Just a few minutes from the U.S. Capitol is Open Door Shelter, which is operated by New Hope Ministries, a local nonprofit founded in 1993.  

Open Door provides emergency shelter for women on a nightly basis. With 128 beds, 18 of which are usually set aside on cold nights for hypothermia cases, the shelter is almost always completely full, says program director Rev. Alberta Johnson.  

In addition to Open Door on 2nd Street NW, Johnson runs the John L. Young Women’s Center just around the corner on D Street NW, which New Hope took over last December after Catholic Charities. The center has 85 beds and is full to capacity every night, Johnson said. On the same block is DC Central Kitchen, which provides dinner for the shelter every night.  

“DC Kitchen’s always very helpful,” said Johnson. “Not only do they send over dinner; they provide sandwiches and snacks whenever they can. We also have a good collaborative effort with other local organizations … A lot of faith-based groups will bring in hot soup or drinks for the ladies.”  

For New Hope Ministries executive director John Shetterly, the biggest accomplishment in the last year was simply surviving it. Funding cuts from the city forced them to close their shelter and transitional program for men, as well as the Safe Haven Program, a shelter that targeted the mentally ill. “We’ve downsized and made a lot of cuts so we can at least be in a position to continue to provide any services at all—in this case, to the women that need them,” said Shetterly 

“It’s been difficult to tell people that we won’t be able to take them in anymore,” said Johnson. “We lose them to the streets. But now we just have to give 100 percent to what we do have.”  

Open Door Shelter is located on 425 2nd Street, NW, Washington, DC 20001. For more information, please call 202- 639-8093.