Update: “There was an eviction which occurred, however the evicted was someone who was deceased.”


Update from The Delano Apartments:

“We wanted to clear up confusion since the article “I don’t know what kind of person takes the belongings of a recently homeless elderly woman in front of her while she cries” which was posted on 9/2/16 at 12:45pm is almost entirely fabricated, and we wanted to explain what actually happened.

There was an eviction which occurred, however the evicted was someone who was deceased. This person did not have any family, next of kin, will, or anyone with power of attorney. This was a very sad and unfortunate situation, and after attempts to contact anyone who could possibly hold power of attorney failed, unfortunately eviction is the only option. During an eviction, federal marshals oversee the whole process and require everything in the home be placed on the sidewalk.

It is extremely disappointing that the writer fabricated the events in this blog post, adding confusion and controversy to what was already a very sad event.

Thank you,
The Delano Apartments
2745 29th Street, NW”

“Dear PoPville,

An elderly African-American woman was evicted from her apartment on 29th St NW between Woodley Park and Calvert St on Monday afternoon. Her belongings were placed on the street in front of her building after the eviction.

I’ve always been taught that an evicted individual still owns their belongings, even if the sheriff has placed them on the street. Only after a reasonable period of time – maybe a day or so – can the public assume that the belongings have been abandoned.

So I was pretty horrified to come home from work on Monday to see that crowds of young professionals were sorting through the woman’s belonging’s and taking them very soon after the eviction. The woman was still standing on the street, and later near the door of her building, sobbing audibly for everyone to hear as they made off with her life. I saw some people from her own building walk right past her and through the doors with her furniture, not even making eye contact with her.

I don’t know what kind of person takes the belongings of a recently homeless elderly woman in front of her while she cries. It was pretty heartless. I know that if you leave and come back a day later, there is a chance that the dining room chair set you had your eye on may have been carried off by someone else, but maybe that’s worth not having to live with yourself knowing that you did such a rotten thing.

The age/racial differences between the victim and the perpetrators also highlights the really ugly effects of gentrification in this city – the young urban class calmly pilfering the belongings of an older African-American who has just lost her home.

Anyway, it really bothered me, and it’s been eating at me all afternoon. I just wanted to share my frustration.”

116 Comment

  • skj84

    My goodness what a heartbreaking read. That poor woman.

    • I question the accuracy of this report, to be honest. I live in this building, with a front-facing window, and witnessed none of this behavior. The belongings were unattended and, while I witnessed a few passers-by stopping for a look and shuffling through some of the belongings, the reports of people carrying large pieces of furniture into the building are absurd.

      • No one should have been shuffling through anything. The fact that they were shuffling means they were looking to take something.

        • Unattended furniture by the side of the road basically screams, “take me! I’m free!”

          I know I personally had to shuffle through things because they were physically touching my vehicle or surrounding it in such a way I could not access it.

          • Nah not to me. A bunch of stuff on the curb outside of an apt building = eviction

          • yes, it does scream that, but it’s Bad Karma to take the belongings
            of the evicted. It’s bad luck to take the belongings of a dead sailor
            at sea, and it’s Bad Karma to participate in the looting of the homeless.

        • While I 100% agree with this, I do wonder if some people just didn’t realize that they were someone’s. Often in this city when people move, etc. they just put things out in front during the day for people to take and it is possible people have grown to expect this and not think of an eviction (I mean, how often does one stumble upon one?). Unless the lady was right there to speak with people I could see how one might be confused. Now if she did say something and people STILL took it I’d be FURIOUS.

          • So I mentioned this below in response to the gentrification dig

            “While I 100% agree with this, I do wonder if some people just didn’t realize that they were someone’s. Often in this city when people move, etc. they just put things out in front during the day for people to take and it is possible people have grown to expect this and not think of an eviction (I mean, how often does one stumble upon one?).”

      • I live next door at 2727 and was teleworking on Monday when this happened. I definitely witnessed numerous people rummaging through the items on the sidewalk.

        • But the big question is — did anyone try to stop them? If no one informed them then I think the people who said nothing were just as much at fault (if not moreso) than the people who took things.

          • I agree here…i’m looking through other comments and not seeing anyone address the absurdity that while it is appalling for folks to rummage through things, it’s even more appalling that no one said anything. Specifically, the OP who said they noticed people walking into the building with the persons things.

  • I live in this building and, while I didn’t witness any of the behavior you mentioned, it’s distressing to say the least if people were taking her belongings while she was there. By the time I returned home from work in the evening, I saw unattended belongings on the sidewalk and in the street, occupying the entire width of the building. No note, no communication from building management, etc. I did see some people picking through the belongings, but it did not strike me as unusual, as they looked to be abandoned. This is from the POV of someone who’s lived in DC for several years but yet to witness an eviction, so I’m not aware of the social norms around them.

  • This is just morally wrong on so many levels. I can’t believe these individuals have any soul left. I hope this elderly lady finds some much needed help.

    • I so agree with you. Simply Heartless!! I am a licensed Social Working assigned to Clients’ in Ward 8. I believe this lady could have been helped by Iona Senior Services. The agency could have at least secure her belongings. Society has almost lost All its morals and Compassion, or, maybe it depends on the actual Victim.

  • This is very sad. I was thinking of Gene Weingarten’s heartwarming article about a case in his neighborhood where someone had been evicted and the neighbors rallied together to save the evicted neighbor’s belongings from scavengers:

    • Yeah, his neighbors could afford a U-Haul and rental unit though. Not typical.

      • That’s true… but in that case, even before the guys showed up with the U-Haul, individual neighbors were trying to save items. And they called the police:
        “And then something amazing happened. A D.C. police car showed up. Someone had called them and told them that the owner of the property wanted it saved.”

    • SouthwestDC

      I live around the corner from where this happened, and when I saw the stuff on the curb I though “Oh, someone’s doing spring cleaning again.” People in wealthy neighborhoods like Capitol Hill get rid of so many nice things all the time that if you see something out there unattended it’s not out of line to assume it’s free for the taking. One time I left a packed suitcase outside of my house curb for 30 seconds, while I ran back in for something, and a guy had started to wheel it away. He looked really sheepish when he realized his mistake! People (or concerned friends) who get evicted should put up signs explaining the situation– it may not deter the truly heartless but it will keep people from accidentally taking stuff they though was being given away for free.

      • He looked sheepish when he realized his mistake? Um, no. He was about to steal your luggage – period. Only a moron would truly believe a full piece of luggage in front of someone’s home was there for the taking. Especially if you had just turned away from it 30 seconds before he put his hands on it.

        • News to me…when I moved out of my place on Capitol Hill, I got rid of some suitcases (among other things) I no longer needed. To do so, I left them on the curb. Yes, I put a “free” sign on them, but I also, to this day, have a wine rack and cabinet in my house that I picked up from the curb in the same neighborhood that did not have “free” signs on them, but were obviously giveaways. If I saw a suitcase on the curb, and I needed one, I might think it was a giveaway.
          The cabinet, in particular, illustrates how this “market” works. I was driving by with a friend, saw it, told her to get out and stand next to it until I could unload a few things from my car to make space to haul it, and when I got back, she said she had chased off 3 people attempting to pick it up in just about 15 minutes. A few more people rolled by eyeing it while we were loading it.
          That’s just what people do in that particular neighborhood. If you have something to give away that has useful life in it, you leave it on the curb. Competition for the good stuff left on the curb is fierce.

  • What makes people believe that they can sort through someones belongings like that period. Its quite obvious that someone was put out and that the belongings belong to someone. What makes a person think that they can grab as they please?

  • You had me until the gentrification bit. Horrible story, but I don’t think this is representative of even a minorty of young, white gentrifiers in the city.

    • Agreed

      Could we please stop the race-baiting and gentrification bashing for just a minute ? What makes you think that would have been different in another setting ?
      Would it have been better and more acceptable if the old woman was white and the people “pilfering” her belongings weren’t ? Let me go on a limb as well, maybe the old lady told them to pick up what they wanted ? Somebody posted that this was NOT what could be witnessed so I kind of question OP’s understanding of the events here

      • skj84

        Maybe don’t get all knee jerky when race is brought up and think about other peoples perspective? Cause there are some very real issues with gentrification and race. Just because you believe you aren’t part of the problem doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Or because it hurts your precious feelings discussing race means we shouldn’t talk about it. This may or may not be a case of new residents being clueless. But to act like gentrification doesn’t bring some problems is naive.

        • Dude, because the race of the evicted person makes a difference here ? Should it ?
          Kindly point me to where I wrote that gentrification was the best thing to ever happened to the world since sliced bread. My point, that you obviously missed, is that assuming Woodley Park is gentrifying is rather silly, don’t you think ?
          And my feelings are precious, my friend, they’re even fabulous, so leave them alone. K ? thanks

          • “White Fragility is a state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress be- comes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves. These moves include the outward display of emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and behaviors such as argumentation, silence, and leaving the stress-inducing situation.”

          • haha damn if i do, damn if i don’t !!

          • skj84

            Not a dude, but whatever. Your fragility is showing. I’ll keep hitting at your feelings until you get it. I feel bad for people like you. So ingrained in privilege. Get woke.

          • “get woke” used nonironically on PoPville. lol.

    • +1 Guillermo Brown

    • Yeah… Isn’t that the exact *opposite* of gentrification?? Everyone loves a buzzword!

    • Let’s make the assumption that we’re talking about how people might not have ever been near an eviction before, and they assumed this was a “free stuff on the curb” situation. It seems fair to guess that if they’ve never seen an eviction before that’s likely because they grew up in/previously lived in nicer neighborhoods where evictions are rare.

      Thus if the problem is you have relatively well off people not knowing how to interact in a positive manner with folks that are less well off in the neighborhood they recently (relatively) moved into, then that’s kind of textbook gentrification shit right there.

      Just because this is a side-effect of gentrification doesn’t mean that the folks taking the items were doing so maliciously, or that it was race related, or any of the other common pitfalls of asshole gentrifiers.

      • I agree with you to a point, except that this isn’t a less nice neighborhood. This is smack dab in a very nice area between Woodley Park and the Cathedral. So yes, they may be unfamiliar with evictions, but they certainly aren’t gentrifying that area.

  • That’s basically theft. If I leave my bike on the sidewalk while I’m standing nearby, and someone takes it, it means they’ve stolen it. Same goes here.

  • This is terrible. Did you find out what happened to her after all of this?

  • Ugh, this really bothers me. A neighbor of mine was recently evicted, and all the other neighbors came together to gather his things for him to retrieve from them at his convenience.

  • holy lord, that just makes me sick to my stomach. I am tearing up just reading this, I can’t imagine how gut-wrenching it would be to witness – or worse, to be that poor old lady.

  • SilverSpringGal

    This horrifies me. Especially because it was people in her own building. How can they not stare at their new furniture everyday with some bit of remorse/guilt? Cruel.

  • I wouldn’t be at all surprised if some of these folks didn’t understand that what they were taking was the product of an eviction. I’m guessing that many of them are privileged and new to urban living, and they may have never seen one before.

    Or they’re cold-blooded, sociopathic capitalist apex predators. I’m going to hope it’s the former.

    • “I wouldn’t be at all surprised if some of these folks didn’t understand that what they were taking was the product of an eviction.”
      I was wondering about this too — during peak moving times, random items sometimes appear in front of the group houses in my neighborhood after a tenant moves out. (Which can be a problem if nobody actually wants the discards.) Perhaps the scavengers thought that was the case here?

      • +1. I just mentioned this above before reading the whole thread of comments. While it certainly is a terrible situation, I could see how many people might just have been oblivious or not have realized and may have had no bad intentions.

      • Did you miss the part about how she was supposedly standing there CRYING while this was supposedly happening? I don’t believe this story in the way that it was told.

    • I don’t buy the idea that the people didn’t know what they were taking. An eviction is *really* obvious. This isn’t just a few pieces of furniture and some boxes on the street, it’s EVERYTHING that was inside someone’s home–loose papers, a hamper full of dirty clothes, the contents of a junk drawer, unopened mail. I live next to a spot where people are constantly leaving bunches of random items. An eviction looks entirely different.

      • Here’s my hang-up though. A lot of people are not very bright. But being… stupid, for lack of a better word… doesn’t necessarily mean you’re being intentionally malicious. It just means you’re stupid. Is that an excuse for poor behavior? Not really. But it does draw a distinction between “a bunch of rich people intentionally stole some poor lady’s stuff” and “a bunch of really oblivious and stupid people took something and neither OP nor elderly lady stopped them.”

        • (Also I should clarify that I’m not calling everyone stupid — if you haven’t seen an eviction before than I wouldn’t expect you to know. If you have and didn’t make the connection though, that might be a little dumb.)

          • HaileUnlikely

            I agree with this. I doubt that anywhere near as many as one in ten DC residents who live west of Rock Creek Park have ever seen an eviction first-hand.

      • MMMMMM… I disagree. If you are being evicted you likely don’t have lots of extra furniture and nice things lying around and your life and house are probably a mess. That is not to blame this poor old lady for her situation. There could be a million good reasons why she can’t pay the bills and I wouldn’t even judge her if her reasons were bad. All I’m trying to say is that if you are getting evicted then there is a very good chance that your life isn’t organized, your things aren’t nice, and if it was all dumped carelessly on the street (by an angry landlord who has been fighting you for months) it could very easily look like a pile of trash. I grew up around many many evictions. An eviction ALWAYS looks like a pile of trash unless it is a big family getting evicted and then the only difference would be the amount of furniture.. Just because it looks like a pile of trash on the street, though, doesn’t mean that somebody isn’t going to miss it.

    • That’s exactly what was going on. I walked by it that AM on way to Oyster with my kids and I saw other parents I know looking puzzled about, thinking it was abandoned or someone had died. I said no, this looked like an eviction.

  • What? You stood there and watched people rob an old woman of her possessions as she begged them not to? The robbers are the most awful people in this situation – that goes without saying. But if you stood there and did nothing as this unfolded as described, I’m appalled by that as well.

    • It doesn’t say the woman was begging them not to, just that she was crying. I think it’s definitely possible that people didn’t put two and two together. I also think maybe she told people to take things, considering she no longer has a place to live and all of this “stuff” would be a burden, though it’s still very painful to see them go. The compassionate thing for OP to do would be to go to the woman and ask her if she’s ok, if there’s anything he/she can do, or if there’s an item or two that’s important to her that maybe OP can hold onto until she has a place to put it. They were neighbors until that day. Just walking by and judging everyone in this situation without having a full understanding of the story isn’t ok.

      • The post says the woman was “sobbing audibly for everyone to hear as they made off with her life.” I don’t know how this can be interpreted as anything other than the victim being physically there and indicating that she did not want her possessions to be taken. If this actually happened (now I see other people who live in this building are emerging with a different story) then I remain appalled first by the people taking a sobbing woman’s possessions as she sobbed in front of them, and second at the OP for doing nothing.

        • Ummm, someone crying and a bunch of stuff on a lawn doesn’t necessarily mean the two things are related. It’s not like she was telling them “please don’t take my things.” It’s also possible she was planning on abandoning these things regardless. It’s still painful, but she wasn’t trying to stop anyone from taking things. Again, I think someone should have gone up to her and asked if she was ok.

        • “I don’t know how this can be interpreted as anything other than the victim being physically there and indicating that she did not want her possessions to be taken.”
          Don’t *interpret* it! Just read the words!

          • I will try one more time, because I see you are struggling here. If you see an old woman “sobbing audibly for everyone to hear as they made off with her life” and you do nothing, then I am appalled by you.

          • How dare you! I wasn’t there and that is most certainly not what I would have done. Again you are inserting your own imagined scenes to augment what was *actually* written. You are the one struggling, with reading comprehension.

          • I never said the right thing to do would be to do nothing, but you’re assigning malice to people who may have none. For all we know, they were told by the woman to take the stuff.

          • I am literally directly quoting the OP

          • E. You are “interpreting” OPs words by ASSUMING that, as you say, “the victim being physically there and indicating that she did not want her possessions to be taken.” Except OP never said that the woman was there asking people to stop taking her stuff. You never quoted that part because it doesn’t exist. Anonymous simply suggested that you are making an ~interpretation~ (assumption) of something that we have zero proof of…. You seem to be the one struggling here with understanding what the words you’re using mean here….

    • +1. If the OP knew what was going on and did not vocalize this to the people rooting through her belongings, I blame the OP more than the people looking through her stuff. Also, as stated, maybe the woman told them it was ok. Not enough information here in this “story”.

  • Sorry, but there has to be some piece of the puzzle missing here. There is no way in hell a bunch of young wealthy professionals would knowingly steal the possessions of a recently evicted person, especially if that person was nearby and crying and objecting. Just no way. Were they instructed that the possessions were fair game and unaware that they belonged to the crying lady? Something’s missing.

    Also, the gentrification thing was a needless cheap shot.

  • embellished story. nice try.

  • My guess is that the gentrification tidbit was to note that maybe these individuals did not recognize these belongings as being part of an eviction but rather a willful disposal of goods no longer wanted or needed as sometimes people may toss out old furniture as give aways on the street.

    Someone who has seen several evictions would have recognized the situation right away and out of respect would not have messed with the belongings.

    • Gentrifiers are not necessarily clueless and sheltered. I grew up in a wealthy suburb where evictions were basically unheard of, but just through existing in this country for the last 35 years I know what an eviction looks like.

      • I am not the OP and I wouldn’t have used the gentrifier term or the millenial term or any term personally. I would have just said individuals as I am not a fan of lumping people in a box. I am only speculating the motive behind using that term

      • I’m someone who lived a very sheltered life and had never seen an eviction before moving to DC. I didn’t know people’s belongings were simply dumped onto the sidewalk. Having seen people leave items they no longer wanted on the street, I quite innocently initially thought these large piles were free for the taking (although I didn’t participate). The sobbing merited investigation, of course, but I can believe some people shuffling through what may have appeared to be abandoned items may not have known they were the result of an eviction.

        • That’s ridiculous. If you look at a ratty armchair, some mismatched dishes, and a bunch of Dean Koontz paperbacks, and then look at *everything a person owns* and think they’re the same thing, “sheltered” is not the word for you.
          There’s no way to mistake an eviction for anything but someone’s life turned inside out.

          • I witnessed this and my first thought was that a tenant died and their belongings were dumped. I’ve never witnessed an eviction and wouldn’t have expected one in a relatively affluent area.

          • I think when people die the stuff goes into the building’s garbage room if family doesn’t take care of it, move it, donate. Evictions are different – the stuff goes onto the street, because the building doesn’t own it and can’t put it in the garbage – it goes on the street because it is still owned by the tenant, and the tenant can then move it if they can. Clearing a place because someone died, or someone left stuff, behind, looks nothing like an eviction. It doesn’t take large brain to see that.
            When my building wants to dispose of stuff, they aren’t legally allowed to set it out by the curb. If there is stuff left in the garbage room by people moving or cleaning out, or in apartments by tenants who leave, the building has to dispose of it legally as they do other garbage. A large building (or you individually) can’t legally just leave your stuff on the street in front of your apartment building and hope it will disappear. You can do this with some stuff in a single family home where the city picks up your garbage from the curb. But a large building doesn’t have city provided garbage service, and must pay for commercial garbage removal, and cannot legally leave stuff that is theirs to remove on the street.

          • +1 to wdc. I grew up very sheltered (though not rich) and the first time I saw the results of an eviction (10 years or so ago, walking through Foggy Bottom), I was shocked. I knew exactly what had happened, though, and I’d have never, ever helped myself to anything. Jesus. That’s a special kind of . . . well, something. I don’t even know.

  • So why didn’t you say something? Sounds like you stood and watched as people took furniture into buildings(something like that usually doesn’t take a matter of seconds).

  • I appreciate the attempt at a sob story, but – did the OP here stop and ask her why she was crying? Did they ask anyone if they had spoken to her? Did they ask the woman about her stuff being stolen? I have a very hard time believing that people just saw a woman standing crying and thought “ooo free stuff!” One would believe a good samaritan would help the lady or call police or ask the woman if she had called 911. Having left stuff out on the street with a “free” sign in that very neighborhood, people would still stop and ask my while I was sitting on my steps “is it cool to take this?” The default reaction and assumption doesn’t always need to be “GENTRIFICATION.”

    I haven’t been in the city 20+ years like others but I have a hard time believing that gentrification is to blame on 29th St in Woodley Park of all places.

  • I heard a story that someone was evicted from my building last summer. There were luxury items EVERYWHERE. Designer clothes/shoes, Big screen tvs etc. They were gone before I even saw them. A neighbor of mine said they didn’t last an hour. I couldn’t imagine taking another persons belongings even if there was no one there to see me. But- ppl seem to take items that are left unattended so, If they didnt know that the items were hers, I dont believe they thought they were doing something wrong. Still sad.

  • This story doesn’t add up and feels like the OP has a racially charged agenda here. If it is true to some extent I am extremely sorry to any elderly woman (regardless of race) but tone and description just seem fishy to me

  • Your true frustration seems to be “gentrification.” Please move to the suburbs if you don’t like “it.”

  • I don’t understand the use of gentrifiers at all here. What is being gentrified in Cleveland Park? Your definition of gentrification in this case is anyone who is white that lives in DC because Cleveland Park has always been a predominantly white neighborhood. Why didn’t you take the time to throw NIMBY, Hipster and Craft anything in there as well to hit all the buzzwords?

  • I’m honestly surprised building management didn’t help or at least try to move her items to a different location. I lived at the Cleveland House (2727) for a number of years and I know either maintenance or the front desk concierge would have helped out in some way. I’m also surprised no one called DC Adult Protective Services. They would be able to help put this woman in touch with some transitional housing or at least a volunteer to help deescalate the situation. I know I say this a lot on here, but the city has a number of resources for homeless. Shelter Hotline: 1-800-535-7252, 202-399-7093

    • +1 I’ve lived next door to the Delano for 10 years and have a hard time believing this story as told. Overall, the WP neighborhood is friendly and people often get to know their neighbors, at the very least, in passing. I can’t imagine that no one would have offered to help the evicted woman. If things went down as OP described, then OP is culpable in my opinion. If the OP saw this happening, then why not speak up, help the woman, and call APS and the police? Shameful.

      When I drove by the scene that evening after work, I assumed it was either an eviction (even though I have never witnessed one before) or a decedent’s unclaimed property awaiting donation pick-up. It did not look like Spring cleaning or down-sizing. There was a lot of antique-looking furniture, and even from a distance, it looked like the contents of someone’s home. I was surprised when I left for work the next morning, and furniture was still on the curb, as I assumed it would have been hauled away by the owner of a donation center.

      Finally, this has zero to do with gentrification in WP. That’s a laughable statement.

  • I’m having trouble believing this, I really am – and I haven’t read the comments yet as I”m writing this, so possibly I will get told off, but I don’t care. This story does NOT ring true. And if I had witnessed something so awful I would have taken pictures, then cussed out everyone robbing her stuff. I wouldn’t have gone home to send an email to a website with no proof. That last line about young white people robbing an elderly black woman in broad daylight is ringing very, very false.

  • skj84

    I can totally believe this story happened. That this poor woman was evicted and left on the street. Its totally believable. Did the people who took her stuff realize that it was an eviction? Maybe or maybe not. My rule of thumb is if its not yours don’t touch it. Unless there is a sign that says “free to a good home” Don’t take it.

  • It isn’t gentrification. The three buildings on 29th St. are all large buildings, so are covered by DC rent control. The rents rise by an amount set by law. No one is able to remove some one because they want higher rents. Evictions are not always about gentrification. I’ve been in one of the those buildings, and believe me they have long been middle class. Rents on advertised apartments are market rate rents.
    That said, evictions are sad and cruel. It means someone was not able to find a new place to move to and move their stuff to before it was put out on the street. I’d call that a serious life crisis.
    I have not lived a sheltered life, and have always lived in big cities. But I have never seen an eviction with stuff thrown out on the street until I moved to DC. I used to see them fairly often in front of one building in a neighborhood adjacent building to this neighborhood. I recognized that they were right away. When people leave furniture and stuff to be thrown out by the management when they move, it is that, just stuff. An eviction looks like someone packed nothing to move, but someone just came in and moved your stuff out right now. It looks very different from someone who has moved. You dresser drawers still have you clothing in them. Your file cabinet drawers have your personal files. You electronic equipment is there, the artwork from your walls. Your kitchen stuff, the stuff in your closets. People don’t leave all this stuff when they move. And when they die, stuff is usually donated if no one wants it. It is pretty clear someone has been evicted, I don’t care how not bright you are, it is clear
    The woman evicted probably didn’t stop people from taking stuff because she had nowhere to move it to and no way to move it. It would be nice if we lived in communities where people seeing a neighbor in crisis would band together to help them. But people don’t, usually – it isn’t how most people live. Unless you know your neighbors as part of a community for years. And even then they often don’t help. In this sort of building, many people are passing through and don’t look to get to know their neighbors. And even if they do, they may not help them. People around there often have money (rents aren’t cheap), but the problem of finding housing is too great. They could band together, protect her stuff, rent a van, move the stuff to storage, and help find the woman help to find a home. But they don’t. Because the housing answers usually aren’t there. If she was evicted, she probably has no money, and you can’t find homes without money. Why do you think our homeless population is so large? We don’t value people having housing and being well.
    Which isn’t to say these neighbors weren’t horrible to take her stuff while it sat there. Basically the idea is that they wanted to get it before someone else did. That’s pure greed, and benefiting from someone’s crisis. I would not be able to take stuff from an eviction – it just feels SO wrong. Even after it sat there for a few days, I would not, ever. People suck, basically.

    • “The woman evicted probably didn’t stop people from taking stuff because she had nowhere to move it to and no way to move it.” This is exactly what I wanted to say. Its an awful awful thought, but those people taking her things aren’t going to do any more harm. There is no way that she can keep any of that stuff. If she had a place to take it or a place to go then her things would not be all over the street in the first place. Evictions don’t happen suddenly. She knew it was coming, but had no other options. I just hope that having no possessions will make it easier for her to get public services. You can’t bring your furniture to the shelter and an old lady sleeping on the street is worse than an old lady with no furniture.

      • Oooh, your’re cold. So, if your car is parked illegally, and gets a ticket with a “call for tow” written on it, and you aren’t there, then I can just take off with your car because, hey, you weren’t moving it, and besides, it was going to be towed anyway? Or, if you were standing there, but didn’t have your car key with you, then I could just wire it and drive away?

        Maybe she was calling people to come help her move her stuff, or hoping a neighbor would help her to collect and store some of it. Regardless of whether they saw her there or not, those taking her stuff should have known the owner could be nearby trying to deal with the situation. They did her harm by taking the stuff callously in front of her. And they did their own ugly spirits harm as well, whether they know it or not.

        Were some of you people on here raised by wolves?

        • Your analogy is off. I’ll fix it. If I can’t afford to put gas in my car, have nobody willing to buy it, and it will be a giant burden for me trying to find somewhere safe to sleep, then it is not that much of a loss if it is stolen.

          • Someone has never been homeless or in a financial position where they know they will likely never be able to re-purchase any of their possessions again……..

  • As usual, I’m surprised by the tone of many of the comments on here. What sort of person immediately writes that the story can’t possibly be true? There is NOTHING about his story to indicate that it wasn’t true, as other who wrote in who witnessed the aftermath of the eviction can attest. It a totally believable story. People get evicted all the time. And they can’t always retrieve their stuff – before it gets taken, or at all.
    What sort of people immediately assume that the people taking stuff must not have known that it was from an eviction? Even if some small number of people involved could be stupid enough to not understand what was going on, how could that possibly account for the majority of people, who cannot possibly have collectively been that stupid?
    If I ever didn’t think people are greedy and uncaring in general, reading the comments on this website remind me of that reality almost daily. Shame.

  • Prince of Petworth has become well known, especially in recent months, as the place to post if you are full of faux outrage over something stupid that really doesn’t matter. This, however, is an excellent example of the type of thing that people SHOULD post, because this deserves real outrage from us all. I am having a hard time thinking of anything more heartless and cruel than what happened to this poor woman.
    And yes, before anyone jumps in, of course I understand that nobody gets evicted without a reason and without any notice, and yes, I agree that to a certain extent, the person being evicted should take some steps on their own to try to arrange for their belongings before the eviction happens – even if it is just calling friends to ask them to help guard it temporarily.
    That all being said, I think there should be special circumstances, such as the evictions of elderly people, where we should make allowances for some extra measures. I get angry about a lot of the things DC government wastes my tax dollars on, but something like paying to move belongings to a storage unit instead of the street if the person being evicted is elderly or mentally disabled would be, in my opinion, an excellent use of some of the taxes I pay.
    I get that the property owner has a right, and often a need, to return a property to a profitable use, and that evictions must take place to make that possible if the current tenant can’t / won’t pay. But I’ve had too big of an extended family for too long to think that little old ladies should go through something like this. An extra couple hundred bucks for a moving truck and a storage unit for a couple months in a city budget of billions seems reasonable to me to help protect the most vulnerable among us.

    • The landlord has probably already spent in excess of $10k, plus endured a year or more of no rent, before they can actually perform an eviction (which they have to pay for). I don’t think they’re morally obligated to pay a few hundred or thousand more to maintain the sanctity of a person’s junk, even if that person is an old lady. If you need to keep your furniture or belongings, you have a year to plan for that or ask people to help. In all likelihood, this woman had no hope of keeping her stuff anyway, and I doubt people were “stealing” it insomuch as repurposing stuff that was going into the garbage anyway, likely with her express permission.

    • It shouldn’t be up to the building – there should be a social services system in place that the building calls to help, and that actually CAN help the woman to find housing, that the building management has to call instead of evicting someone. I bet some more enlightened countries have such systems. We could easily have one. We choose not to as a society. It is a choice.
      I am not elderly, nowhere near, but I am no longer young where people easily let others crash at their places. If I were evicted, I could not get a bunch of friends to watch my stuff on a weekday (they’d be at work), nor could I rely on any of them to let me stay with them, or help me pay to store my furniture, or let me store my stuff in their basement/garage/attic. People truly do not help out their friends after a certain time in their youth. They expect you to have made it, and if you have difficulties due to the economy or age discrimination (rampant after age 40), that’s your problem. It isn’t only the elderly who fall through the cracks in our system. That’s why there are so many homeless and desperate people out there.

  • I came to DC from a small town and saw something like that happening my first year here. Except nobody was with the stuff, it was just sitting on the sidewalk and I noticed someone looking around and then grabbing a small desk and taking off. So I stood there, guarding it and glaring or yelling at anyone who came near anything. I stayed there for a couple of hours and just as i was going to give up a truck drove up. A guy got out – he’d had to find a friend with a truck and was so distraught over the things that had already been taken. I’m sure he understood leaving it unguarded opened it up to that nonsense, but took the chance to get a truck to save as much as he could. I left them piling things into the truck as i really needed to get going by that time. I wish I had gotten there earlier to help save more of his stuff, but we do what we can.

    • Nancy, you rock! Yours is the best comment by far, and I read each and every one with tears in my eyes. This draconian system of eviction should be changed. It is adding shame and humiliation to a person, in this case, an elderly person, who is already in dire straits. I pray that this woman had somewhere to go and someone to help her. I can’t imagine what she must have gone through emotionally watching her lifetime of possessions having been dumped on the curb like trash and then being helpless to stop people from taking them. I’m guessing no one wanted her toiletries, her underwear, or her piles of unpaid bills. I hope that someone stopped to ask her if she needed help and at least gave her a hug. God bless her, please.

  • Woodley Park does not even remotely qualify for gentrification. It has always been white and wealthy. Gentrification should never even be mentioned with Woodley Park, ever.

    While I agree that it is deeply problematic taking this woman’s things after she was evicted, don’t drag the gentrification topic into a neighborhood that does not even qualify because of the fact it was always wealthy.

  • As upsetting as this is the word Woodley Park and gentrification should never go together. This has always been a wealthy white neighborhood. It does not even qualify for the moniker of gentrification under any context. Gentrification is the changing of a poorer neighborhood to a wealthier one. This one was always wealthy. So it does not qualify.

  • Not that anyone will read this because it’s so far down in the comments but I feel that the story should be told correctly. I live in the building where this happened and everything stated here is inaccurate. It’s pretty disheartening that this would even get posted before someone did any research on the events. This story is the speculation of a passerby and only that and should be taken as such. Yes, someone’s belongings were evicted from the building and people did take things. However, if anyone had bothered to ask, the elderly woman who’s things were left on the side of the street passed away back in May. She had no family or friends who would take her belongings and the building took the appropriate action of discarding them. They waited 3 months for someone to collect them and then they were legally allowed to empty her apartment. I don’t know who the woman crying on the street was or if she even existed but she was not the woman evicted from the building because no person was actually evicted, just the belongings.

    There is no story here, period. If you wish to pay your respects to the elderly woman who passed away, I think a prayer would be appropriate.

  • My assumption is always that stuff on the street was put there because it’s free for the taking. Most young professionals have no experience with evictions and it wouldn’t even occur to them that it was an eviction. If someone was crying near the stuff they would just assume that they had some issues.

    Evictions take a long time. As a property manager, I do not see people who stiff their landlords as victims. They are the bad guy. So many people are afraid to even rent out their homes in DC because there are so many deadbeats like this otherwise nice lady that the writer talks about. If you want to preserve affordable housing then support government programs that use tax dollars to do that. Don’t make it easier for renters to screw people.

    • Obviously the eviction talk is likely null and void for this particular situation but I strongly recommend you read this article and learn to have a little bit of compassion: http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/local/wp/2016/08/08/2016/08/08/as-the-nations-capital-booms-poor-tenants-face-eviction-over-as-little-as-25/
      While it’s obviously the tenant’s obligation to pay rent and the landlord’s obligation to collect it — it is business after all — it sickens me that you would call *all* poor individuals “deadbeats” because you don’t have a better understanding of what the actual situation and issues are regarding poverty, housing, and homelessness.

      • Don’t be sickened, just work on your reading comprehension. Contrary to your assertion, DCPM did not call all poor individuals deadbeats.

        You should be aware as well that not all deadbeats are poor; some people who do not pay their rent actually do have the means but choose not to pay for various reasons.

        • “there are so many deadbeats like this otherwise nice lady” implies that elderly folks who may be disabled or have medical conditions, etc. that have resulted in their inability to pay rent are also considered deadbeats to DCPM. It is literally what he wrote.
          And yes, I am aware that there are some people who just refuse to pay their bills, but from my experience, those people are very few and far between. Not being able to pay your rent is embarrassing and shameful to the majority of people who end up that way, and to think the majority of people who come up short with money for bills *want* to not pay them is just wrong.

        • Also if you’re the same E as up above, weren’t we all in agreement that you’re actually the one who needs to work on reading comprehension?

          • Not the same e, and if you’re using the word “implies” then it is not “literally” what he wrote.

          • You do you, other e. And I hope someday y’all are able to experience the slightest worry about how you’re going to pay for something so you can say “oh, now I get it.” I would never wish not being able to pay rent on anyone, even if I fundamentally disagree with everything they believe.

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