Dear PoP – More Neighbor Problems


“Dear PoP,

We live in a row house as many DCers do and the people in the row house next door are, as I understand, Section 8 tenants. Not to pass judgment on these individuals but I’ve certainly had cleaner, more courteous neighbors. The biggest problem is that they have not bothered to get (or perhaps keep) a trashcan and instead just throw their trash out in bags into the alley behind our house which immediately get torn into by rats. The back of our house has thus developed a pretty nasty rat and garbage problem. Anyways I guess my question is, first and foremost, is there anything we can do about this? Is there some sort of venue to file a complaint? Are there certain requirements that they must meet (besides income) to maintain residence in their subsidized house, such as not turning it and the adjacent properties into complete filth-holes?”

This is a very uncool situation. Ed. Note: I’m sure Section 8, “regular” renters and owners could all be guilty of this unhealthy behavior. Let’s try not to focus on that though and rather address the question itself. What should the reader do? Contact DCRA? Council Member? Call 311? Can they request a trashcan for the neighbor?

And I know it can be awkward an conversation but have you asked the neighbor if they are getting a trashcan or if they want your help in getting them a trashcan?

45 Comment

  • Call 311 and order trash and recycling cans for them. It’s free. We did it for our neighbors, it worked well, so, anecdotally, it’s a great idea. Getting them to use it will be a bridge to cross when you come to it.

    Captcha – Wednesday crudely

  • DPW handles the cleanup and DCRA will handle the fining/ticketing. Rather than calling these offices up on your own, try to get in contact with the mayors outreach person for your ward. They are often able to route the request quicker than it would take you to figure out whom to call. The former ward-5 person, Alice Thompson, was wonderful for taking care of trash piling up behind vacants. I haven’t had to call her replacement yet.,a,3,q,572799.asp

  • Call the city help line (311) everyday your neighbors leave their trash out there. Perhaps someone with a little sense in that office will notice the pattern after a crew is sent that often to clean up. After all law enforcement is the city’s responsibility, not yours.

    Littering is epidemic in this city and there is no enforcment – period. What happened to the generation of Woodsy the Owl followers… Give a hoot, don’t pollute.

  • There are city numbers you can call to report a rat problem. I typed in “rat control” as a search term at the website and got the following page:
    I imagine that as part of treating the area the responding agencies would work to get the garbage situation under control.

    I don’t think you can request a trash can for someone else. You might want to talk with the neighbors and find out if they have one or know how to get one. Or you could report your can stolen, get a new one, and give it to the neighbors. This option may be more difficult of your trash route uses supercans (there is one in the picture). A friend of mine just moved to a newly renovated home and had to provide proof of ownership before the city would send her a supercan. I have received replacements for regular trash cans just by calling.

    I am surprised that these folks have not received any tickets for the mess behind their homes. A couple of years back I got a $75 ticket just for leaving my trashcan in the alley on non-collection days.

    • You definately can request one, they just ask for a (any will suffice) name and the address it’s going to. Just did it, you can too.

  • DCRA?? What a joke! My next door neighbor’s porch has been slowly collapsing for months and DCRA has done nothing. Even after Jim Graham got involved and pressed DCRA, they simply ignore our emails and calls. They are entirely useless, from top to bottom. The Mogadishu department of public works is more effective than DCRA.

    • ah

      Untrue. DCRA is very good at issuing citations with ludicrously high fines. They just probably haven’t figured out what citation to issue for a collapsing porch.

  • I just wrote into the Petworth list serve about this same issue. After the snow melted on my street it revealed some really nasty trash piles both in front and in back of my neighbor’s house. I tried to be the bigger person and pick up everything last weekend- but as I walked out today, there was litter all over again. The alley way looks just like yours- trash everywhere that had been torn up by rats. I guess the garbage men don’t pick up anything that isn’t in bags. I got no response from authorities either when I tried to report it.

  • Seems like the nice and easy thing to do would be to call up and order them some trash cans. And then put their trash in it, just once, and they’ll hopefully get the message. Some people don’t know you can just call and ask.
    The supercans cost money, but they’ll send a smaller one for free.

    • and if they don’t get the message, perhaps ask them nicely, explaining the rat problem?
      I don’t understand why everyone first jumps to ticketing and conflict.

      • Because it’s such an obvious thing to take care of your own trash problem. It’s not something that should have to be explained.

      • Having some experience in the atrociously bad neighbor area, I’m pretty sure you can assume that if the poster thought that these were the kind of neighbors that might respond to asking nicely, they would have asked already.

      • why don’t you understand that? Have you ever lived near a truly truly immature person?

        In 1995 I had a neighbor who asked me for money like they were homeless. I asked the guy for my $5 back he looked like he was going to sh*t himself or kill me or both.

        You call the police on repeat criminals, period. Anything less is Iowa Naivete.

    • Yeah, I’d call and get them the cans, but I have no doubt that convincing them to use them would be the tricky part. Once they showed up, I’d catch them outside on trash day, point out the cans, and — politely at first, impolitely immediately thereafter — let them know what they are for and my expectations that they be used. I sure as hell wouldn’t put any trash in it for them.

      And why escalate to penalty and conflict? (a) Because it’s clear that the people who do this have ZERO respect or regard for their neighbors. We’re not talking rocket science here. If they won’t do this, they’re owed zero respect in return. As nice as it is to assume mutual respect in dealing with one’s neighbors, some people, by their actions, lose the benefit of that presumption very quickly. (b) Because it’s not the neighbor’s job to make sure they follow the rules, and he has no ability to enforce the rules. It’s basic economics that you’ll change your behavior much quicker when it costs you more.

  • I called 311 when our neighbors (college students or recent grads, not Section 8) left a mountain of badly managed trash behind their house. Later that afternoon I heard a trash truck in the alley and the trash had disappeared. Call 311 to get the immediate situation resolved.

    And, talk to your neighbors too, unless they are hostile.

  • White people trying to tell other people they are right and we, as others, or apparently those who are on section 8, are incorrect.

    God, just live your lives and learn to love rather than pointing out trivialness.

    You want the luxuries of not having to deal with section 8, the luxuries of having trash picked up every week, etc? Then move back to the suburbs or learn to deal.

    • what kind of anti-black racist claptrap are you suggesting! Are you saying that black people, based on race, live like animals? Check yourself before you wreck yourself. African-Americans can be every bit as educated, sophisticated and clean as the suburbs. Go back to Selma, Alabama Bull Connor.

    • This is a fundamental problem in DC. The embrace of conduct that is wholly anti-social and just flat wrong in the name of preserving the ability to say “you/your group are not going to tell me/my group what to do.”

      No one should have to “just deal” with rats and trash issues that are avoidable but for one idiot’s action or inaction. Despite what you may think, objectively, there are some rights and wrongs in the District and beyond (in many cases, we call them laws and write them down so that no one is confused), and this neighbor is clearly wrong.

    • Bashon, that is ridiculous. Trash pickup and no rats are not “luxuries” of the suburbs. Jesus.

  • You are a complete idiot who epitomizes everything wrong with DC. All decent people — black, white, green or purple — agree that living without filth and rats is not a luxury. Moron.

    African-American CH Resident

  • Trivialness – Really?

    Streets overrun with trash and rats is hardly trivial. This causes diseases, problems with the drains, danger to children playing, pollution in the river and ocean just to mention a few.

    Having trash picked up is not a luxury, that is what we pay taxes for, home owners and renters alike. I assume you fall into one of those categories.

  • I had an impossible time getting a new trash can when we were renting a house. The landlord finally had to call and get it because there was already a can registered to that address.

    I would consult the landlord, if possible, and ask them to order a new trash can.

    In the meantime, the trash guys did pick up the trash even though it was in a non-issued can. Maybe you could just spend $20 and buy them a new can until the matter is resolved…

  • Supercans cost $70.

  • I got a supercan within the last month, and in order to get it free, had to provide proof that I recently purchased a home.

  • In the latest “Trailer Park Boys” (Countdown to Liquor Day) Ricky swipes all the green cans in the neighborhood and equips them with lights & foil, dirt & a pot plant then sells them for only $50.00!

  • ah

    See, this is the problem. The DPW website says they cost $62.50. Or, if stolen, it will be replaced for $20 if you have a police report. Nothing about new houses. Nothing about free (except in 2001).

    Now, I’m not questioning anyone’s experience getting them free for a new house or a stolen one, but if you have a Section 8 tenant chances are they’re more likely to be confused by DPW’s info than people posting here. And chances are they’re not rolling in dough such that they are willing to shell out $62.50, or even $20, for the can.

    Anyway, call 311 and request one for \yourself\ at your neighbor’s address. I think the chances they use a supercan if it’s provided are pretty good. If not, start calling DCRA.

  • small trash and recycling cans are free, just call 311 right now and you will see.

  • I live in a house with basement tenants, half of whom are clean and half of whom litter like they are doing gods work and should get paid for it. You will never get people like that to be clean but a free trash can will help.

  • You can also report it stolen and they will replace it once for free.

  • I bought a house with no supercan and had to fax my HUD 1 to get one for free. That was three weeks ago. I would opt for a request to them first. It could be that someone in the family died, or is sick or something else to consider.

  • The whole city looks like crap. Due to nonaction after the blizzards, litter is everywhere, on the sidewalks, gutters, DPW, DDOT, reidents, neighbors, PoP, whoever, is not doing their work in keep DC in compliance with its trash treaty obligations! Seriously Mr. Fenty, have you no concern at all for the Anacostia and Potomac Rivers? Clean the streets before the next rain, come on man!

  • i moved into a new house in CH. went online and ordered my supercan. no problem, no cost.

  • Maybe this is just a sacrificial offering to the God of the Alleyway?!

  • Thanks to everyone for their input but, as there seemed to be a variety of solutions, I called DPW at 202-645-4301. Actually, first I went online and requested a supercan through but nothing was ever delivered even though they claimed it was delivered to the front of the house. So the guy at DPW was very friendly and helpful and told me that for trash can issues to call 202-645-4301 and to ask for Ms. Grant. Ms. Grant informed me that the reason we never had a can delivered is because they will only do so once the landlord calls them and pays for it (so no, they are not free). Also the man at DPW told me that our neighbors absolutely should be reported and ticketed for not partaking in the luxuries of trash can usage and that the number to call for this is 202-737-4404. Thanks again to everyone who took the time to look into this and offer their help.

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