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D.C. Finds Money To Build Playground At D.C. General Homeless Shelter

D.C. General has been used as a homeless shelter for years.
WAMU/Martin Austermuhle
D.C. General has been used as a homeless shelter for years.

The more than 500 homeless children living at the D.C. General shelter will have a place to play outdoors later this year.

Currently, when kids head outside D.C. General, their playground is the parking lot. "We often see children kicking around soda bottles, drawing on concrete," says Jamila Larson, who runs the Homeless Children's Playtime Project, which has been lobbying the city to build someplace for kids to play.

"They really don't have any constructive outdoor activities," she says.

The District has been housing homeless families at the former hospital for the past seven years. But there's been new attention to the plight of the hundreds of children there, since disappearance of 8-year-old Relisha Rudd four months ago. City leaders have been pushing to close the shelter.

Brian Flahaven represents the area around D.C. General, on the local advisory neighborhood commission.

"The neighborhood hopes that this is an effort to try to help in the short-term, that this is not used as an excuse to say, 'Look, we've improved things here, now that we have the playground, let's keep D.C. General open,'" he says.

The playground is scheduled to open in September, with funding from the city, as well as private donors.

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