Hide the Homeless: Washington, DC Shelters to Stay Open During Inauguration

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Downtown Washington, D.C. will be the center of attention on Monday for President Obama’s second inauguration. The nation's capital has been preparing for the arrival of nearly 800,000 out-of-towners. One side-note to the city’s preparations includes a mandate that will require the city’s homeless shelters to stay open during the day on Sunday and Monday.

Homeless shelters normally open in the afternoons or early evenings to give people a place to sleep, but remain closed during the mornings and early afternoons. Currently, the only time homeless shelters are required to stay open is if the temperature drops below 32 degrees Fahrenheit to avoid hypothermia. Now, for the inauguration, many of the city’s homeless population will be indoors.

Though Think Progress speculates this may be an attempt to “hide” its homeless population from sight while all eyes are on Washington, it is an obvious over-simplification of the city’s special order.

With so many people predicted to be packed in a small space on Monday, having fewer people on the streets will likely help with traffic and security concerns. Those who are homeless are not mandated to go to the shelters, but will have the option to escape the busy streets during the inauguration.

Admittedly, the juxtaposition of ‘hope’ and ‘change’ and ‘moving forward’ may not look so great next to the Capitol’s homeless population of nearly 7,000 people, but those are likely not the only motives behind the order.

According to Think Progress, the order has received mixed reactions from people who reside at homeless shelters. All in all, however, the order is simply too mild to attract much controversy.