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« Where is the Justice Department when you need it? | Main | Her cold, dead lips »

September 26, 2008

I was hungry, and you threw me out

Some time ago, I wrote about D.C.'s Central Union Mission (which is run by Dave Treadwell, a member of my church), and its struggle to move to a new home. A compromise was eventually worked out:

The mission would turn over ownership of the Georgia Avenue parcels to the District, which would tear down the existing structures and build a mixed-use project that would include long-term housing for the chronically homeless. In turn, the District would give the mission title to a 12,000-square-foot lot on Massachusetts Avenue NW, near Union Station, on which sits the historic but dilapidated former Gales School. The mission would also get roughly $7 million from the District that had been set aside for rehabilitation of the Gales School -- which cannot be razed -- to transform it into a much-needed emergency shelter to house and feed approximately 150 men. The mission has agreed to operate the Gales School as a homeless shelter for a minimum of 40 years.

Not so fast, says -- get this -- the Episcopal Bishop of Washington, D.C.

Don't blink. The Episcopal Church is fast replacing its former motto "The Episcopal Church Welcomes . . . You," with "The Episcopal Church Sues You."

Bishop John Chane's lawsuit is here.

As Dave's wife, Charlotte, says, if this lawsuit succeeds, or even if it drags on too long, the homeless shelter will be homeless itself. Nice work, Bishop Chane.

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I worked at a Rescue Mission for a couple of years, and am amazed by this suit. I briefly read over the document, and am not surprised to see the comments from former residents of the Mission.

What I am surprised to see is that the other people involved in the suit are doing it based on a church-state separation, as though the District were "donating" land to the Mission.

From what I've heard, land values in the District are such that $12 million total doesn't seem like a lot of money for parcels the Mission owns?

And...are any of the churches and leaders participating in the suit making efforts to house the homeless?

Samuel X

Interestingly, this could potentially set a precedent for using separation of church and state to get out of eminent domain. Not that I'd expect the current court system to abide by such a precedent, but still...

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