D.C.'s homeless shelters are so crowded the city is paying for hundreds of families to stay at hotels in Maryland. Council member Tommy Wells — who is running for mayor — calls the situation a "failure" by the current administration.
In the parking lot of a hotel in Prince George's County where D.C. is paying for homeless families to stay, Wells placed the blame squarely on the shoulders of his opponent, Mayor Vincent Gray.
"We have over 1,400 people in hotels, we have never seen this in 25 years. We are having a crisis... and a failure of the current administration," he said on Tuesday.
During dangerously cold weather, D.C, law requires the local government to provide shelter for anyone seeking it. The Gray administration says the unprecedented cold snap has forced it to take extreme measures. But Wells says the homeless shelter for families has been at full capacity all year.
"D.C. General has been full all year. They knew this was coming," he said, referring to the hospital building on Capitol Hill that is used as an emergency shelter.
Despite his claims, Wells' press conference was criticized by Gray spokesman Pedro Ribeiro.
"What Council member Wells has done is a shameless political stunt that clearly demonstrates he will sacrifice the dignity of those seeking public assistance to try to score cheap political points," he said. "He should be ashamed of himself and its an indicator that when he came to that hotel with the cameras, the people wouldn't come out to speak to him. It's disgusting."
Wells says the city should be using some of the $100 million pledged for affordable housing to help homeless families. The Gray administration counters the local budget for permanent supportive housing has doubled since the mayor took over.