Photo displays CCNV building
Photo by Street Sense

The Community for Creative Non-Violence (CCNV) filed a lawsuit against the US Department of Health and Human Services and General Services Administration for breach of contract on Jan. 8, alleging that the HHS and GHA attempted to dispossess CCNV from their property and disrupt their activities. This suit is the latest move in an ongoing struggle between the federal government and CCNV over the use of the property currently occupied by the D.C. Central Kitchen, which CCNV has used for 30 years to provide essential services to D.C.’s homeless community. 

The suit seeks to have the property title granted to the CCNV and monetary compensation for no less than $100,000.

In October 2020, the HHS took action to reclaim the property through a “notice of revert,” arguing that CCNV was violating its terms of use outlined in a 1993 deed agreement. 

CCNV in response is arguing in its suit that the HHS breached that deed agreement when it failed to work with the CCNV to improve the property’s conditions. CCNV approached the HHS in 2018 regarding the deteriorating physical conditions of the shelter, seeking financing for a redevelopment project. CCNV says that instead of agreeing to improve the conditions of the building, the HHS manufactured claims that the property was being used in an “unapproved” manner. CCNV further argued that these actions failed to coincide with D.C.’s 2015-2020 Interagency Council on Homelessness Strategic Plan, which stated that the physical conditions in the vast majority of its shelters are “simply unacceptable and offer very little to help reduce the trauma of whatever life events have led individuals and families to shelter.” The suit argues this refusal delayed efforts by the CCNV to improve the poor condition of the shelter and that the HHS should compensate with monetary damages. 

While D.C. currently maintains control over the CCNV shelter building, the deed is set to expire in July. When the deed expires, the CCNV will outright own the property, leaving the federal government with no legal claims to the land.

Amid cold temperatures and the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization says it has had the stability of its operations jeopardized, threatening the safety and wellbeing of the 1,000 residents they host nightly.