Multiple beds are lined up along the wall of a large room.
Photo courtesy of Gawron Turgeon Architects/commons.wikimedia.org

In the past few months, the District has close down two groups of trailers that had been used as shelters. The most recent was the Crummell Trailers in Northeast, which had been in use for over a decade and housed nearly 144 men. 

The eight trailers at Crummell Shelter shut April 30. The Martin Luther King, Jr. Trailers in Anacostia were closed down March 31, as hypothermia season ended. That facility houses approximately 126 men and had also been in operation for over a decade. 

With the closing of Crummell and MLK, La Casa in Northwest has the only remaining trailers in the city. 

“I think it is a milestone, because we have finally gotten to a posture where [people] can have some sense of dignity outside of living in trailers,” Cornell Chappelle of the Community Partnership for the Prevention of Homelessness. 

The trailer closings are part of a larger trend in the District, with the city recently closing the Randall Shelter in Southwest and opening other space. The men’s shelter on New York Avenue, NE, continues to expand, as does a new facility on the campus of St. Elizabeth’s in Southeast. 

Some residents of the MLK trailers moved to the nearby St. Elizabeth’s facility, said Chappelle, and some of the Crummell residents moved to the nearby shelter on New York Avenue. The men in Crummell’s transitional housing program moved to New York Avenue as a group. 

Chappelle described both closings as relatively smooth. They were planned for the end of hypothermia season and, with new space available, the men were encouraged to go to the facilities that seemed convenient and appropriate. 

Service providers did have to respond to some disruption and uncertainty. Among the residents needing extra attention were several participants in the Veterans Administration Substance Abuse Rehabilitation Program. James Street, an outreach worker with the VA, said his office worked with Catholic Charities to find new shelter space for those men. The MLK group dispersed, passing up new space at New York Avenue, but those from Crummell are regrouping for a move to the St. Elizabeth’s facility in the near future. 

Asked whether trailers would ever make a comeback, Chappelle said, “I hope not. The better not. Because … it is not our intent to ever have trailers again.”