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City leaders develop plan to reduce homelessness in D.C.

D.C. leaders are working on a plan to reduce homelessness in the city.{ } Monday, Jan. 1, 2018 (ABC7 photo){ }{p}{/p}
D.C. leaders are working on a plan to reduce homelessness in the city. Monday, Jan. 1, 2018 (ABC7 photo)

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In a city where a one bedroom apartment can go for more than $2,000, homelessness in D.C. is twice the national average.

That’s according to a recent survey from the conference of mayors.

“Expenses now in this city are very high,” said Marine veteran Steve Powell.

There are now 751 families who are homeless in D.C.

Last year, Powell was in the same boat.

After a divorce, for four years and three months, he relied on the Central Union Mission as a means for shelter.

“If you were ever in the military, you’re basically doing the same thing,” said Powell.

“When it was time for showers, you get in linebreakfast, lunch and dinner you get in line,” said Powell.

With help from Central Union Mission and Habitat for Humanity, he now owns a one bedroom condo that costs him $695 per month.

“You get knocked down, you get back up. you continue fighting, win or lose,” said Powell.

Director Laura Zeilinger says the city is trying to help hundreds of others who want to get back on their feet.

“We’ve got an all 8 ward strategy and each of the sites will have no more than 50 families in them,” said Zeilinger.

As part of that strategy, the city has identified eight locations for those family shelters -- despite pushback from some community members.

The last site selected will be on 14th street in Northwest.

It’s scheduled to open in 2020.

The city’s goal is to soon close D.C. General Family Shelter, where Relisha Rudd disappeared in 2014.

“Certainly, I think that shed a light for our community on the conditions that we were providing to families at that time of crisis,” said Zeilinger.

Three of the city’s new family shelters will be open and operational by fall of 2018, including two sites in Southeast and one in Northwest.

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“We’d like to see D.C. General services as a thing of the past, in terms of how we’ve provided homeless services as quickly as we can,” said Zeilinger. “It is far too big, far too chaotic and the maintenance of the building is very difficult.”

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