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D.C. Homelessness Advocates Divided Over Gray's Cost-Cutting Amendments

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Mayor Vincent Gray's proposal requiring those living in D.C. homeless shelters to use mandatory savings accounts is seen as a cost-cutting measure by some to help usher residents out of the overcrowded system.

The proposed change has homelessness advocates in the District divided. While some call it "forcing people to save their own money," D.C.'s Coalition for the Homeless is in favor of the amendment.

Director of Case Management Services Glen Rother says it will help people establish the habit of saving. He also says, for some, it would be the first time they would have a bank account.

However, Janelle Treibitz of the Fair Budget Coalition says it's not a help, but a hindrance to require the homeless to put away up to one-third of their income. She says it may not be possible for the poorest of the poor.

"They get $300 a month," she says. "And if they had to put 30 percent of that away, they can barely get enough transportation to take their kids to school."

A voluntary savings program already exists at the District's Coalition for the Homeless. Rother says his clients saved more than $75,000 combined last year.

The Coalition is calling for Mayor Gray to repeal the proposed amendment before the D.C. Council votes on the proposals later this month.

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