Petition to “Stop violent group home from moving next door to Powell Elementary”

1350 Upshur Street, NW

A reader sends the petition posted by a group called DC Safe Streets:

“Muriel Bowser and Mayor Gray : Stop violent group home from moving next door to Powell Elementary

The placement of this facility at 1345 Taylor St. NW is dangerous to the students of Powell Elementary School and the neighboring community.”

As of Wed. afternoon it had 131 signatures. Following is the full letter:

Vincent Gray, Mayor, Washington DC
Muriel Bowser, Ward 4 Council Member

I am deeply concerned about news that a residential youth drug rehabilitation facility is being placed at 1345 Taylor Street NW. Neighbors were not notified in advance of the property owner’s intent to place a youth drug rehabilitation facility on the property.

This building is just across the alley from the Powell Elementary playground and less than a block away from a DCRA and DC police identified nuisance property with a history of violence and drug activity. Placing youths undergoing drug rehabilitation so close to known drug dealers is inappropriate and unsafe for the residents of the rehabilitation facility, the students of Powell Elementary, surrounding neighbors.

We are also concerned because of the history behind the property at 1345 Taylor Street NW, which has previously housed: a brothel that was raided and vacated by DC Police and, most recently, tenants that broke into Powell Elementary in September 2012 and stole video and audio equipment, vandalized and broke into neighbors’ homes, and stole packages from the front porches of surrounding neighbors.

Will you support the safety of Powell Elementary School students and the surrounding community by stopping this dangerous and inappropriate facility? Thank you very much in advance for your consideration and for your leadership.”

65 Comment

  • Powell Elementary School Administrators were not informed of this proposed facility. Sign the Petition here:

    • For those that are interested, we received a disappointing response from Bowser’s office, and it has been over a week and they haven’t gotten back in touch with us regarding their inquiry into the “other agencies.” We’ve been in contact with the Powell Elementary principal and she is spreading the word and inquiring about it. We are also going to contact Gray’s office again and send him Bowser’s response. Here it is:

      “Councilmember Bowser has asked me to respond to your email regarding the Group Home at 1345 Taylor St NW. I have read through your letter and certainly appreciate the concerns of all the residents as well as the special concerns related to Powell School.

      I have asked the various city agencies that contract out for these homes to see if we can determine exactly what type of residential care facility will be located at this address. As you may know, the courts have determined that not only may a group home be located anywhere, but in some cases we don’t even have the right to know the classification for those who are living there. This can be frustrating for you as neighbors, but the courts have stated that those in residential care facilities have a right to privacy. Nonetheless I have asked our agencies and as soon as I get the responses I will let you know.

      No matter who lives in any home, they must be good neighbors. Should you or any on your block believe those at 1345 are disruptive in any way you must call 911. The police have always been responsive to any calls regarding Group Homes and in addition it is important to have a track record for the contractors and our agencies. The Councilmember is extremely engaged on this issue and believes that residents in our Ward have the right to live in safety and as a community while recognizing the rights of those who need residential care facilities. She has held community meetings on this subject with the city agencies. If you go to her website; http://www.murielbowser.comunder Action Item Follow-Ups you will see a section on Group Homes that includes an opinion from both the DC Attorney General and the DC General Counsel. I hope this is helpful. I would be more than happy to continue to continue to discuss this issue, and of course any other issues of concern to you.”

      As a resident of this area and a victim of crime in this area, it seems reasonable that due diligence be required of DYRS to require the organization funding the group home to research police reports and have to meet an established standard regarding the number crimes in the vicinity before implementation. The neighborhood is already struggling with crime – see 63 violent crimes within 1000 feet of 1300 Taylor St since 9/1/2011. Including shootings on the 1300 block.

      • And she expects to be Mayor and this is her response. Best thing in the world to do is tell as many people as possible. Threaten her potential position as mayor and I bet she will suddenly become most responsive


    • It’s the children we are trying to rid our self of? How many more group homes do we need. Isn’t there one on 14th street already between Shepherd and Taylor next to the Church on the corner of 14th street.

  • WOW! this is outrageous that anyone would purpose putting a place like this any where near a school. Plus isn’t this down the street from a parole place too. Little bit much in such a small area

  • I’m confused. It’s for youth convicted of drugs offenses, not violence, right?

    • I’m confused too. It sounds like the concern is more with the nearby drug house, not this.

    • Within the past year, people within the program have committed violent crimes such as burglary and assault.

      • Even though the DC Code for some bizarre reason includes burglary as a violent crime, it is more akin to a property crime at common law.

        A bunch of teenagers trying to kick their addiction to prescription pills aren’t likely to do anything to an elementary school student. Who robs kids for lunch money to buy Percocets?

    •, the organization managing this facility has a history of illegal and violent offenses with participants/residents of their programs including: robbery, armed robbery, assault, assault with a weapon, procession of a pistol, assault of a police officer…

      Some of the grants used to fund these programs classify the programs and “drug rehabilitation” facilities and or DOL “workforce development grants”

    •, the organization managing this facility has a history of illegal and violent offenses with participants/residents of their programs including: robbery, armed robbery, assault, assault with a weapon, procession of a pistol, assault of a police officer…

      Some of the grants used to fund these programs classify the programs and “drug rehabilitation” facilities.

      • Not to sound lazy here, but you’ve linked to a 98-page document that’s chock-full of information. It would be helpful if you could point readers to the passages or pages that, specifically, have you concerned about Lifedeeds as a group home operator. I’m not trying to argue that the facility SHOULD go forward as proposed, I would just like to be able to make an informed opinion.

        • I found the offenses by just opening the pdf and doing a search on Life Deeds and they all came up. Some are pretty ugly like assaulting a police officer

    •, the organization managing this facility has a history of illegal and violent offenses with participants/residents of their programs including: robbery, armed robbery, assault, assault with a weapon, procession of a pistol, assault of a police officer…

      Some of the grants used to fund these programs classify the programs and “drug rehabilitation” facilities

      • Maybe that information should be included in the petition language. to someone outside of the neighborhood who’s not familiar with the circumstances the petition makes no sense.

        • Yeah, I didn’t see the connection to violence at all, and I thought, “Wow, what a bunch of alarmist NIMBYs. People in drug rehab aren’t automatically violent.”

          But if this place already exists and every single person has committed the violent crimes mentioned in the comments, then that needs to be in the petition. If it’s just one or two people, I’d need to know how many other people are in the house, what happens when these people commit the violent crimes, etc.

          • Exactly. I don’t want to dismiss the community’s concerns, and I don’t doubt that there are some seriously crappy and mismanaging group home/rehab operators out there. BUT I think we need a better overall picture of Lifedeeds and its participants’ outcomes. Were the offenses cited in other comments committed by residents prior to entering the facility, or during their stay in the facility? (I would assume the concern is the latter, but not all of the comments were clear on that.) Also, the fact is, with any program serving offenders at any age, some percentage of those individuals ARE going to re-offend at some point. How many youth does Lifedeeds serve, and are repeat offenses rampant, or are we talking about a handful of individuals within a much larger population who are re-offending?

      • Those are some pretty serious accusations. How did you find out about this history of illegal and violent activity? It’s hard for me to believe this nonprofit organization would still be operating and opening new facilities if the people managing it have been charged with assault of a police officer, armed robbery, etc.

        • Ah, I misread that. It’s the participants who have been charged with those offenses. I’m still curious as to how you learned of this history. And I agree that information (with sources) would be useful to include in the petition language.

  • Not. In. My. Back. Yard.

    • Offenses include position of pistol and armed robbery…sign the petition

      • Offenses by a rehab facility that doesn’t yet exist?

        • The owner of the house is renting to a program that has been in other locations before. We recently found out what has happened in those locations. See the other crimes mentioned in the comments — robbery, assault, the allowed use of drugs within the program, etc

    • Obnoxious. People in these neighborhoods already have LOTS of social services in their back yards. Every neighborhood needs to help address our social problems in this city. Why not locate a facility in Cleveland Park or Tenleytown for a change? The truth is that while doing so would alleviate a lot of our problems that come from concentrating poverty and crime, the real NIMBYs in Tony parts of Northwest have money and political influence.

  • I guess the second question is where should a group place like this go? I mean obviously there’s issues with these types of places not being run quite right, but they have to exist. These kids have to go somewhere, here maybe not, but then where?

    My vote, all facilities like this should exist on the opposite side of a police station. Lets see how much trafficking will go in and out of these facilities when there’s dozens of on duty officers standing across the street.

    • They should go out in the middle of nowhere. Miles from any other people, on a working farm which will provide their food. They don’t farm, they don’t eat. Let them learn the value of hard work, and learn to appreciate the benefits of living among the rest of us. Then they can come back.

      • How do you know that drug addicts don’t know the value of hard work and don’t to appreciate the (questionable) benefits of living among the rest of us? Battling a drug addiction is hard enough work.

        • Well, then it’ll be that much easier if they’re far away from anyplace to get drugs. AND, there will be much less chance that law-abiding citizens will be victimized when work isn’t enough to get the needed fix.

          • But that wasn’t your original argument.

          • Riiiight, cause farmers and Rural people have no access to drugs (not like farmers can’t easily grow weed and harvest shrooms in cow dung nor do people set up remote meth labs).

        • Also, let’s be clear. We aren’t talking about poor innocents who happen to have a weakness when it comes to drugs and are looking to get clean. These are convicted criminals serving court-ordered sentences in half-way houses as opposed to (or following) prison.

          • I know a guy that had to go to one of these. He’d gotten into a car accident while having a reaction to a drug he’d been legally prescribed. They’re not all hardened violent criminals.

          • Are you willing to say that his situation was the norm for the facility he was in?

          • Well, he said the guys he was in the facility with were all pretty nice.

          • These are convicted criminals serving court-ordered sentences

            Yes, convicted in many cases of possessing drugs. And sentenced to treatment since prison doesn’t help people stop addiction.

            Look, if my kid went to Powell I’m sure I’d be upset. But the treatment centers need to go somewhere. I’d be curious to see a map of drug possession arrests…seems the neighborhoods with the most arrests should have the most treatment options.

          • I don’t agree that drug treatment needs to be geographically proximate to where the crimes are happening. It probably isn’t the best idea to have people trying to recover in the neighborhoods/people where they got into trouble. That is especially the case in a residential facility with minimal security, where the facility operators are very clear that this is not a treatment regime (the residents aren’t prohibited from drug use). I don’t live in this neighborhood. But I do I live in an area (Truxton Circle) that hosts a wide variety of treatment facilities and social services. I can tell you from experience that the quality of the operator has a huge impact on how well these types services integrate with the community. I have nothing against these facilities, but they need to be run well and they need to be thoughtfully placed. Neither of these criteria are remotely met in this case.

          • So that the drug abusers can stay close to their dealers, and to the people who they use with? Yeah, that’ll work.

      • I feel your pain, but that’s not the way young adults learn, and its very hard to get through to many of them with psychological problems. Maybe we need more information before making a judgment call; this is very difficult for me and many. Especially when their are so many vagrancy in our neighborhood already. I am not prepared to set a tone for what this home will look like, but it is food for thought. Can we revoke the license for this address if it causing more vagrancy. On the other hand how far are we to go with policing our neighbors. If such is the case then how many adults should be legally people should be in one

    • Why don’t you ask the reason that they never locate this organization around connecticut avenue or wisconsin. Let the Chevy Chase people enjoy this type of rehabilitation institution.

    • That assumes the DC police would do anything to stop crime. And that the police aren’t trafficking drugs themselves. I’ve lived in DC long enough to know not to assume either.

  • Booo. Do build in my back yard. The police should deal with the drug dealers; the community shouldn’t banish those undergoing rehab. Let them build.

  • I just signed. There seems to be a heavy concentration of social services on Taylor Street. The parole offices, Green door DC human Services…

    • Exactly. And it’s not just Powell that’s nearby, there’s also McFarlane and Roosvelt. This should not happen.

  • Yea classic NIMB.

  • Strange that there’s so much trouble policing the area given that there’s a station three blocks away.

  • I don’t live nearby, but I wouldn’t want this in my backyard either.
    My understanding is that the 1300 and 1400 blocks of Taylor are already problem areas. Adding a rehab facility to the mix can’t improve the block and if anything, is likely to drag it further down.

  • I live in the neighborhood and, aside from (1) the school, (2) the outsize share of social services on the 1200 block of Taylor, (3) the documented history of drug houses on this block, and (4) the allegations of violent patients in this operator’s facilities –all of which do seem like legitimate concerns — I have to wonder how this is okay in a Residential Zoned block?

    To my knowledge this block is not dual zoned like nearby 14th street or the 1200 block of Taylor. And while this is a residential facility, it’s still also a drug treatment program. It seems to me that a services program is nonetheless a business (non-profit or otherwise) and should be in dual-zoned commercial area, like around the corner on 14th. This location is a mid-block rowhouse and in addition to above concerns, I’d add basic residential block concerns like traffic and density and visitors and resident turn-over. I think it would be reasonable to oppose, for instance, a hostel in this location as soon as a treatment center. Its an operation that belongs in a commercial zone, not a block of single-family homes. We’re not talking about a home office or home hair braiding operation (allowed in residential zoning) here.

  • I wish I could suggest a place for them to go, but it isn’t for me to decide. I am not comfortable having habitual drug users (even if there isn’t violent history) near a school. I think having a facility like this near a school or in a residential neighborhood are two different issues. I’m against the school. I wouldn’t like it in my neighborhood (and it might lead me to move) but those are the breaks!

  • Just out of curiosity, but is there any evidence at all that these petitions have ever worked…?

  • Send the drug rehab kids back to the same place they go in every other state, back to Juve. The city needs to stop dumping people into the neighborhoods to deal with them. Especially DYRS. DYRS needs to be shut down.

    • I’m not sure where the assumption is coming from that the District is doing something unique and unorthodox in placing at-risk youth and youth offenders in group homes, and that all other states rely solely on juvenile detention. Whether or not this specific facility should be placed on Taylor Street, given some of the existing issues and concentration of services in that area, is certainly a valid question that merits debate. But automatically throwing drug addicts and drug offenders in jail, whether it’s juvie or adult jail, is an approach that’s well-documented as not terribly effective at addressing the root problem of drug use/addiction, not to mention that incarceration/detention is extremely expensive. This is not to sing the praises of DYRS or suggest that improvements aren’t needed in the District, but I’d encourage anyone interested in these issues to look at some of the results of alternatives-to-detention initiatives in a number of other states:

  • I signed the petition. Its not just NIMBYism either. Its the complete and utter incompetence of DYFS to manage folks in their “custody”–I think it was just a year or so ago there was a story that one in four juveniles in the DYFS care were either killed or would participate in a killing in the course of a year. WTF? Group homes in DC are a fucking joke, the kids know it and come and go as they please. There is no place for these homes in any residential area. And lets be real, you know this shit would never be proposed West of the Park.

  • Stop violent group home from moving next door to Powell Elementary.

  • My goodness. So much hubbub about one little group home. News Flash: There is a LOT of crime around that area. A LOT. You all know about the suburbs, right?

    • Ahh, the same familiar “If you don’t like it, move to Reston” false binary.

      There being “a LOT of crime around that area” is all the more reason not to add additional crime — that’s how many in the area (and elsewhere) feel.

    • Well when I can get the big grand Victorian home that I live in in Reston and not some cookie cutter home that looks the same for the next 10 miles I will run right out there. In the mean time this is ridicules that the city would consider putting this facility in this location. Maybe they should put it in Reston?

  • It would appear that the comments are meant more for petition signers to debate than to go directly to Ms. Bowser and Mayor Gray. As someone who has lived here for a long time, I would say that we already have too much trouble with drug activity and vagrancy on this block and we have more than our fair share social services in the immediate neighborhood. And in addition to Powell, there are charters and Upshur Park.

  • DC has way too many kids with aggression and violence issues, but at least it’s not Chicago, New Orleans , Detroit , or Brooklyn. Placement of such a facility on that block is a horrible idea, it should not be allowed….

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