“I hope this motivates elected officials — and all of us — to do more for our homeless.”

by Prince Of Petworth March 22, 2017 at 3:30 pm 36 Comments


“Dear PoPville,

As I was waking past the dog park on 25th and M around 7:15 last night, I came across the unfortunate sight of the DC medical examiner’s van backed up to a port-a-potty (incidentally it was a Don’s John). As I passed, I caught a glimpse of a gurney being wheeled toward the open door of a port-a-potty. There were also 8 or so uniformed and plainclothes cops, as well as techs. I obviously don’t know details, but I feel for the poor person who passed away (or was dumped) in a port-a-potty. I know it’s speculation at this point, but if what I suspect is true and a homeless person passed away in a port-a-potty, I hope this motivates elected officials — and all of us — to do more for our homeless.”

  • northeazy

    This is 100% pure speculation. What if someone committed suicide? What if it was a homicide? I am all for helping the homeless, as most people are, but I just cannot understand how you make a connection to homelessness based on seeing some medical people near a Port-a-Potty.

    • FridayGirl

      I also agree with this, despite my post below. It would have been nice if OP asked or investigated further before sending to PoP.

      • OP

        Hi – I hear what you’re saying about investigating first, but part of my intention in contacting PoP was to see if someone in the community knew something. MPD wasn’t releasing info and the news outlets weren’t reporting it. And I acknowledge that I’m speculating about the circumstances, I just thought a dead body in a portapotty deserved attention.

    • PetworthGuy

      “I know it’s speculation at this point, but…” the OP literally stated that it was speculation and conjecture. What is the point of a comment like this? Is the OP not allowed to express their opinion or theory? And to answer your question, I could see how the OP might have assumed it was a homeless person – a port-a-potty could be a way to escape the wind and cold (as last nights temp dipped to the 30’s). Of course it could have been something else, this was just a theory not a fact.

      • OliverKatz

        I agree! OP said it was speculation, and seemed to just be trying to say we need to look out for the homeless and otherwise needy people in our city. I actually saw what OP described, and I also didn’t ask anyone what had happened (the officers sure seemed like something upsetting had taken place; the looks on their faces, for what that’s worth), and I also assumed it was either a homeless person seeking shelter from the cold or a drug addict seeking shelter to do drugs. The fact that most commenters’ speculations about a death in a port-o-potty involved a homeless person and/or a drug overdose (the two are obviously not mutually exclusive) says how likely people think such an event might be. And yet, I have been trying to find some news item or police blotter about what happened, and have not been able to locate anything. So, do commenters think this type of thing happens a lot and is just not reported? Are folks ok with that?

      • ajr

        Don’t get worked up over northeazy. They never have anything positive or helpful to add to the conversation.

        • PetworthGuy

          I was about to say the same thing – negative nancy. Just yesterday when the 18 y.o. pup was adopted almost a hundred comments of “congrats/good for you/that’s awesome”…..until northeazy…”am I the only one who thinks its wrong to re-name a dog at 18?” or something to that effect. I can’t imagine living my life with so much animosity.

      • MorgaNado

        +1 I appreciate the post. From my perspective, at my office window just above the scene, the same thoughts, as the OP, went through my mind.

    • navyard

      Many people write in to PoP to see if he or others have more info. I don’t see what the big deal is, other than you don’t like the OP’s wording.

    • VV

      Based on the number of used needles I found in a port-a-potty by the start line of the marathon a few weeks ago, they might have ODed…

  • FridayGirl

    Have you seen the West Wing episode (“In Excelsis Deo”) where the homeless veteran passes away? The entire country should be doing more for the poor — including the rural poor who often barely have access to resources even if they want them.
    On another note, to add to all the speculation above (a LOT of speculation above), I would not be surprised if this was an overdose case.

    • textdoc

      +1 that the original post is mighty speculative.
      And my first thought was also overdose.

    • Anon NS

      Since we are all just making random guesses, I agree that overdose is the most likely.

  • ParkViewneighbor

    I am paying a whole lot of federal and DC taxes already and our infrastructure, our services, our healthcare and others are utterly crappy. Where is the money going (beside shiny new missiles)?
    I understand the call for caring for homeless people and being a nice citizen but at this point, I am wondering why I get taxed at 8.5% in DC for next to nothing in terms of returns. Aren’t social services funded by my taxes and supposed to be looking out for homelessness?

    • Anonymous

      About a third of DC’s budget goes toward programs for low income and homeless residents. Regardless of program efficacy, it’s a chunk of change.

      The 2017 budget is pretty interesting. For example, I learned that DC spent $70+ million on overtime in 2015.

    • OliverKatz

      Just because DC spends a third of its budget on homeless people and those with low-incomes doesn’t mean those people have sufficient access to those resources, which is what FridayGirl said.

      Also, while I definitely understand the position that you should be getting more bangs for your tax bucks, to say that you get taxed “for next to nothing in terms of returns” is way overstating the issue. We get water on tap, sewage systems, water treatment, emergency services, street lights, traffic lights, roads, etc etc etc. I know that these things are a given in our society (and that they could work a lot better), but they are still “something” and to call such things “next to nothing” is like the fish who doesn’t know what water is …

      • ParkViewneighbor

        My quip was hyperbolic but the underlying concerns remain. You say we have street lights, roads etc…. I say yes we have them but we have the crappy version of them. I am saying that there is a discrepancy between what I / we pay in taxes and the level of service that we get in return. It’s like paying for a big mac and getting a cheeseburger, yes it’s edible but you still get swindled. That’s my point. I mean, 8.5% tax rate is high compared to other states and we cannot really say we have better services than cheaper states.
        As per anonymous above, 1/3 of the budget goes to homelessness and low-income. That’s a lot of money don’t you think? It means that out of my income, i pay roughly 3% just for homelessness relief and I still see homeless peeps all over the place. Hence my initial question: where is all that money going? Probably wasted on cronyism a la DC

        • Anonymous

          It’s hard to compare the tax rate in an entirely urban “state” with other states. Services needed are different, and residents of cities in those other states may also have city or county taxes to pay.
          I would like to see my money managed in D.C. better in some cases, but I am definitely not as unhappy as you are.

          • FridayGirl

            I agree. Our money could definitely be better-managed in some cases, but I’d also like to point out that this could be a pointless conversation in terms of this particular post, since there are also some homeless individuals who refuse service even in the severe cold, even if they need meds, even if they need help with their drug addiction, etc.

          • anonymous

            Agree with the point, nonetheless here is an analysis comparing the state & local tax as a percentage of income. It shows the US average at 10%, New York City at 15.8%, followed by DC at 13.8%, and other state averages. Curious how other cities would stack up.


    • Anonymous

      “for next to nothing in terms of returns.”
      LOL. I wish one of the returns was a virtual reality simulator in city hall where people like you could go to see what life in DC would actually be like if you got “next to nothing in terms of returns.”

      • ParkViewneighbor

        So you are happy with what you get in DC?

        • Anonymous

          I’m more happy than unhappy. I get far more than next to nothing for my tax dollars.

          • Anonymous

            And FYI, I’m not the same anonymous who responded to you above, so there are at least two of us who share somewhat of the same view.

        • JustSayin

          My child gets free pre-school at DCPS, our local library is beautiful with tons of programming and the swimming pool is a huge treat in the summer. We also received amazing free services when my child needed speech therapy and physical therapy. DC has lots and lots of problems, but keep it in perspective.

    • Anon

      After moving out of the city and across the river, I have to say I agree with you. In DC the quality of the the items tax money is spent on is so low- roads, education, lights, security, etc. I pay more over here but the county offers so many perks to it’s residents- our street lights are rarely out for more than a day, roads are repaired within a timely manner, our parks are always maintained, the school system is really good and I feel much safer overall. I think it comes down to managing the money and holding people accountable for being corrupt and wasteful.

      • DCDuchess

        I agree. I moved to D.C. from Alexandria, VA and the difference is like night and day. Even things as simple as replacing a damaged trash can in the park, you are playing hide and seek with agency employees who have less than zero concept regarding customer service.

      • Anonymous

        While I agree that Fairfax, Arlington, and Alexandria are better-run than DC, it’s important to put things in perspective when it comes to services for the poor. Alexandria had 11% of its residents living below the poverty line in 2015, while DC had 19% in 2013. The problem is simply massive in the District, and it is fairly clear that the city government cannot handle it for a number reasons. For even more perspective, the number of DC residents living below the poverty line in DC is equivalent to 77% of the entire population of Alexandria.

  • dcd

    “I obviously don’t know details, but I feel for the poor person who passed away **(or was dumped) in a port-a-potty.”**
    I mean . . . I know I’m a terrible person if I snicker at this. And yet . . .

  • Patrick Kennedy, ANC 2A

    The deceased was not a homeless person. I do not possess any other information about the circumstances of death, except that the person who passed was a contract worker on a nearby construction site.

    • OP

      This makes a lot of sense given the location. Thanks for following up!

    • ajr

      All-around very sad situation. Thank you for the information at least.

  • Bob sacamento

    Seems very likely this was drugs. I’d frankly be pretty surprised if it wasn’t. Homeless people don’t just hang out in porta potties. Even if it was a contract worker I’m still betting heroin. That doesn’t make it any less sad but just pointing out that this likely has nothing to do with the homeless.

    • Anon NS

      It could have been an unfortunately timed medical emergency from natural causes as well.

  • j

    It’s actually more common than you’d think for people, regardless of socioeconomic status, to pass in bathroom situations (trying to be respectful). First responders see it all the time. It IS very sad (what an awful place to go), but OP is drawing a lot of conclusions here that may very well not be true.

    • Bob Sacamento

      Thanks I didnt know this was that common. Guess it makes sense to avoid jumping to conclusions. Sad regardless of how a person went anyways.


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