Dear PoPville – “To cut a long and convoluted story short, ‘Alternative Solutions for Youth’ is running an atrocious mess that they call rehabilitative services”

barbed wire

“Dear PoPville,

To cut a long and convoluted story short, “Alternative Solutions for Youth” at 5808 14th St. NW is running an atrocious mess that they call rehabilitative services, but what DC classifies as a jail. An older neighbor confirmed that they did not consult or even notify the neighborhood before creating this monstrocity. They also do not even have the proper city permit to be in operation, as confirmed by our ANC rep.

I hate to start listing the ways that this place is offensive and disgusting, because I could go on and on, but here are a few:
– Incidents of inmates escaping, including one shot and killed in Petworth after escaping
– Security guards yelling and swearing on cell phones
– Inmates yell about guns and other indecencies out the window
– Windows shoddily boarded up with plywood, cardboard, other materials
– Barbed wire running along the top of their poorly built fences
– Trash thrown by guards into our backyard

We have been working with a lawyer and the ANC rep for months on this issue, and we need support from more neighbors. I would like to ask for any 4A residents´ help at the monthly meeting, 7:00 PM on Tuesday, February 4, 2014, at Fort Stevens Recreation Center (13th and Van Buren Streets NW).”

boarded windows

103 Comment

  • Wow I cannot believe that is legal. That’s not within my ANC but I would love to show some support. Is there a petition for those who cannot make the meeting in person?

  • A jail? No, this is the DC Public School’s honors program!

  • Wow, many parts of DC are such amateur hour, it’s hilarious. Sorry to this neighbor.

  • Why you don’t provide the address so we can look closer.

  • Sent this to News 4

  • Yikes. I would contact your councilmember, either by phone, email, or twitter. once it get some sort of publicity, the council is all over the issue to try to stem the tide of bad press. That should fix it.

    • Love the idea, thanks! I just tweeted DCRA, and I´ll try to find the councilmember´s twitter too…

    • I can tell you right now contacting Bowser is a complete waste of time. The we have been trying to stop the same thing from coming to the 1345 Taylor st Nw and Bowser has been even less than useless. DCRA helped with housing violations but they can only do so much. This needs to be taken to the level of the mayor. You may want to try and get help from one of the at large councilmen (Grosso more than the other one)

      • You are right about Muriel Bowser. I contacted her office about this place and they didn’t even answer my e-mails or return my call. Since Alternative Solutions for Youth is a big political campaign donor in DC, I doubt the mayor’s office or any politician will take this case seriously.

        • is ” Alternative Solutions for Youth” who is running the facility this article is about? The company running the one at 1345 Taylor St NW is Life Deeds

  • I’ll never bitch about the barking Rottweiler behind my condo again.

  • Caveat emptor.

  • Is there anything DCRA can do to address this situation? Attempting to get Ward 4 Councilmember Muriel Bowser or her staff involved on this issue is useless. Muriel is so non-responsive to most of her Ward 4 constituents. I live in this neighborhood which is the 16th Street Heights Civic Association boundaries.

    • Thank you, I am going to contact DCRA. I am completely new to all of this, so any suggestions are helpful. One neighbor, a lawyer, has been doing all kinds of research, and he said that support / pressure from the neighborhood is going to be just about the only way to get them out, but we are willing to do anything at this point.

    • So, I’m just firing this off on the fly and not thinking through the strategy or what the possible outcomes (ie, potential ways in which it could backfire) might be, but just a thought–if you haven’t tried to get Bowser and her staff engaged, give it a try anyway, as neutrally and sincerely as possible. If that goes nowhere and you want to play hardball, see if you can get others on the Council interested in the story–AND in the fact that Bowser’s office was not helpful. Being that Bowser is heading into a mayoral primary, her opponents may love some ammunition that demonstrates she’s not responsive to constituents’ concerns, and bad press could shame her into taking some action. Also, I think someone else mentioned this too, but contacting local investigative news outlets–City Paper, the network news channels either through their investigative reporters or the consumer affairs people–might also help. Just keep in mind that all of these outlets probably get MANY tales of woe and stories of outrage, on a daily/weekly basis, so you have to get the info out there on multiple fronts to improve the story’s chances of getting picked up.

      • If the above works, please let us know, because we would like to join forces. Like MONA expressed above, we have been trying to get answers for 6 months now on the 1345 Taylor St location. We thoughtfully engaged Bowsers office, we called. We sent letters, we called some more, we sent emails. Four months into it, after the contract was awarded, Bowser met with us only because a neighbor saw her at an event and cornered her. At the meeting with 30+ concerned neighbors, she admitted to not knowing anything about our outreach and apologized. After hearing our concerns, she committed to getting us answers. This was in November. We have heard nothing, and still fear a situation similar to the one in this post is coming to our block. We got 100+ hand written signatures from neighbors, 200+ signatures. We reached out to Catania and Grosso, they tried to help us with the process and responded, but nothing more. Bowsers office only committed to meeting with us after the contract was awarded. That is too late for us. We already have problems on our street, and don’t believe adding additional kids with problems will help rehabilitate them. We also were contacted by City Paper, they have our story. Perhaps hearing yours as well will contribute to an article to at least provide for some notice to neighbors and proper research of the police reports in the corresponding area to determine where these homes are approved. We also sent a letter to Gray. We heard nothing, not that I’m surprised at that because it is the council members responsibility, although since Bowser is running against Gray, we thought that could help.

        • I will let you know if there are any developments. It sounds like we could definitely help by joining forces. However, it is awful to hear that the petitioning and such a large number of people united did not prevent them from opening where you are. The only leverage we might have that you did not is that they already exist and do not have the proper permit to function. I worry that it may be our only out because from the comments here on PoP, it sounds like DC reps are not responsive. We will keep trying anyway. Is there somewhere to contact your neighborhood group? We have a new petition, , but maybe I will make a page on Facebook or something for communication.

          • I will send a message out to our neighborhood group to sign the petition. We are also going to the Voting Forum tonight to voice our frustration and hopefully prevent some Bowser votes from happening. Let’s definitely keep in touch. How did the meeting yesterday go? Here is the forum info:

            If you are a registered Ward 4 Democrat, come out and vote for Muriel at the Ward 4 Dems’ Candidates forum. You will be voting to have the Ward 4 Dems endorse and support her candidacy to be the Democratic candidate for Mayor of the District of Columbia.

            You do not have to stay for the whole event. Voting starts at 6:30 pm. If you’re in line by 8:30 pm, you will get a chance to cast your vote.

            The State of Virginia has a new Attorney General who is Democrat. He won by 164 votes. It has a new Democratic State Senator. He won by 11 votes.

            Every vote counts. Muriel is counting on your vote:

            Date: February 5, 2014
            Event: Ward 4 Democrats Forum
            6:30pm Voting Begins
            7:00 pm Forum Begins
            8:30 pm Voting Ends
            Location: Paul Public Charter School, 5800 8th St NW

          • The petition should also be ammended to the OP. And maybe put up direct link on the BW listserv.

          • Sorry I can´t reply to you directly, dc_2000, but I wished I could´ve gone to the Voting Forum. At the ANC meeting we did get to speak with Captain Hill from MPD, who is checking up on activity at 5808 for us.

            Thank you for sending out the petition. We are preparing right now for the Brightwood community meeting on Tuesday, and I will be sure to bring the petition. I would love to keep in touch. You can contact one of us any time at 580814th [ at ] gmail!

  • The dysfunction in DC is sometimes mind blowing. Whether it is leaving a 77 year-old man to die unassisted in front of a firehouse, running an incompetent and unreliable Metro, or building a makeshift jail for dangerous delinquents right in the middle of people’s homes, DC is trying with all its heart to win the race to the bottom. Gotta love the fact that the inmates are only part of the problem- the idiot employees are also anti-social pests. Icing on the cake. My sympathy to the OP.

    • Yep. We had a youth group home across the street from us for awhile and the employees were worse than the youth who had been sent there. I can understand a 14 year old kid raised by a teen mom in a low income neighborhood might make some dumb decisions, but watching the adult staff at that place blew my mind. Great role models for the teen offenders.

    • DC doesn’t run Metro.

    • brookland_rez

      And other states don’t have dysfunction? McDonnell just got indicted in VA. And let’s not even get started on MD, PG county in particular.

  • Alternative Solutions for Youth has no current web presence, and the property sales records show that house owned by an individual, not an organization. They sound extremely shady to me. Shouldn’t a youth services shelter contracted by the DC government have some kind of info available to the public?

    • YES! I tried to make the story as short as possible, but the owner is an individual whose background / contact info is equally as suspicious. They are extraordinarily shady. I just tried to sum it up by saying that they don´t even have the permits to be operating the “center.”

      We actually came across this info originally because they cut a random (large) square out of our property and built a fence on it, if that tells you anything.

      • I don’t understand the fence thing. If they built a fence on your land and commandeered your property, hire a surveyor to properly mark the boundary lines and then enforce as possible/practical. DCRA, lawsuit, you name it.

    • More than likely this is a home owned by a person who has a multi-year contract with the company running this “Jail diversion” program. They are contracted by DYRS to house these kids and are given our tax money

  • OP here–just wanted to add that I don´t want to be all NIMBY crazy, but the issue here is that the place is absolutely not safe, poorly constructed, and a detriment to our day-to-day, particularly in the summer when people would like to be out in the backyard…

  • Was this in existence when you moved in/bought your house? I feel a little less sympathetic if that were the case, which it sounds like based on the description of the older neighbor.

    • It was, and as I told PoP, we were told when we bought the place that it was something like a “community home” for juveniles. Only later we´ve found that that´s not really the truth. Now, just in our building, next door to this mess, there is one senior citizen, a few single women (who have been harassed by the “guards”), a newborn baby, and a pregnant woman. It is really a neighborhood of families, small children, and older people, who are the most vulnerable.

    • LOL. I cannot believe the nerve of the PoPville “caveat emptor” posters. Like, “my neighbor has a habit of shooting people with a rifle from his front window.” “Oh, but was he there when you moved in? Then I have no sympathy for you.” Give me a break, this “institution” is obviously a terrible thing to have in a residential neighborhood. It should be shut down, regardless of how long it’s been in existence, and thankfully the surrounding neighborhood has changed enough that there may hopefully be a critical mass of concerned residents who will advocate for its closure.

      • I reflected on this a bit afterward. Not that anyone will see this but you have a good point. A little bit different situation than I bought and there was a restaurant across the street and now I am upset that I can smell food. I would probably be irked by this as well, although the barbed wire might have been a dead giveaway.

        • I’m the PP who made the anti-“caveat emptor” post. Thanks for reflecting on this, and sorry for making my post more snarky than it needed to be. I think the real point here is that the activity in question in OP’s case is, objectively speaking, a really bad thing. A more realistic analogy than my rifle-in-the-window example would be drug-dealing and gang violence. Lots of people buy houses knowing that dealing and violence occur in the neighborhood. After they move in they will hopefully try to stop it, calling police, etc. This is absolutely the right thing to do. Whereas your restaurant example is probably not an objectively bad thing. It’s more of a neighborhood character question, and different strokes for different folks.

  • I always thought this was a drug house (with the high fences and buzzer to the door.). I guess this is even worse. I live a little north of here (don’t know if I fall under ANC A or B, do you know the northern border?) Have you posted this on the Brightwood list serve? That will rile up the neighborhood and get butts in the seats.

  • My guess (I hope I’m wrong, but have seen this before) is that many of the kids there are being abused, and that Alternative Solutions for Youth is yet another shady operation that direct- bills the DC government (or Medicaid) for each “service” they “provide” to the kids. Based on my experience, I’d call the police and/or make a formal complaint to the AGs office. This is not about NIMBY. It’s about a criminal enterprise harming kids (granted some of the kids may not be angels) next door to you.

    • This is also true! We saw some documents recently that show that they get paid upwards of 300-odd dollars PER RESIDENT PER DAY. And have them living behind boarded up windows and rolls of barbed wire.

    • Just contacted CFSA, going for the AG´s office now! Thank you for your help & ideas!

  • In addition to reaching out to Muriel Bowser, you should contact Tommy Wells’ office since they have oversight of DYRS, MPD, Corrections, etc. (Anne Phelps is the committee director (202) 724-7808). Also reach out to the Mayor’s office of neighborhood engagement (for ward 4 Valencia Becks 202) 340-8555 and Keith Holman (202) 442-8150).

    They (Muriel, Tommy, the Mayor) are all running for office this year so hopefully they will be more than willing to help.

  • That’s one of the best robbery, they charge $300 /day per person best rate even competitive with Ritz Carlton ….

    The mayor is involve on this corrupted business

  • Wow. Everything about this is shady. There is a single owner listed as the property owner (not a corporation/or non profit). He also lists this as his address of residence. This is a commercial enterprise. There are definitely permitting violations and public space violations likely, hell you can’t put up barbed wire in your private space. But the real story to go after is to follow the in how much DC “grant” money are they getting to house juvenile delinquents? These youth group homes are a mess. Everyone likes to say they want to support the youth until this shit moves into your neighborhood. There is a fight brewing in petworth over something very similar. I would fight this as well. OP, if you don’t get a response, Get your neighborhors together and file a law suit.

    • Yeap, the city allows private persons to rent to this companies that run these places. They keep the number of residents to under 6 (you can get them if you can prove there are more than 6) and the owner gets big bucks (our tax dollars) for multi-year leases. The one coming to 1345 Taylor st nw has a 5yr contract for 4k/month. So at 6×300 = 1800/day * 30 = 54k/month. Don’t forget…my block is in an uproar over this and Bowser is supporting as she probably has this one.

      • According to the OCP records, Alternative Solutions for Youth has two contracts on file spanning 2011-2013 (no current contract, suspicious much?) at a value of $1,700,000.

        ONE MILLION & SEVEN-HUNDRED THOUSAND for two years. And on that budget they can´t possible have proper security to prevent escapes, arson, etc.

  • Bowser is allowing this to occur at 1345 Taylor ST NW. This is how she runs her ward. Don’t let her become mayor. Don’t vote for Bowser. Anyone but Boswer.

    • Can you please elaborate? Isn’t the one proposed for that block run by a different organization? Or are you just opposed to the general concept of youth rehabilitation homes? Or do you live on that block perhaps?

      • Live on the block, attended meetings with her about this very thing. The owner of this house was allowing a prostitution ring to run out of this house until the police broke it up. Now have lease with company that wants to answer no questions about how they work and who is even going to be in the facility. Tell the neighbors one thing and ANC completely different things. Very shady bunch and Bowser is supporting them. Her staff even tried to shut up the neighbors when we were asking other DC offices questions about the company and how they got or were getting the contract. She may not realize it but there are several blocks all around this house that she has lost votes with and they are telling all about this debacle she is supporting

  • I urge you to call the police, and have others do so as well. Multiple reports of law enforcement being called to the house can’t hurt when this company is (finally?) investigated. If the police can get inside and document the conditions the kids are being kept in, that’s helpful too. It’s (likely) not just that this company is overcharging and acting sleazy– they are likely *hurting* the kids and certainly not providing the services that they are supposed to. Once a kid gets placed in one of these homes, they have no means of speaking for themselves or publicizing the conditions. The boarded up windows are a fire safety issue as well– start there if you don’t want to call the police. Just get someone IN there.

    • I tried sending an email to FEMS because I can´t find any way else to report a concern to the fire dept. Thank you for the suggestion! We´ll see if they respond…

  • Does anyone know the name of the company that is running this facility?

    • As far as I know, it just goes by “Alternative Solutions for Youth.” Searching online, I found a page for them (“Not found”) on DCASE´s site. Will be contacting them as well. I´ve send emails / tweets / Facebook messages to DC FEMS and police, thanks to another commenter that raised concerns for the safety of those locked inside.

  • Might try the Department of Justice:
    Click on:
    Complaints against institutions
    Jails, prisons, juvenile facilities, developmental disability/mental retardation facilities, mental health facilities or nursing homes)

  • Do the kids leave for school?

    • Not sure—people come and go regularly via a large van (like one of those church vans), but I don´t know where / when they go and return.

  • File a complaint with the fire marshal. They have investigators for each ward of the city. Mention boarded up windows and concern for safe egress. The link below provides their phone number at the bottom of page.

  • Class action lawsuit for DC’s failure to deal with its violent youth. The Godleski Bill. No more guns in the hands of DC youth. Enough with the plea to second and get 15!

  • To all interested parties, please contact the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services (DYRS) to determine if this facility is a Group Home or Therapeutic Group Home that they contract services with or even operate.
    As a few have mentioned, there are multiple facilities that cater to the youth detained population throughout DC. Studies have shown that a community based approach to youth “rehabilitation” is far more effective than centralize jail style detention. The recidivism rates for these youth are far lower then those in a more restrictive model.
    Please also keep in mind that the VAST majority of youth that many people are this thread are villainizing are being locked up for nonviolent crimes. The two leading offense amongst DC Youth are simple possession (of marijuana) and the unauthorized use of a vehicle (driving w/o a license etc.). I would bet that there are weed smokers on this very comment thread, who have also taken a joy ride in their youth.
    At the end of the day, these are OUR youth and OUR ‘problem.’ – My 2 Cents.

    • Thank you for the comment. We would appreciate if everyone reading this story would contact DCRA and DYRS. We have a petition at that is automatically emailed to Muriel Bowser, DCRA, and DYRS when someone signs.

      That being said, we do not know the history of the youth detained here. One was discussed here, having cut off the GPS bracelet and jumping from a third-story window. Another ward was shot in Petworth when he escaped three weeks after being sent to this facility:

      It doesn´t really matter what their histories are if this is going on. It shows that the facility is inadequate with regards to security, and this means that our neighborhood is directly impacted. We residents avoid our own backyard, using the alley next to our building, and even the sidewalk on 14th Street that runs by their front door. We don´t even feel safe coming in and our of our own back doors and using the decks and parking lot without wondering when someone will escape from the jail again and where they will wander this time.

    • operating a vehicle without authorization is car theft, not driving without a license. the fact that you feel the need to obscure facts like this speaks volumes.

      • I apologize for my incorrect statement. It was not my intent to obscure any facts but rather to demonstrate that UUV is not a crime of violence.

        I doubled checked, which I should have done before, and UUV is use of an vehicle without the consent of the owner. It is a seperate offense from the theft charges.

  • The safety of the community and our youth are our number one priority here at the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services. We appreciate and take seriously the concerns brought about by this article. This morning, DYRS sent an inspection team to this facility to ensure full compliance. Other than a few minor repairs, which were attended to immediately, the facility is in full compliance with the District’s licensing requirements. We also spoke with the owner of the facility and he understands the importance of being a good neighbor and respecting the community around the facility. He assured us that he looks forward to an open dialogue with our community members, and he will address any outstanding concerns that you may have. DYRS welcomes the chance to receive community feedback because it is important for us to build the strongest possible relationship with our community stakeholders.

  • Latest developments: We met with Captain Hill from MPD at the ANC meeting yesterday and will follow up with him about safety concerns related to the property. We have discovered that this property is conveniently cut out of the jurisdiction of Sixteenth Street Heights, and therefore this facility is not bound by the bylaws of our neighborhood. We have little recourse at this point but to continue our own investigations, report any activity to the MPD immediately by calling 911, and continue to collect supporters via the petition.

  • Please contact me–202.232.0950 x10 or by email:[email protected]

    I would be pleased to get involved in this fight. The property seems to be in my single member district.I believe that the 16th St. Street Heights Civic Association has been involved in this matter in the past.

    Could you get me a list and contact info for the neighbors who are involved in this matter.


    Dave Wilson

    • Thank you so much, Dave. I was at the ANC meeting previously when we spoke with you and reps from the building. We are still building a case as much as we can, and we will be happy to keep in touch with you and have your support. I will email right now.

  • Is this facility not obviously in violation of the DC Municipal Regulations, 11-358.6? “The facility shall not have an adverse impact on the neighborhood because of traffic, noise, operations, or the number of similar facilities in the area.”

  • Brightwood monthly meeting this Tuesday, 2/11, from 7-9pm at St. John´s Church, 6343 13th Street NW. Neighbors and interested individuals please attend with questions and concerns. A representative from CM Bower’s office and the ANC4A07 Commissioner will be present to discuss!

    • Does any one know what went on at the meeting. What did Bowser promise to do ( but won’t so don’t hold your breath). Was DYRS present and what did they have to say.

  • Barbed & razor wire disappeared yesterday at 5808 14th St. NW, today powerwashing the building. Get it nice & cleaned-up before the community meeting! I´ll be impressed when they build a proper fence.

  • Its amazing how those that remain anonymous talk the loudest. If you want change sit down with the folks that make the decisions.

  • You have my support. I signed the petition. ~ Pedro Rubio, Candidate for At-Large Council (D)

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