Dear PoPville – Help Bring my Neighbor Ralph back to his Home in DC

by Prince Of Petworth December 4, 2013 at 11:00 am 35 Comments

“Dear PoPville,

I’ve been working on helping my elderly neighbor Ralph move home for about 3 years now. Having exhausted all options, I started a crowdfunding campaign. It’s a huge longshot and will take a modern day miracle, but I can’t just sit by and not try to help him. He has no family and the DC system has done nothing but throw up barriers.”


Bring Ralph Home:

“Meet Ralph. He is 80 years old, he’s a Navy veteran who served in the Korean war, he’s a widower, a homeowner and longtime resident of the District of Columbia. He never had children and has no remaining family. Until December 2010, he lived quite happily in his tiny, one room apartment in a small coop building in the Dupont Circle neighborhood.

In December 2010, Ralph became ill and was taken to the hospital, where he soon recovered. Rather than allowing him to return home, he was moved to a care facility where he has remained ever since. However, Ralph is healthy and has been cleared to return home. All Ralph wants is to go home. Unfortunately, Ralph has become tangled in the safety net and is now mired in a financial and legal mess. His story has become like a bad dream and he needs our help.”

Read more about the situation and make a donation to bring Ralph home here.

  • Anonymous

    Please have Ralph contact Legal Counsel for the Elderly at 202-434-2120.

    • Anonymous

      Legal Counsel for the Elderly provides free legal help to low-income seniors. Given the serious legal and financial issues, I strongly urge P.A. White to have Ralph call them to request their assistance.


    • sbc

      I definitely second this advice. A good lawyer (and LCE has them) could help Ralph negotiate a payment plan with his coop, if the coop board is willing.

      Also, I strongly suggest contacting the Aging and Disability Resource Center at (202) 724-5626. They are the point of contact for DC’s Money Follows the Person program, which helps people who are in nursing homes to return home (it is so much cheaper and nicer for folks to be at home than in nursing facilities!).

      • Anonymous

        Not to mention legal competency/guardianship, social security, housing, and other issues.

      • sbc

        here’s a website about Money Follows the Person


        note: this page comes from the Developmental Disabilities Administration, so it focuses on how MFP can be used for folks with intellectual disabilities. It can also be used in partnership with the Elderly/Physically Disabled Medicare waiver so perhaps Ralph would qualify through that.

        And if Legal Counsel for the Elderly can’t help, another good resource is University Legal Services,
        (202) 547-0198

  • Brent Yarger

    This is a great cause. Join Team Ralph, help bring him home, and spread the word! #BringRalphHome

  • Anonymous

    Made my contribution… I hope everyone chips in to help out Ralph

  • webdoyenne

    Try the DC Office of Veterans Affairs. Every state (to the best of my knowledge) has one of these offices, and they are quite efficient at cutting through horrible red tape.

    Also, there is a monthly pension benefit for veterans that Ralph would be eligible for (if he isn’t already receiving it). http://benefits.va.gov/pension/ Both my best friend and officemate have been successful at obtaining this benefit for their elderly fathers. (And both of them went through their state offices of veterans affairs to access it.)

  • Swann St.

    I just donated, please consider donating yourself. This is the generation that made DC great and we need to protect them and show our appreciation.

  • Anonymous

    You could contact Housing Counseling Services.

    But, I have a suspicion that the social workers have assessments that preclude independent living, based on the limitations in maintaining the unit before hospitalization.

    There are some great senior housing options in D.C. that are very nice, e.g. Victory Housing, My dad, a WWII vet, really enjoyed living in that type of community of folks, with support services.

  • Anonymous

    I contributed as well, it’s heartbreaking to hear these stories of our vets and seniors in situations like this. All the best to Ralph, I hope he makes it home!

  • Anonymous

    I also contributed! If everyone donates just a few dollars we can make this happen for Ralph.

  • Anonymous

    Who would I email or call to lend a hand and materials to the bathroom repair?

  • Dear Miss White:
    Thank you SO much for doing this and for caring about your neighbor.

    I’d like to help. I was elected last year to the Dupont Circle Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) and have good contacts with local groups who can help you fundraise.

    Please email me at [email protected] to discuss how we can help support your amazing efforts.
    Your neighbor, Kishan Putta

  • MsSunshine

    Can we also shame the condo association into backing down a bit on legal fees?

    • Anonymous

      I agree. Shame them on social media.

    • A

      The members of the condo association likely have a fiduciary duty to attempt to collect unpaid fees to the maximum extent possible. Therefore, shaming them is unlikely to be effective.

    • Anonymous

      Exactly what A said. Also it’s a coop not a condo (RIF), which may further affect what the association is legally obliged to do on behalf of its shareholders. Can we not demand shame for others based solely on our own limited personal understanding of things? If you want to get involved, please do so by helping, not hating.

    • textdoc

      I’m not sure “shaming” would be the best technique here, but perhaps appealing to their kindness? They do need the co-op fees to keep the place going, and it sounds like they’ve incurred legal fees… but maybe at the very least, they could could acknowledge the special circumstances and drop the $25/month late fee? That would be $900 off Ralph’s debt.

  • Anonymous

    Im confused why he was not “allowed” to come back home? even if his fees were unpaid/late, the coop can’t physically change the locks on him. I want to hear more details…

    • Anonymous

      Your confusion will be cleared up if you read the full writeup (see links in the post.)

      • Anonymous

        Unfortunately, the link doesn’t clear anything up. The text states the following: “Rather than allowing him to return home, he was moved to a care facility where he has remained ever since. However, Ralph is healthy and has been cleared to return home. All Ralph wants is to go home.”

        This does not, however, explain why he was not allowed to go home in the first place and why he was instead kept in a “care facility” for 3 years. How is it that he has now, 3 years later, been “cleared to return home”? Why was he not cleared initially? Was there a question of Ralph’s legal competency? These are all serious questions that need an answer.

        What’s needed is a clear and detailed explanation for why Ralph was not allowed home after his initial recovery. I sympathize strongly with Ralph’s plight and hope he is able, and well enough physically and mentally to go back home. However, we really don’t know what happened here.

        • textdoc

          Read further down on the linked page:
          How did this happen?
          Ralph is on social security and during the entire time he has been in the hospital and the care facility, the state has been collecting his benefits to pay for his care. Therefore, his coop fees have gone unpaid for three years. At $250/month plus a $25 late fee, his coop fees have accrued to approximately $10,000.
          In addition, the bathroom in Ralph’s apartment is in need of repair. On his very limited income, he was never able to have his shower and sink repaired. Now that he is a ward of the state, officials responsible for releasing him cannot do so until his home is safe for his return. Estimates to repair his bathroom are $4,000.
          Finally, the coop has filed legal paperwork to collect the considerable back fees. All legal fees accrued will also be added to Ralph’s debt. As of November 2013, the legal fees are approximately $6,000.
          TOTAL: $20,000

    • Anonymous

      It sounds like the social workers at the care home he’s in will not let him be discharged because of the state of his bathroom. They can’t let someone go home to an uninhabitable apartment.

      • Anonymous

        They can’t, but they sure can help him locate resources to make the apartment habitable.

  • Anonymous

    You should also get in touch with Dupont Circle Village, a non-profit that helps people age in place. They would be especially helpful after Ralph moves back home (as I hope happens!).

  • Anonymous

    Prior to making any contribution, there needs to me some assurance that this money is safely kept in a trust of some kind for Ralph so that it is used exclusively for his benefit. I think it’s great that his neighbor wants to help, but the money MUST go to him. Unless the money is safeguarded, it could be used for anything. I’m not saying it will be, but it could be.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you. Ralph reminds me of my dad, who passed away last year after a series of illnesses and long hospital/recovery stays. He too loved coffee, served in the Korean war, and did everything right. We had the joy of seeing him enjoy his final years in a place he loved. I wish this for Ralph. I just contributed. Happy holidays.

  • G

    I donated to this cause because I feel that Trisha has the best of intentions and money will help Ralph in the short term, but it raises a question for me: Is it time for Ralph to sell and use the equity to sure himself financially and perhaps move somewhere better suited for his age and needs at this time in his life? I understand the emotional attachments to a home, but Ralph hasn’t lived there for 3 years and likely it hasn’t felt like home since the passing of his wife. None of this takes away from the cause and I encourage more people to donate, but after Ralph gets through this challenge I think perhaps he needs guidance on the next step.

  • EB


    • kj

      me too!

  • Even careful reading of the explanation leaves a lot of questions – but the fact remains that this doesn’t sound like a scam or a false story. I strongly second the recommendations to contact legal services.

    I can’t imagine a coop board letting 6 months of fees go uncollected, let alone 3 years. Someone had to know he was in hospital. And they can certainly waive the 3 years of late fees. But clearly there is a whole lot more going on that we don’t know about. Get legal help.

    I suspect that if he owns a coop in Dupont Circle where he only has to pay $250.00 a month, chances are good someone is after it – so legal help is certainly needed.

    • Anonymous

      Agreed. It’s not obviously a scam, but who really knows? Troubling that so many questions are left unanswered. And there’s no guarantee that this money will be used exclusively for Ralph’s sake. Legal services are direly in need here.

  • A neighbor

    Donated! I don’t know if the timing will work out but perhaps Rebuilding Together DC could help with the bathroom renovations next spring?


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