Remember in the bible, when Mary was told there was no room in the manger? Imagine if the manger was a homeless shelter and it was at its capacity. Mary would have been assed out if she was in D.C. Not only would she not have anywhere to live, but little baby Jesus would have caused her to have an inquiry by Child and Family Social Services. Imagine caseworkers swooping in and taking the baby from Mary and sending him to a foster family, or even worse a children’s shelter. Well that’s exactly what could happen if you’re homeless in the District and have children.

Because of the overcrowding of shelters in D.C, many families are being turned away at an alarming rate. According to the Washington Post:

Family homelessness in the District has risen 74 percent since the downturn, an increase that’s left the city’s main homeless shelter brimming with 800 adults and children. Dozens more families have been temporarily sent to live in hotels along New York Avenue at a cost of $3 million.

Since last winter, intake workers have been warning families that if they can’t find a place to live (as if housing is affordable in D.C), they could be reported to child welfare and in return risk losing their children to the “system”.

So far “only” 32 families have been reported to the Child and Family Services Agency but no children have yet been removed from their parents’ care. Mindy Good, the spokesman for CFSA, notes that while homelessness alone is not sufficient reason under D.C. law to remove a child from a parents’ care, the agency has investigated families seeking shelter to see if there were other issues of abuse and neglect — apart from lack of housing — or gave them referrals to other community groups for help. It’s hard enough to have the added stress of being homeless, now families are in fear of losing their children.

Homeless advocates have called this practice a “catch 22”. “It is an outrage that it’s happening,” said Patty Mullahy Fugere, the executive director of the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless.

Do you feel children should be taken from their families and placed in the system due to the over capacity of shelters?

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