Eviction in Shaw Results in Massive Garbage Piles on Street


Ed. Note: On the Shaw Listserv ANC 6E02 Commissioner, Kevin L. Chapple, says: “DPW has already been notified and will be collecting the debris today.”

“Dear PoPville,

It looks like one of our neighbors on Marion St got evicted late last week, and all their belongings were put on the sidewalk. Initially I figured they had a trash pick up coming, but after the garbage bags were ransacked, the Friday night rainstorm and the wind today, the street looks like a warzone. Does anyone in PoPville have a good recommendation on who specifically to call?”


Another reader adds:

“Not sure if The District officials care at all. But this has been the scene outside on Marion Street NW (between Q & P streets). It’s an eye sore. On the way to work Friday morning (3/13), I noticed the a few men wearing US Marshall coats and several others that looked to be just labor workers.

The labor workers began moving things from maybe one or more units at 1544 Marion Street NW. By the time I came home from work (approximately 6pm), this was the scene and has been since.”


56 Comment

  • Just want to agree that this was very badly handled. In addition to the fact that this person’s belongings have been ransacked, they were also rain-soaked, then blown all over the street in yesterday’s heavy wind.

    • justinbc

      Considering how long it can take to actually get someone evicted in DC I have a feeling this person had plenty of advance warning that this was going to happen.

    • It’s unfortunate, but it takes a very long time to evict someone, so I’m not inclined to feel sorry for someone who gets evicted in dc. Pay your rent, and your stuff won’t get ransacked, rain soaked or blown away.

      • I don’t feel bad for the person who got evicted. I feel bad for everyone who lives nearby that gets punished for the behavior of one person.

        • I think you should have a little compassion for the person who was convicted. Yes, they could have been a deadbeat, but this person also could be suffering from mental illness, etc. I have a neighbor who lives right on the poverty line and is clearly mentally ill. I could see this happening at some point in the future. It’s important that you remember this is a fellow human being, not just some resident whose belongings are an inconvenience to you (That said, I think the city should be handling this in another way- store the stuff for a period of time, and then dump).

          • It takes 6-9 months to actually get evicted here. They had plenty of time to move their belongings. They clearly didn’t care, considering they then abandoned what was removed onto the street.

    • I’m not sure either of you would say this if you lived so close that you had to see this every day. Even if you have zero concern about the person who was evicted, you might be concerned about the huge amount of nasty, wet trash blowing up on in the yards of your neighbors and the people amassing on the block just to scavenge.

      • I agree that sucks for the neighbors. Who wouldn’t?

      • justinbc

        Yes it sucks for the neighbors, but what’s the alternative? Haul their stuff away to some dump where they have no chance of recovering it? It’s not like the city would pay for secure storage for someone in this scenario.

        • For one, schedule the eviction for a day when rain and wind aren’t in the immediate forecast.

          • They have a lot of restrictions, so I don’t think they need more or necessary evictions will never happen.

          • justinbc

            That’s easier to assess in hindsight, but you’ve seen how lousy weather predictions are in this area. These things are usually scheduled well in advance and difficult to reschedule for all the necessary parties.

          • They do consider for weather, no evictions if it’s 50% chance of precipitation or below 32 at all for the next 24 hours, if the writ of eviction expires the LL has to refile. The LL also has to pay the US Marshals $165 per hour and hire 10 laborers for the 1st bedroom plus 5 more for each additional up to 25 total. So it’s not like they can just move it to tomorrow very easily.

          • Mintwood, thanks for those details. Sounds like it’s a more complicated (and expensive) endeavor than I would’ve guessed.

        • Other than the expense, that is about the same as dumping it on the street. They’re not getting anything unless they’re right there when it happens as ppl will immediately pick through it.

          • justinbc

            Even if they are there it’s not like there are a lot of options for someone who now suddenly has a sidewalk full of stuff to take care of. If you’ve known for weeks / months that you’re stuff is likely going to be put on the street then it’s up to you to make arrangements, not the city.

          • I agree, but if the city ends up footing the bill regardless why not be pragmatic about it and get it before it’s a bigger mess.

          • I have a vague recollection of hearing (in a previous PoPville discussion of evictions) that people AREN’T supposed to pick through the stuff, and that’s part of the reason for the U.S. Marshals being there. Am I misremembering?

          • Yea, but the marshals leave eventually then it’s a free for all. Marshals serve the same function as a sheriff which is to keep the peace during the eviction and make sure things are done properly: owner not damaging or stealing properly, etc.

          • justinbc

            Yeah it sounds like from below that stuff had been left out for quite a while.

        • They had 6-9 months to move their stuff before they were evicted. If they couldn’t or chose not to at this point, it’s garbage. 24hrs and it should be thrown out.

    • Yeah, there’s got to be a better way to handle this. Why can’t the Marshals or DC government provide a truck to remove all the belongings? Take the stuff to Fort Totten Transfer Station or another location for the evicted individual to pick it up (and then dump it, if the individual does not pick up the items within 30 days). Seems like they just leave the mess for the neighbors to deal with it.

      • Evictions are horrible, and are always a terrible situation. However, I do not think it is fair to the city, to the owners, or anyone else to provide a truck in which to store belongings for free when a person has been essentially living for free anyway. It’s a terrible situation, it truly is. But people do get notice. The Marshals don’t just show up unannounced. I have the utmost sympathy, but believe that providing more temporary assistance for those in need to prevent evictions rather than creating additional expense for the city and/or landlord.

        • Personally, I think it’s way more compassionate to the individual and the neighbors to haul this stuff away (either to a dump or temporary storage). It’s a very marginal expense. At the end of the day, DPW still needs to send out a truck and paid manpower to pick up all the garbage.

          • Agreed. There could be a more compassionate method, but that compassionate method could also be used against the landlord if they were doing what they thought was the right thing. If the landlord were to move the items off-site, the tenant could accuse the movers or landlord of missing items or theft. While this might happen in the first place when they are put out on the curb, it will have been the tenant responsibility for leaving their belongings there and abandoning them, not the landlord. DC law calls for Landlord to hire 10 or more able-bodied movers to remove belongings and place them on the curb. This is already a financially draining ordeal for the landlord to pay for court costs, 10 movers, U.S. Marshall Fee, and likely months of past-due back rent that got that tenant there in the first place. Asking the landlord to pay to place belongings in storage seems like a onerous requirement for a tenant unable to pay to move those same belongings out of their own apartment. Keep in mind that not all landlords are big time corporations with loads of extra cash. There just is no easy solution for people unwilling or unable to vacate premises without leaving their items on the street for trash pickup.

    • Dc law’s apparent generosity not withstanding, you’d be surprised how quickly people can run out of money in this real estate market.I’m on a condo board and you’d be surprised how often financial issues come up. If you haven’t been out of a job for awhile, esp. away from where you have family or your closets friends, you have no idea what this experience is like. the kind of smug, technocratic approach to life that’s common here tends to fall apart when you have to deal with reality yourself. It’s like the old joke that a liberal is a conservative whose been mugged by reality (or, the variant, just been indicted).

      • I’ve been out of work for months at a time. I’ve also seen the process from the landlord’s side. Having to pay ridiculous bills because someone is allowed to live rent free for months. This was after the LL gave the person a month to get on her feet after she lived there for 1.5 yrs then lost her job.
        I would be surprised because it hasn’t happened to us in 5 yrs even after someone had a career ending illness unexpectedly or me with my injury.

      • You need to reverse “liberal” and “conservative” for that joke to make sense. Oh and I’ve been mugged twice (once in DC, once overseas) and I’m still a liberal…who sometimes wishes he was heavily armed.

        • It makes sense as-is. Countless conservatives are against something until the moment it affects them personally. Just look at Nancy Reagan and stem cell research, or Dick Cheney and gay marriage. With no capacity for empathy, you have no choice but to wait until something makes a difference in your own life before you can appreciate how the policies you espouse actually work in the real world.

        • You can be liberal and pro-gun, conservatives do not corner the market on self-defense.

  • Generally speaking, evictions are awful and the way they just toss stuff on to the street is a nightmare for the people are are not being evicted. We had an eviction at a place I used to live and it was awful – tons of people picking through the person’s stuff at all hours, creasing a mess, a possible security situation for the residents, and the building had to fit the bill for removal. Awful. There has to be a better way to handle this.

  • DCRA all the way. You can make that request online.

  • Thanks for posting the photos I sent in. It’s nice to know, it’s going to be taken care of. I’ll surely be looking forward to seeing the outcome this evening. I sent this in not to make a fuss. But I feel like since not many of the renters and homeowners are natives of the quadrant or area — we tend to usually take a “not my problem” approach to things that doesn’t directly have a direct effect on ourselves. Hopefully, we can continue to strengthen the sense of community in Shaw NW DC.

    Please excuse the typo in my initial quote:
    “I noticed (the a)* few men wearing US Marshall coats and several others that looked to be just labor workers.”

    – DJ

    • Curious if all neighbors pitched in to clean it up might also help strengthen community? Should you clean it up? No. Is it DC’s problem? Yes. But its my sidewalk and at the end of the day, I have to live with it.

  • Now THAT’S an eviction!

  • Isn’t this the second post about an eviction in about a week? There was one a few days ago about one in City Center. Can we please stop posting about these? Regardless of your feelings towards the person being evicted and how they should have paid their rent and how they had plenty of notice, etc, you have to accept the reality that this is probably one of the worst days of this person’s life, that often there are children involved for whom this is incredibly traumatic and who played no role in creating the situation, and it’s inappropriate to put it up on a blog so even more people get to gawk at someone else’s misfortune.

    • The citycenter one didn’t seem to have any real purpose, but this one is expressly an informational query: the OP wants to know whom to contact to get the mess cleaned up.

    • justinbc

      Should we also stop posting about house fires? Car crashes? Murders? Where is the line where you’re OK with hearing about something negative in the city?

      • I believe a CityCentre resident poster confirmed my observation that the CC pile was not an eviction but leftovers of quick departer. You can review. But if this one isn’t an eviction, I’ll eat my old bamboo furniture.

    • OP here, the one who commented about who to call. I don’t know this person and am not interested in displaying their misfortune. I AM concerned about a number of things, to include safety (ours and the evicted individual’s, as their open mail and personal documents are EVERYWHERE), health (the rotten meat has surely attracted additional vermin to the area) and security (word spread quickly and we have had a number of non-local individuals sifting through the bags – and sometimes yards now, as items continue to blow away). And to be fair to the US Marshals, most of the items were secured neatly in bags until Friday afternoon, when it became a free for all and people ripped the items apart. Add this to the fact that the city is doing work on the sewer this week, and our street is a nightmare. PoP said the city should be addressing the issue today, which I believe is all any of the Marion Streeters want.

      • “PoP said the city should be addressing the issue today, which I believe is all any of the Marion Streeters want.” +1

    • +1000

  • I don’t see how it’s legal for them to do this in the first place. Any other resident would be given a hefty fine for dumping this much crap on a public sidewalk. And the fact that it’s overseen by U.S. Marshals makes it worse.

    • It’s DC law to place the evicted persons belongings on the nearest curb or sidewalk off the property that they are being evicted from so they don’t have to trespass to retrieve said items after being evicted. It’s actually perfectly legal and called for specifically by DC law and most other state jurisdictions. Those items are not “dumped” until they are not picked up by the tenant and moved… but they also have no address since they were just evicted so good luck sending the fine.

  • Walked by it around noon – this has been cleaned up already by DPW. Phew!

  • I think this is really sad but you have to realize how hard the employment market is here. It’s hard to get a new job when you don’t presently have one. If the tenant can’t pay his rent, he can’t pay to move or to store his belongings somewhere. I think it’s better for the govt to just put their belongings in the trash than on the street because clearly there’s nothing to pick through. Since the tenant knew the day was coming, he probably already took the few things he was able to.

    • Too many restaurant jobs in this town. Lots of servers are able to pull in income at or above the median for the area.

  • Agreed that residents shouldn’t have garbage all over their sidewalks, mail, rotten meat, etc. It should have been hauled away immediately. The fact that people picked at it indicates the levels of poverty that people are looking for something in closed trash bags. The popville community seems very well informed, resourceful, and highly educated. 311 is a great resource for issues in DC. I would also start googling and calling around–“Hi. I’m a resident of xyz street who lives next to someone who was evicted and now there is trash all over the place. How do I get this taken care of?” Yes, you will get a lot “we don’t do that” but getting problems solved in a city with segmented departments often takes a lot of patience and time. Thank you to social media!

    • Poverty??? No ppl want free stuff. Anyone who’s seen an eviction knows they use whatever to haul away the property…in this case trash bag doesn’t mean trash. They’re taking anything of value. I only hope the occupant already removed things like passports, etc or they’re only going to have more problems when someone steals their identity.

      • Well I mean that comes down to poverty as well. I’m fairly affluent, so I wouldn’t be interested in trash bags belonging to an evicted person. I wouldn’t see it as free stuff, nor anything particularly worth my time, and I certainly wouldn’t want to be seen digging in trash bags on the street. To me, that also appears to be poverty and desperation.

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