March 4, 2020 | Press Release

Letter to Department of Human Services on Families in Hotels and Shelters


March 4, 2020


Laura Zeilinger, Director

Department of Human Services

64 New York Avenue, NE, 6th Floor

Washington, DC 20002


Dear Director Zeilinger:

Thank you for attending the performance oversight hearing convened by the Committee on Human Services on January 29, 2020. I also want to offer thanks to you and your staff for providing support during the Committee on Human Services performance oversight hearing at the R.I.S.E. Demonstration Center on February 18, 2020, and for hosting the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments Human Services Policy Committee at the Ayah. During each of these events and in recent news coverage, questions regarding the operation of the hotels and the completion of the Short Term Family Housing (STFH) Construction Projects have been raised.

Although the completion of the remaining STFH sites will not guarantee that DHS will be able to stop placing families in hotels, there is no doubt that the two issues are closely linked. Furthermore, in prehearing responses, DHS wrote that it plans to exit hotels by the end of calendar year 2020,[1] which is around the same time that the final STFH facility will be completed. For me, the closure of the hotels and the completion of the remaining STFH sites is an important step in the process that the Mayor envisioned some years ago to ensure that families have a safe and dignified place to stay on a temporary basis while they work to stabilize or transition into more permanent housing.

As Council begins to plan for the FY2021 budget, it is of particular importance that the Committee on Human Services has the most up-to-date information on both matters. Drawing on our experience with the closure of DC General and the opening of the first STFH facilities, I gathered a number questions and requests, outlined on the following page. Unless otherwise indicated, I would appreciate responses by next Friday, March 13. As always, I am available to address any questions or concerns should they arise.


Brianne K. Nadeau


[1] “Quality Inn is slated to close in the third quarter of FY20, Days Inn during the first quarter of FY21.” FY19-20 DHS Performance Oversight Pre-Hearing Responses, Question 66.