Photo of the partly demolished 801 East Shelter
The partly demolished 801 East Shelter. Photo by Tatiana Brown

The much-needed redesign of the 801 East Single Men’s Shelter is starting construction in early May 2019. 

The 801 East shelter is located on the 120-acre property of St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Southeast D.C. The facility has 380 low-barrier beds in one large room and is open each night from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. The shelter provides showers, hot meals, and transitional housing programs for both youth and adults.  

According to a document released by the Department of Human Services, “the facility has outlived its life cycle,” meaning the building is old and cannot provide the same level of service it once could. Because of the age of the current space, many residents have complained about its overall safety and cleanliness. The security company at 801 East was recently replaced after a late-night stabbing in one of the bathrooms at the shelter. 

The new 801 East Shelter will be divided into four sections, or “pods,” based on need. The working/employment pod will have 100 beds, plus a kitchenette for those that are currently employed. The senior/medically frail pod will have 50 beds and the medical respite pod will have 25 hospital beds for those that require more assistance. There will be 200 beds in their own individual pod for low-barrier housing, like the current shelter. The new 801 East Shelter will also have a health clinic and a daytime service center.  

The old shelter “will remain open as an emergency shelter for unaccompanied men experiencing homelessness until construction of the new site is complete,” according to Dora Taylor-Lowe of the Department of Human Services, in an interview with the Washington City Paper. The new shelter will cost about 40 million dollars to build and will be finished in winter 2020-21.  

The city is in the process of selecting a company to build the new 801 East shelter. Each potential contractor needs to submit an itemized list with a price breakdown, among other requirements, all of which can be found in the Request for Proposal from the D.C. Government. 

Construction on this project was originally scheduled to start on April 23, but according to a statement from Keith Anderson, the Director of the Department of General Services, the deadline to receive applications from potential contractors was pushed back several weeks, which lead to the subsequent delay of the construction. The contractor award letter is expected to come out in early May, around the same time construction is scheduled to begin on the new shelter.