I got this email from my homeless-advocate friend, Eric Sheptock yesterday. During the many times I met with him to talk for the paper I was writing, I've either driven past, or sat in my car talking to Eric outside that bench at the Community for Creative Nonviolence (CCNV). So much so, that other residents at the shelter took to teasing him, calling me his "new girlfriend." That a woman died on that bench, right outside that shelter is not only appalling, but IMHO, very telling - considering the mayor's puported drive to provide Permanent Supportive Housing to DC's "most vulnerable" through the Housing First program.From: Eric Sheptock Sent: Monday, June 08, 2009 5:14 PM To: undisclosed recipients: Subject: Fw: SICK HOMELESS WOMAN DIES IN FRONT OF CCNV ON 6/7A homeless woman who was living with a certain illness died while sitting on a bench in front of the CCNV Shelter on June 7th. DC Government failed to house her, even though she was one of the "most vulnerable". This situation has raised the ire of the homeless community. A memorial service will be held for her this evening from 6 to 7 PM at the corner of 2nd and D streets, NW in front of the sidewalk bench where she died. That is the corner of the CCNV building that is nearest the 3rd Street tunnel. This matter will be brought up at the ICH meeting, which will be held where she often ate at Thrive DC. I hope there is high attendance this evening.
When I graduated from my small, liberal arts HBCU in 1978, I moved to DC - the first "big city" I'd ever actualy lived in. I fell in love with it - still am. During that time, there was another advocate/activist who reminds me a lot of Eric for his outspokenness. His name was Mitch Snyder. His advocacy, like Eric's, was instrumental in getting help for the many people about whom I can only say, "There but for the grace..." Mr. Snyder has since died but I'm convinced, he is reincarnated in one, Eric Sheptock. NPR aired this piece on my friend today: "A Voice for the Homeless." Like a mother hen, I was there with him and Ms. Fessler during the first part of this interview but missed the follow-ups at The Church of the Epiphany and Thrive DC because I came home on summer break. Eric made sure to call me today though - he wanted to be sure I wouldn't miss it! I'm so very proud of him. While FLOTUS made a much-ballyhooed, one-day visit to Miriam's Kitchen to feed the homeless shortly after moving into the Big House, it'll be interesting to see what kind of sustained influence she can have on the daily lives of the homeless living in the shadows of her shiny, new home. Eric's hopeful - I'm not. As for the Changeling, well, never mind.