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Justice

The Unsung Government Program That Gives Federal Property to the Homeless

Say hello to Title V, a shockingly sensible way to tap into a vast amount of property sitting unused in American cities.
A homeless person sleeps on the steps of Federal Hall on Wall St. in New York City
A homeless person sleeps on the steps of Federal Hall on Wall St. in New York CityBrendan McDermid/Reuters

For years, residents and officials in Washington, D.C., have debated what to do with an abandoned federal warehouse at 49 L Street SE. Parked a block from both the Nationals Ballpark and the Navy Yard Metro Station, the warehouse couldn’t hope to occupy a better location. A formerly forlorn pocket of the city marked by gay clubs and empty federal warehouses, Navy Yard is now known as Capitol Riverfront—to developers, anyway—and features two of the city’s flashier urban parks, Yards Park and Canal Park.

While neighbors dreamed up plans for a Half Street Market, and members of Congress even convened a hearing (inside the warehouse!) to discuss why the General Services Administration moved so slowly in selling off its disused property, the fate of 49 L Street SE was set decades ago. It will be used as a homeless shelter, or more specifically, a transitional services facility with permanent supportive housing for seniors.