Putting Problems in Perspective

pain sculpture

A particularly rough one all around from the Columbia Heights list serve:

“I live in a apartment complex with a foyer entrance. We have had a homeless lady sleeping in our entrance and when she is able to, she sleeps in the actual building. This has been going on for several years and it is a huge problem, she also urinates in our hallways and has threatened people in the past. In the past myself and other tenants have contacted MPD and homeless shelters about this. The homeless people just came and brought her an extra blanket, not the solution we were looking for. MPD said that she needs to be served with a Notice of Barring which I and another tenant served her with (she refused the document) but it’s still effective.

So fast forward to today, she’s again sleeping in foyer and I call 911, and 2 police officers show up and I explain the situation to them, I then get told that the document is not effective because another officer’s name was on it he could not do anything.

So is the document that I tried to serve her with useless? I and other tenants are at our wits end with dealing with this problem. Has anyone encountered something like this before? How did you deal with it?”

28 Comment

  • Why don’t you all chip in and find her a room where she can stay?

    • I don’t think chipping in for a room for a night/week would serve her long term needs. It’s a delicate issue because she is homeless, and likely suffering from some sort of mental health issues (as indicated by the unproved? violence) She doesn’t need to be jailed or committed, but just redirected to some services that can help her to get back on her feet. Healthcare, rehab/mental health medication. Their are services that cater to just women and the elderly. Is there some DC office that could coordinate this?

      Also I agree that the landlord/ management company should address the issue of the buildings security. And tenants should be advised to not let in people that they don’t recognize.

    • lovefifteen

      You’ve got to be kidding me?

      • I suspect Bruno is either trolling or very naive.

        • I have gotten hotel rooms for homeless people before. It’s pretty easy and it gets them a place to stay. It’s not naive. It’s just so easy and obvious people forget it’s an option. You don’t have to take the suggestion, but it’s an option.

          • epric002

            i can appreciate the intent, but that’s a temporary/expensive solution. not to mention, who’s going to be responsible for damages to the hotel room? what if she actually follows through on her threats?

    • We’re already doing that with tax payer-funded shelters.

    • Or get her an Uber ride to Georgetown. As soon as she settles in an apartment foyer there, police will actually do their jobs.

      The police who said they couldn’t do anything should be reported to their superiors.

  • Sounds like you did a lot of things except talk to your landlord or property owner. Maybe a better door to further secure the building would work…

  • How is this not trespassing on private property? Call your district commander and explain what is going on. If that doesn’t generate results, call your council member. Sad to say, but DC police are a paramilitary organization and will only respond to directions from their chain of command.

  • epric002

    what does the building’s management have to say/how have they been involved with this? i can’t believe they’d be ok with allowing someone who relieves herself in the hallways and threatens tenants to stay there…
    i’d follow up with whoever is in charge of your PSA. seems totally ridiculous for a Notice of Barring to only be enforceable by the officer who originally signed it.

  • Seems like this problem could be solved with a lock on the exterior door and a security guard for the first week or two. Both of these would be the responsibility of the landlord.

  • Isn’t she trespassing? She isn’t a resident (i.e. paying rent) so she has no rights to be IN the building so she should be arrested and charged. That may not be applicable to what goes on outside of course. In any case, building owners need push this is THEIR property and she is illegally using it. But they have to do it because they are the property owners and it is their right to say who belongs and who doesn’t not the tenants.

    • Tresspassing and destruction or defacing property (urinating in lobby). Who is the building manager? Who cleans the hallways? Your neighbors need some spine and strt saying no to her face, then give her a list of shelters.

  • What annonny and epric002 said — I don’t see how this couldn’t be trespassing. Contact the building management and the district commander.

  • You should call Adult Protective Services. It sounds like this woman needs an advocate.

    • I’d agree that this woman needs to have Social Services looking in on her, but frankly, in this situation it seems like the beleaguered tenants are the ones who need someone advocating for them. Right now the homeless woman is getting what she apparently wants (to sleep/urinate in hallways and threaten violence), and the tenants aren’t.
      Wasn’t there some past PoPville thread on a D.C. government mental health services team? Seems like that might be a good avenue for the OP to try.

  • Who’s your slumlord? I need to know so I avoid moving in here. This is a pretty ridiculous situation.
    Also, who is letting her in the building? Someone is doing it, so perhaps go door-to-door and ask people to stop letting her in.

  • The property manager or owner has to sign the barring notice. It’ll be easier to charge her with unlawful entry, but it a barring notice isn’t necessary. Just see if management can be there when this is going on, so that they can be the complainant. Just mention it in your neighborhood listerve and I’m sure you’ll get a response. How has this been going on so long? And maybe a MPD response isn’t the best way to find a solution for this woman.

  • Where are these places. This sounds like the worst apartment building ever. I think you have some really nice people in the building her being way to nice probably feeding her or treating like a human being. This is your first mistake. Treat them with contempt and verbable threats followed up with physical violence is the only solution. Cops in this area are lazy. You did everything right and you still get “literally” pissed on. Try going the bad way about the situation. You will be better off and rewarded for your callous behavior. Sad but true.

  • This is DC. There’s probably 900 lawyers in your building. Make some flyers about it and put them under every door. Get some of the lawyers to threaten the landlord/building owner with a lawsuit. Problem solved.

  • Just the other night I encountered a woman sleeping in the lobby of my Columbia Heights building. After seeing this post, I contacted the Legal Clinic at Bread for the City to see if they could assist.

  • The officers lied to you and obviously didn’t want to deal with her at the time!!! What you can do in the meantime is document each time she comes back, bring the documentation and the notice to a police station and ask if a warrant could be issued for Unlawful Entry!!! I have it done all the time Downtown!!!

  • In the past when our door has had “issues” and it was cold outside, I would occasionally find people sitting in the halls that I did not know (small building). Thankfully they always responded politely when I said “Dude, I’m sorry, but you’ve gotta go”. No crazies. When a non-tenant set up a flea market on our front lawn without permission or a permit, the cops responded quickly and effectively. I am really sad and scared to see that in this case, with someone inside the building posing a threat they failed to act. Definitely involve your ANC commissioner ASAP.

  • I recommend you take a multi-pronged approach and you’ve got to be very persistent. My office building had an issue with a person (in various states of non-sobriety) who routinely stretched out to sleep right in front of the door at all hours of the work day, with attendant trash, expectorating and urination. We repeatedly told him he couldn’t be there, and sometimes he would leave and sometimes he wouldn’t. Finally we just called (or threatened to call) the police each and every time he was there and eventually he chose to take up residence in a nearby bus shelter instead.

    I would recommend contacting, in this order: 1) Your landlord, and get *in writing* at least an acknowledgement of the issue and that this woman has no right to be in the entryway of the building. 2) The local police commander, which for Columbia Heights is Jacob Kishter of the Third District MPD: http://mpdc.dc.gov/page/welcome-third-district When you email him, cc both your landlord and your council member Jim Graham. 3) Council Member Jim Graham or staff.

    In each instance, detail the issue, the length it has been going on, what you’ve done to deal with it and how the police and homeless shelters have failed to help. Let each person know, in order, that you’ll move up the ladder to the next if you don’t get some adequate response to the problem.

    So much for city government. Moving on to the building itself, you’re going to have to be proactive and communicative will *all* your neighbors. You’re going to have to be “that person”, and tell everyone, either face-to-face or with community postings (does your building have a listserv or tenants association?) and make it clear that this person is not a resident, causes damage to the building and should not be let in to the foyer area.

    No one thing is going to work, it is the combined campaign that will eventually make a difference. You will have to be persistent and it will be irritating, but it doesn’t seem like the situation is going to get any better on its own. I sympathize!

  • Contact N Street Village, downtown, a shleter for women. If they cannot help her, they may have other ideas.
    Here is their website http://www.nstreetvillage.org/

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