Mayor Gray – Address issues of Group Home moving into Ward 4

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Topic: Mayor Gray – Address issues of Group Home moving into Ward 4

Public Safety February 21, 2014 at 6:06 pm

Mayor Gray – Address issues of Group Home moving into Ward 4

Dear Mayor Gray:

We are writing to relay our concerns regarding a group home proposed by the business Life Deeds at 1345 Taylor Street NW, directly behind Powell Elementary School, on a block with known drug-dealing, and within blocks of several existing social services facilities.

Other social service organizations on Taylor Street NW are good neighbors, but the management of this particular program by Life Deeds concerns us. The Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services (DYRS) provided no official public notice before it awarded the contract for this home, and our repeated attempts for communication with Life Deeds and DYRS have produced little clarity or information since.

According to the testimony of DYRS Director Neil Stanley at a hearing of the DC Human Services Committee yesterday (2/21/2014), we understand that decisions about whether to award contracts to group homes — including this one — do NOT consider the impact of their location on a community, because DYRS believes it is at the “mercy of the market.” The market has no mercy. As long as DYRS continues to locate group homes with complete disregard for their impact on residents, the same populations of the city will continue to shoulder the added burden they pose on public safety, and there will be no mechanism to ensure that thriving elementary schools like Powell — 98% of whose students are people of color — are protected.

As parents, DC voters, and neighbors of Powell Elementary School, we deserve to know why this site was selected, how such a facility will be used, what precautions are being taken to ensure that the facility is safe, and what recourse is available should the facility ultimately pose a danger to us and our children.

Based on the proximity of the group home to Powell Elementary, the saturation of existing social services in the neighborhood, the known drug activity on the block and in the area, and the lack of official public notice pre-award, we ask that your administration reconsider the location.

We will take this case to the media, and intend to make the selection of group home and jail diversion facility sites in the District an election issue.

We will not rest until we have ensured the safety of our neighborhood, our children, and the children and parents of Powell Elementary School. We urge you in the strongest terms possible to use the full force of your office to advocate for the safety and interest of District families.

1 Replies Add Reply

Hi OP,

I noticed that this is from a year ago, but has there been any headway made?

We live on Varnum and we have THREE group homes for adults with mental illnesses and/or substance addiction issues.

The “consumers”, as they are called by Life Stride, are free to leave the home at any time between curfew hours.

A couple of the residents are ok and do not create any issues for the community, but there are a few that do.

One in particular decides to spend his mornings, as soon as curfew is over, walking up and down Varnum screaming at himself, talking to himself, screaming at neighborhood residents (including kids going to the bus stop) and harassing people. The aides inside the home do nothing to stop him and in fact encourage us to call 911 on them.

Their smoke alarm goes off all the time because they smoke indoors; ambulances, fire trucks and police are here at least weekly because of something going on in the house; and the consumers have easy access to tobacco, alcohol and drugs because of the neighborhood and the fact that there are two places that sell alcohol and tobacco just around the corner on Uphsur.

Would love to hear what kind of feedback you’ve received and to hear about any progress that has been made in your situation.

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