WASHINGTON – Terri Bishop expects her month-long hunger strike in front of the mayor’s office to pay off.
Bishop, vice president of the city’s largest homeless shelter, said Mayor Marion Barry on Thursday visited her sidewalk outpost and committed $250,000 to fixing the sagging and leaking roof.
The mayor’s spokeswoman, Raymone Bain, would not comment on specifics Friday. But she said Barry will announce “sometime next week” the city’s plans for the roof.
Bishop said she’ll end her hunger strike when Barry makes his commitment public.
She said she felt “pretty good,” despite the month-long fast. Until last week, she said, she drank only water and one glass of juice each day. Serious stomach cramps and general lethargy encouraged her to also start taking a daily glass of chicken broth.
“It’s embarrassing for them to have me out here,” Bishop said of the mayor’s office. She said for five years, officials at the shelter, the Community for Creative Non-Violence, have been trying to get the city to repair the dilapidated roof. It pours gallons of water into the shelter dining room and some sleeping quarters each time it rains.
Fred Henry, CCNV’s president, said the estimated cost in 1992 for repairs was $80,000. Now, he said, the figure could be as high as $500,000.
The city-owned building was acquired in the late 1980s as part of the Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act, which allows federal buildings to be used to house the homeless.
The District government owns the building, which sits just a few blocks from the Capitol, and leases it to CCNV for $1. The lease expires in the year 2000.
In addition to 1,350 beds, the shelter also houses a emergency hypothermia unit during the winter and four separate homeless services – a health clinic, central kitchen, drug counseling and education center.
The block-sized building has been mired in controversy since the mid 1980s, when it was taken over and run by homeless activist Mitch Snyder. Snyder committed suicide in 1990, and his partner and girlfriend, Carol Fennelly, took over.
Fennelly was voted out by the board of directors after a CBS television magazine piece exposed unsavory activities at the shelter. Her successor, Keith Mitchell, was fired in November by the shelter’s board of directors. He is the subject of a grand jury probe over mismanagement of shelter funds. -30-