Photo of the Hermano Pedro day shelter at Sacred Heart Church
Reginald Black

With the coming of spring you can really feel change coming to Washington. The cherry blossoms are beginning to bloom and warmer days are in our midst. But there is a dark side to the change in seasons too. With the end of hypothermia season on April 1, the extra cold weather shelter beds are annually put into storage until November.

In addition, it will be harder this spring for homeless people to find a place in the day to relax.

On Friday March 29, the Hermano Pedro day shelter at Sacred Heart Church closed.

[Read more: Hermano Pedro day program prepares to close]

The place offered a welcome refuge from the streets for many. It was originally slated to close in December 2012, but thanks to the efforts of the Shelter Housing and Respectful Change (SHARC) advocacy group, the program was able to finish the season. But now it’s gone.

Between the old La Casa shelter and Hermano Pedro, the homeless of Columbia Heights and Adams Morgan used to have places to go both night and day. La Casa’s bi-lingual emergency shelter closed in the fall of 2010. Ground was only just broken in October for La Casa’s replacement facility, which will provide permanent supportive housing for homeless men. Now Hermano has served its last meal and offered its last day of services. What does this mean as we move into the summer?

[Read more: City breaks ground on new La Casa permanent supportive housing ]

Both Hermano Pedro and La Casa grew in response to the presence of those without a place to call home. Folks came from all over the city came to attend Pedro’s last meal.

As Luis Vasquez, who founded the program, said, “This is a sad day.”

He mentioned that God had called him to start Hermano Pedro and reflected upon the stories of the program’s life and times.

You could feel the emotions of the clients as they thanked the staff of Hermano for all the work they have done for the last ten years.

With the La Casa shelter closing there was one less place for people to go at night. Now, with   Hermano Pedro becoming a memory, there will be one fewer place for people be able to relax during the daylight hours. How will Columbia Heights and Adams Morgan residents deal with once again seeing the homeless outside? Some say that the area will once again begin to look like it did back before LaCasa and Hermano Pedro opened. Now that these two social services are gone how will the District government respond? These questions have yet to be answered.