City Desk

ANC Commissioner Thinks D.C. Could Pay Homeless to Shovel Snow

The Chevy Chase neighborhood email list was alive this week with residents discussing the dangers of having senior citizens shoveling their own snow.  The fines for those who don't shovel their snow, they argued, seemed unfair, especially when the city doesn't do a great job of shoveling snow in its own public spaces.

"My 80 year old constituent shoveled her entire corner lot during snowmagedon by herself. It resulted in a year of cortisone shots and finally a knee replacement surgery for her," ANC Commissioner Carolyn "Callie" Cook wrote on neighborhood message board. "The City needs to come up with a better solution than requiring seniors who are a large percentage of homeowners in the district from such rigid rules when it won't even enforce the existing laws on public space when used for commercial purposes.

Cook then proposed an idea: hire homeless people who are willing and able to be the District's seasonal snow shovelers.

"They could be given a warm outfit to work in, earn a decent living, and perhaps get back on their feet with some creative thinking and attention to this under-represented constituency," she wrote.

But, as one commenter pointed, how would Chevy Chase get homeless people to "parts of towns like ours," particularly when transportation options are sparse in the aftermath of a storm.

Logistical hurdles aside, this probably isn't the kind of policy Vince Gray is looking for to solve D.C.'s homelessness crisis.

Photo by Mike DeBonis.

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  • Johnny Walker Red

    GREAT IDEA! Everyone knows how reliable homeless people can be for getting the job done…whenever you have a project that must get completed rain or shine, nowhere will you find a more wholesome, "roll-up-your-sleeves" "let's get to it" motivating attitude than DC's homeless citizens.

    Schizophrenia, crapped pants, delirium tremens, and hallucinations aside, SHOVEL SHOVEL SHOVEL! During the summer, maybe they might like to pull weeds and grow vegetables.

  • Ann

    There are enough un- or underemployed people in this city that I'm sure there would be plenty of takers if they offered anyone money to clear snow. The New York City sanitation department does it and the unemployed they talked to in the NYTimes article were praying for snow for the chance to earn some money.

  • Ben

    hey maybe when they're done shoveling, they can watch my kids for several hours while I'm at Colombia CC, as long as they're still taking their meds that is!

  • DC Guy

    Maybe the 80 year old resident can hire someone, or maybe a neighbor would be willing to help. If they can't take care of it themselves or make proper arrangements, then maybe managing the house is too much for them. It certainly isn't fair to the other seniors (and everyone else in the community) to have to try to traverse their unshoveled sidewalk.

  • Typical DC BS

    Yes, DC can abate senior citizens property taxes, but heaven forbid they have to follow the same rules as everybody else.

    Not much sympathy for the Chevy Chase residents who have to shovel snow. I'm sure they're more than able to hire someone to shovel for them. Being retired, I'm sure they have plenty of time to research and hire someone well in advance.

  • Chevy Chase 42

    A naive idea, which would do nothing to address homelessness or unshoveled sidewalks. The solutions for the former are complex and serious. The solutions for the latter are far more simple -- shovel or pay a fine, or if neighbors will not help seniors, form a volunteer snow shovel brigade to canvass the neighborhood. "Get the homeless to do it" is just one of those silly things people sometimes mouth out loud.