The Central Union Mission is on the move. This summer, it closed its location of 30 years at 14th and R Streets Northwest. Now, it's following in the footsteps of D.C.’s homeless population.
According to shelter officials, many of the District's poorest residents live their lives downtown, especially after the rapid revitalization of 14th Street Northwest.
This summer, the old location was sold and it is now being redeveloped into 50 luxury condos and apartments.
Meanwhile, shelter officials are wrapping up their own construction project downtown.
“When the poor come to Washington, in desperation, they are likely to be using Union Station for the train or the bus,” said David Treadwell, Central Union Mission Executive Director. “We need to be where the poorest of the poor are located.”
Shelter officials transformed the historic but dilapidated Gales School at 65 Massachusetts Avenue Northwest into a brand new building.
“This was a derelict building for so many years and I think it's being put to a very good public purpose,” said D.C. Council Member Tommy Wells.
The 34,000 square foot building now features beds for 160 men, classroom space, offices for medical, dental, and legal services – and unlike the old location – this shelter includes day rooms to keep the homeless off the streets and out of the cold, night and day.
The shelter's residents – seeing it for the first time – said they can't wait to volunteer here.
Central Union Mission client Edward said, “This is a prime location. You can go anywhere in the city that you'd like and catch the Metro or the buses and that's so cool… We are so excited. We want to move in right now.”
Shelter officials said they hope to have the permit process complete and start moving clients in as soon as this week.
The District government still owns the historic property. But in exchange for footing the $14 Million bill to restore the building, shelter officials will pay only $1 in rent each year – in a 40-year lease.