Trouble for the Tiny Houses of Stronghold


A reader shares from the Stronghold Listserv:

“Just wanted to provide you with an honest, sad update on the tiny house collective in the Stronghold alley. Over the past few years, tensions have risen as the owner of the widest house, and the lot has become increasingly aggressive toward us and the Stronghold neighborhood—repeatedly calling the cops on our neighbors with dogs, throwing a 2×6 in the alley to stop kids on scooters, criminally drilling into the streetlight and cutting the power to the lamp directly over the lot, reneging on our promises of a community garden, putting up “no trespassing” signs all along the property. Last month, Brian forcefully evicted Lee (the orange house) and then stalked her to her new location; this month, he has turned his rage on me.

He’s already cut power to the lot once and locked me inside, and as I’m writing this, he has taken the fence off behind my house (the black house) and threatened to have it towed away to parts unknown. So I’m writing for two reasons: first, because if I am pushed off the lot before getting a chance to say goodbye to some of you in person, I want to apologize for any grief this project has caused you, and to let you know that those of us who have left never wanted any part in the actions Brian has taken and will continue to take against you. I’m sorry.

The second reason I’m writing is to ask that if you happen to see a truck attempting to tow my house away, please call 911 immediately to report a theft in progress—Brian does not have legal permission to move the house. And if you see Brian behaving erratically or lurking around other streetlights along the stretch of alley, please don’t hesitate to report it to the authorities.

My sincerest apologies for anyone who has been negatively impacted by all this,

46 Comment

  • Huh? Maybe the writer should provide some background here, so us “normal-house” folk know wtf he/she is talking about?

    • -1 for rudeness…it’s only Monday, don’t be that guy…

    • Perhaps if you don’t know what this concerns (and are too lazy to google) and you don’t live there just move on? Not sure why you feel so entitled here.

      • Is this guy some special little snowflake with which everyone in the District is supposed to be on a first name basis?

        The narrative above was so unconnected, and made such little sense, it reminded me of a essay my 6 year old tried to write about candy and earthquakes.

        The guy is looking for some help from the larger community. If he wants it, he should explain himself. Otherwise, why would I care about his trailer park?

        • The message was posted to the Stronghold listserv, so perhaps most people on that listserv know the characters involved? Someone else then forwarded it to PoP, who reposted it here.
          It was not originally written for the PoP’ville audience consumption, so that’s probably why it doesn’t contain the context you desire. It’s not hard to connect those dots.

    • I’m with you, Dat. I didn’t understand a single thing Jay wrote about (the context, what the little houses are, etc.) Yes, I could google it and below I see that the piece was written for a specific audience in that neighborhood. But as it is, I couldn’t understand what all this is about.

  • what i don’t get is why that tract of land is so special. there are other unuused parcels, though the number is dwindling. why not just put their house there? stronghold isn’t that great a location.

  • I’ve read this story twice now and the link with the original story about the house and I still don’t get it.

    Who owns this lot?

  • Obvious questions: who owns the lot? If they’re squatting illegally, why should we care about this tempest in a teapot. If there are legal agreements, why is this here and not in a court?

    Concerns about cutting power to a streetlamp sound like an issue to be handled by PEPCO.

    Reality television provides no useful precedent for how to live one’s life. Let them handle it like grown-ups and reasonable members of society.

  • accendo

    The drama to background ratio on this one is highly skewed. Recommend balancing.

  • I’ve followed this story and the outcome makes me sad. Wonderful opportunity to change the look of housing lost…

  • toofwis

    If you look at (and read) the third picture in the orignal post, it starts to make sense. It looks like three people started this project (Brian, Lee, Jay). From the post above, it looks like Brian bought the land and had one of the houses on the lot. Drama drama, now Brian wants the other two to leave ‘his’ property.

    • Is there a question as to who owns the land? You say one person bought the land, but also try to give the impression that it does not belong to him…

  • Sounds like some trailer park drama.

  • “…to stop kids on scooters” Are these people racing around on loud illegal ATVs as reported on this site? Hardly “scooters.”

  • This post makes literally zero sense. I refuse to research further so here is what I gather.

    1. The guy who lives in the trailer house is a dick and is squatting in an illegal plot of land
    2. The people who live by the trailer house are also squatting (which is why he was able to evict them)
    3. The trailer house guy drilled out the light to the plot so he didnt have a light shining on his trailer
    4. Kids in the area should be arrested because they drive atvs but the OP thinks atvs are scooters

    Sounds like you all live in a shanty town; you are all criminals; and it explains why the police arent involved.

  • Hey guys,

    Jay (author of the above) here. Will try to make this short and sweet:

    (1) I agree this is strange and out of context on POPville. Not exactly sure why it’s on POPville. I had written it for a fairly small audience (our immediate neighbors on Stronghold’s NextDoor), and someone else chose to forward it along. Hence the lack of context.

    (2) To put it briefly, three of us decided to form a cooperative three years ago. Brian put the land in his name saying it’d be “easier that way,” and as friends, we trusted him. We then proceeded to pay two-thirds of the mortgage, and I’m currently protected by landlord-tenant rights, so I’m not squatting, but entitled to due process Brian isn’t following. Hence the urgent plea for vigilance to the neighbors.

    (3) Apologies if this sounded a tad dramatic. When you’ve built a home and must perpetually fear (as I am at this very second) that while you are out grocery shopping or working or getting dinner with friends that your house has been towed away to parts unknown (and irreparably damaged in the process), it’s rather unsettling.

    Again, sorry this got posted here and got some of y’all all riled up—wasn’t really my intention in writing the neighborhood bulletin.


    • FWIW, I don’t think you owe anyone an apology. This was taken from a listserv and posted with zero context. I appreciate some of the info coming from neighborhood lists, but it would’ve been helpful if this post had included a bit more background. I attended several events on the Stronghold site, and it was a unique and wonderful space. I’m really sad to see it go, particularly in this way.

    • If you want to make the world a better place, get on with it. Washington City Paper said you declared you were leaving in August — guessing you couldn’t find this good of a deal anywhere else. Everyone involved in this story looks petty and the mud slinging is silly. You had a falling out, it’s over, move on the best you can.

  • I couldn’t suppress a naughty LOL last night when I got to the part where the OP says, “The second reason I’m writing is to ask that if you happen to see a truck attempting to tow my house away, please call 911.”

    • +1 .
      Not laughing at this guy but I also chuckled had at “When you’ve built a home and must perpetually fear (as I am at this very second) that while you are out grocery shopping or working or getting dinner with friends that your house has been towed away to parts unknown”

  • The orange house in the photo looks amazing – nice work! But in the end it seems like they all needed a little more space.

  • Wow I just forwarded a WaPo article I read this morning to some friends.

    I presume this is the same Brian?

    If so I’m sorry things have come to this. I hope you all work things out.

  • These are essentially trailer park homes, trying hard not to be so un-hip. It’s like calling station wagons crossovers or CUVs. I think these tiny homes are really cool, but in an urban environment they would probably be best placed in a trailer park-like area, which is never gonna fly with DC’s new bourgeois residents.

  • From what I read in the Washington Post and know about DC codes, OP isn’t actually allowed to live or spend the night here, yet he refers to it multiple times as my home and seem to be out buying groceries presumably returning with them and pooping there (thanks city paper for that level of detail). So Jay – do you live there or not? If you do, and are trying to fly under the radar, you are an idiot for taking your cat fight to public forums.

  • I live in a tiny house… it’s called an apartment.

  • You know guys, there are two billion people actually have to live in these places. We call them slums. And I imagine any one of these less fortunate people would love to trade places with you. Heck, the City Paper article stated that you guys are government employees. Seriously? If that’s the case, hell, I wouldn’t mind switching places with you myself. Maybe I would actually appreciate my blessings and buy a real house for me and my family.

    • Good thing no one is asking you. But I’m sure the op appreciates your pointless and quite ignorant comments (read about what you comment on before sounding like a troll). Not everyone wants to live you like you, shocking I’m sure. If you confuse a tiny house with either a “trailer” or slum you need to keep your comments to yourself.

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