to drop sharply after Jan 20.

Flap Doodle 9 years, 4 months ago

autie, I'm expecting the price for lemur wool to go through the roof with the scourge of global cooling ravaging the planet. Be sure you get certified wooly lemurs, not the short-haired type.

76 9 years, 4 months ago

has everyone forgotten that they removed the homeless both from salt lake city and atlanta for the olympics?seems we get rid of the homeless when and wherever we don't want the world to see it.

TopJayhawk 9 years, 4 months ago

Oh Py stop the drivel already. They should do what Lawrence does... Send them to Topeka, then look down your nose at us for dealing with your problems... again. What a crock. Let's send them to Pys' house.

TopJayhawk 9 years, 4 months ago

The fact of the matter is that most homeless are that way by choice. Poor choices though they are. I deal with them everyday, I know of which I speak.

TopJayhawk 9 years, 4 months ago

Better stock up now Harley... The Obamanator and San Fran Nan and Harry Greed are wanting to increase taxes on ammo to 500% You should see what .223 goes for these days. AK rounds are cheap by comparison.

TopJayhawk 9 years, 4 months ago

PY, your not brain dead, just on another planet. But your vomit spews the same no matter what solar system you are in.Now be a good girl and go away.

TopJayhawk 9 years, 4 months ago

I hear ya Harley. I have quite a few cases on hand, and lots of reloading components in my basement. I can last at least until 12/21/12....LOL....when it warms up, backchannel me if you want to go blastin'.

TopJayhawk 9 years, 4 months ago

I really don't know Harley. Are you talking game loads, or the good stuff?

TopJayhawk 9 years, 4 months ago

I really don't know. Havn't been shooting clays for several yrs. In fact a few yrs ago I sold my 1100. Still kicking myself for that one. An interesting story on the news today. It seems the pilots assoc. has been pushing for jet engines to be able to withstand bird hits of more than four lbs. (related of course to the amazing plane crash yesterday) They said that due to a lack of hunting, geese are getting bigger. And due to cleaner water ways, more migration is taking place along the eastern seaboard. Seems we may have screwed up in reverse this time. Let's blame it on Py...LOL

TopJayhawk 9 years, 4 months ago

Harley....Big Al really needs everyone to buy into his clamate change BS. It's the only way he can cash in on his investment of millions in carbon credits that he has bought. It is his own "house of cards" not a ponzi scheme, but just as dishonest, and self centered.

TopJayhawk 9 years, 4 months ago

Multi... I spent time growing up in Dodge City and Valley Center. Little towns are good places to be. Nothing wrong with that.

staff04 9 years, 4 months ago

"Some believe an excessive tax will be put on ammo."=some are paranoid

Flap Doodle 9 years, 4 months ago

Some believe that a person with "shucky, darn, forgot to pay my taxes" issues is going to be in charge of the Treasury = they're right.

Shane Garrett 9 years, 4 months ago

yeah, oops forgot about all them there delinquint tax notices i got from the IRS I thought they was from the IRA. 75$ per head. Hmmm thought it was only one head that needed protected. Assuming 2,000,000 people show up. Did not know that the population of Chocolate city was that strong.

Leslie Swearingen 9 years, 4 months ago

TopJayhawk I was homeless for six months. I did not want it, I did not deserve it, I hated every moment of it. There was a woman who got up at six every morning to take the bus out to NCIS to work. Eventually she got enough money to get an apartment. Other people at the Salvation Army did the same and I think they deserve as much attention as the bums who sit on their butts or sit with a guitar fouling the air with their pathetic strumming and moaning and expect people to drop money in the box. Am I the only one that has noticed that these posts start out by addressing the article, you know the thing at the top of the page, and then meander down like the Mississippi?I can't tell when people are joking or not, but apparently they feel the same way about me. Is it accepted procedure to put lol after you write something you think is funny?

OldEnuf2BYurDad 9 years, 4 months ago

Wow. He's not even president yet, and we are already in full "bash" mode."Anyone else find it incredible and shameful that this kind of thing happens in our nations capitol? And, to veterans who have given so much of themselves to ensure that the White House still stands?"The reason why we have homeless vets is less about a care-less government and more about the nature of war. As long as we have wars, we will have damaged ex-warriors who - no matter how many resources we throw at them - will never be "right" again. Do away with war, and we can do away with vets of all stripes.

jumpin_catfish 9 years, 4 months ago

Great man? Shouldn't history be the judge of that? The man's not even the president yet and from the homeless to the high and mighty greatness has been conferred on him. It says less about Mr. Obama and more about the current condition of many of our fellow Americans.

Flap Doodle 9 years, 4 months ago

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