Thursday, August 02, 2012


The saga of Calvary Women's Services plan to open a homeless shelter in the middle of Anacostia's Business District continues. In case you missed it here's a recap. Calvary was tone deaf when it came to listening, meeting or even considering the communities concerns. It took over six months of calling, emailing, tweeting, demonstrating, and a rally to finally get them to attend  a community meeting.  Anacostia residents were almost unanimous, they wanted "businesses and not beds" on their business corridor.

Rally in January against the oversaturation of social services in Anacostia
Six months may have passed since that first (and only) community meeting between Anacostia residents and Calvary but relations are still strained to say it nicely. Most Anacostia residents still don't want them on Anacostia's mainstreet (and an argument can be made they don't want them in Anacostia period).  The perception by most is that Calvary is not a good neighbor and is just going through the motions of looking like they are. Residents point to the cursory and stilted "Community Updates" provided by Calvary's Executive Director, Kris Thompson. The updates, heavy on the word "community" seem to lack that in spirit and action, or at least that is the impression by one Anacostia resident, ANC 8A Commissioner Greta Fuller. With Ms. Fuller's permission I am sharing a letter she sent to Calvary after receiving the July "Community Update" which I am including below her letter.
Ms Thompson,

I have not known how to address your letters and emails.  But it is time that I say what must be said, it is time for you and your team to understand the damage that you caused by not answering the communities request.  I will say this once again, so it is not misunderstood, we don’t have a problem with helping people but we do have a problem with over saturation of social services, especially on the struggling business corridor of Historic Anacostia.  We have a problem with you and with others who bring this to our main street. 
The first thing I would like to tell you is that the community does not believe you are a good neighbor.  While you had matter of right to move into the building and make it what you want, you totally ignored the communities request to meet with you and understand your plans.  It seems that you find us unintelligent and incapable of understanding projects and the needs of our community.  It also seems that you believe these little letters, noting your progress to be competent components of being a good neighbor.  Well let me tell you they are not.  These small notes that you write as an afterthought are only your small symbolic effort and have no regard or meaning for the community.  These notes are written for documenting purposes. They are written to show your donors and any DC government agency that provides funding to your organization that you are reaching out to the community.  Why should I or anyone in the community believe you are sincere now?  We are not as ignorant as you think, and I will not sign off on these little notes as reaching out to the community.  I don’t think your organization is a participant in our community and I have several neighbors to believe the same thing. There is no evidence that you are doing any good in this community.

As a leader in the community I have tried to remain unbiased and listen to all parties involved. I can’t help you, it was your decision, you set the tone and now the community is not interested in anything but seeing you leave.  Every time I reach out to a group to include you, no one wants anything to do with your organization because of your total disregard for them in the beginning.  Maybe one day you can change the perception of your organization but today I don’t know if you can amend the situation between Calvary, Historic Anacostia and surrounding communities.
My wish is that you will be able to sale your building as fast as you have purchased it. Feel free to pass this message to your donors. If any of them have any questions you have my permission to pass my contact information.
          Greta Fuller          Advisory Neighborhood Commission 8A(03)

Calvary Women's Services Community Update July 2012 (1)

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Anonymous said...

As a ward 8 resident and a professional in human services, you all need to stop the foolishness and let the center open. Stop trying to be H Street. As soon as the novelty wears off all of the "new businesses" will run back across the bridge when developers realize that they need their old tenants back. A shleter is just that to help and provide. Ward 8 we need to be good neighbors and embrace this group.

Anonymous said...

@AnonymousAugust 2, 2012 1:38 PM
Your comment appears, in my opinion, very self serving since you state you are a 'professional' in the Human Service disciplines. Businesses don't make all there decisions on 'novelty'. It would be extremely difficult to open a business in a location and then move after a couple of years considering leases are usually much longer than that time period. Either you know nothing about how business's operate or your statement is just random nonsense. More to the point of the community, I think the business owners and residents are asking for balance, they are not trying to be like 'H Street', but there is nothing wrong with trying to uplift Anacostia economically. Developers/landlords could care less who pays but they generally want something long term, dynamic, sustainable and a location that increases in value, not remain static or declines.

Anonymous said...

Calvary's plans didn't seem to deter H Street Playhouse from choosing a location 2 blocks away.

The Advoc8te said...

It's been 20 years since Anacostia has had a playhouse and this black box theater will be the only one in Ward 7 and Ward 8. While it is great that the H St Playhouse is coming to Anacostia there are still plenty of retailers and entertainment venues that will not.

Ward 8 has a population of over 70,000 people and we just got our 2nd major grocery store in 2008 and our first sit down restaurant in 2008/2009. Today we have a total of 3 sit down places to eat in the entire Ward.

When the neighborhood of Anacostia has more social service providers and homeless/group homes ON IT'S MAIN STREET than there are restaurants in all of Ward 8, that's a problem. That's over-saturation.