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VOL. 16 ISSUE 14

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MAY 15 - 28, 2019

Real Stories

Real People

Still Boarded Up: A long con in Congress Heights STREETSENSEMEDIA.ORG

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The Cover

The Street Sense Media Story, #MoreThanANewspaper

Since 2016, D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine has been pursuing the property owners of several rundown buildings near Congress Heights Metro station. They are accused of constructively evicting low-income tenants, among other things. 2016 FILE

Originally founded as a street newspaper in 2003, Street Sense Media has evolved into a multimedia center using a range of creative platforms to spotlight solutions to homelessness and empower people in need. The men and women who work with us do much more than sell this paper: They use film, photography, theatre, illustration, and more to share their stories with our community. Our media channels elevate voices, our newspaper vendor and digital marketing programs provide economic independence. And our in-house casemanagement services move people forward along the path toward permanent supportive housing. At Street Sense Media, we define ourselves through our work, talents, and character, not through our housing situation.

PHOTO BY RODNEY CHOICE www.ChoicePhotography.com

John McGlasson

EDITORIAL INTERNS

Grace Collins, Aaron Raubvogel, Jordan Tobias, Noah Telerski

EDITORIAL VOLUNTEERS

Ryan Bacic, Jason Lee Bakke, Roberta Haber, Thomas Ratliff, Mark Rose, Andrew Siddons, Sarah Tascone, Jenny-lin Smith, Jackie Thompson, KJ Ward

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Miya Abdul, Bill Butz, Jane Cave, Emma Cronenwethe, Pete Clark, Orion Donovan-Smith, Maria Esposito, Roberta Haber, Ann Herzog, Bill Magrath, Alec Merkle, Nick Nowlan, Sarah O’Connell, Leonie Peterkin, Eugene Versluysen, Natalia Warburton


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EVENTS

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NEWS IN BRIEF Oversight hearing surfaces complaints about access to services for families BY AARON RAUBVOGEL // Editorial Intern

Health Awareness Day Symposium & Vendor Fair Saturday, May 8 // 12 p.m. - 3 p.m. First Congregational United Church of Christ // 945 G Street, NW

Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia-related conditions are projected to affect an estimated 11 million Americans in the next 20 years--double the number impacted today. Research shows African Americans are twice as likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Early screening, prevention strategies and caring for escalating numbers of African Americans with Alzheimer’s disease require community awareness and action. The Greater Washington Urban League Guild presents a lecture and panel discussion that will explore grassroots and policymaking strategies for alleviating the care-giving burden resulting from the disease. MORE INFO: Lisa Bass Cooper (202.360.1858) or Keeva Harmon (guild@gwul.org)

MAY 7 - 28

UPDATES ONLINE AT ICH.DC.GOV

TUESDAY, MAY 21

Tuesday Iftars For Homelessness

D.C. Interagency Council on Homelessness Meetings

DC Bus Service Transformation Open House

7:30 pm - 9 pm Franklin Square // 1300 I St, NW For the fifth year in a row, Islamic Relief USA invites anyone to take the time to sit down, have a meal, and share the joys we have during Ramadan with people who happen to be homeless in D.C. More: tinyurl.com/2019-iftar-volunteer tinyurl.com/2019-iftar-donate

Shelter Operations Committee May 22, 1 pm // TBD* * Likely 441 4th Street NW Youth Committee May 23, 10 am // TBD* * Likely 441 4th Street NW Strategic Planning Committee May 28, 2:30 pm // TBD* * Likely 441 4th Street NW

4:30 pm - 7:30 pm Kennedy Recreation Center 1401 7th Street, NW

Learn more about the elements and recommendations in the draft strategy to overhaul bus service in the region. Speak with staff and provide feedback. Open houses are child-friendly and light snacks will be served. Bilingual Spanish speaking staff will be on-site.

Submit your event for publication by emailing editor@streetsensemedia.org

AUDIENCE EXCHANGE Alexis Goldstein @alexisgoldstein

Erin Way

@BluJWay33

[@streetsensedc’s] coverage is award-winning and covers way more issues than some people know! They don’t just cover homelessness & affordable housing.

Totally agree! Everyone in DC should get the app - makes it easy to buy a copy (cuz who carries cash nowadays?) www.streetsensemedia.org/app

9:26 AM - 3 MAY 2019

7:11 PM - 3 MAY 2019

Virginia Williams Family Resource Center is the primary D.C. government entity for all families requiring assistance with their housing needs. The center, located on Rhode Island Ave NE near the Brentwood Metro Station, provides housing resources, temporary shelter, community resources, food stamps, and Medicaid. Many people have expressed complaints about how they were treated at the Virginia Williams Center by various staff members and employees. Eight people testified at the recent DHS/ICH Joint Oversight Committee Meeting on March 1st about their negative experiences at Virginia Williams. One of the people who testified, Tanisha Vinson, a single mother of three children, became homeless after her former property was foreclosed without warning from her landlord. She lived with a relative for a bit, but it soon became unsustainable, so she moved into her car. Vinson then went to Virginia Williams for assistance, where she was turned away several times, including one time where “the case worker at Virginia Williams center escorted me to my car to verify I was actually staying in my car [which] I found to be very unprofessional and humiliating.” Donesathes Wynn, another testifier at the DHS/ICH Oversight Committee Meeting, was sleeping in homeless shelters with her disabled son when she decided to seek help from Virginia Williams. She testified, “The first time I went to Virginia Williams Family Resource Center, before I had a lawyer, they looked at me and said that they could not help me because my son did not look like he was disabled, even though I showed them the social security paperwork showing he had a disability.” Wynn was also turned away two more times from Virginia Williams because she could not provide papers proving she was the legal guardian of her son. Two other women, Lokiesha Hester and Shellae Shorter, were turned away from Virginia Williams while they were pregnant because women can only be admitted for services when they are seven months pregnant. Hester was turned away even though she was living in an increasingly abusive relationship, and, when she was eventually admitted to Virginia Williams, they referred her to another program where she did not receive satisfactory services for her needs. The Department of Human Services, the government entity that manages the Virginia Williams Center, did not provide a comment in response to these complaints about Virginia Williams. All eight of the people who testified about Virginia Williams at the meeting mentioned how the staff at Virginia Williams were rude and disrespectful to them in some way, including the staff getting angry and frustrated with them for seemingly no reason. Some, such as Vinson, believe that those working at Virginia Williams need to have more compassion and patience with clients at the center. Others people who testified said they know know what resources they need to get out of homelessness, but Virginia Williams and the city are not very forthcoming about providing those resources. Shorter said she requires assistance paying the security deposit on an apartment, but D.C. refuses to provide it because she does not have ample proof of employment. “I feel that greater sincerity and sympathy amongst caseworkers and other city employees would make seeking out services less intimidating and more effective,” Hester said in her testimony. “People really need to care.”


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NEWS

Mayor asks how to add 12,000 affordable housing units throughout DC by 2025 BY CUNEYT DIL // @cuneytdil

This article was first published by TheDCLine.org. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s administration will host community meetings throughout the city this summer to establish neighborhood targets laying out how to distribute a total of 12,000 new affordable housing units over the next five years. Bowser signed a mayor’s order on Friday as an initial step to fulfilling her second-term pledge to add 36,000 new housing units in D.C. by 2025, a third of which would be designated as affordable housing units. The plan directs the city’s housing-related agencies to accelerate the production of these new units throughout the city. The order notes, for instance, that the D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development should “implement techniques to reduce the risk of developing affordable housing and encourage larger and more complex affordable housing redevelopment projects.” The document also leaves the door open for seeking changes to the federal Height of Buildings Act of 1910, which limits most construction along major corridors to 13 stories. To meet the District’s goal of adding 36,000 total units by 2025, District agencies will “evaluate increasing allowable building height and density,” the order says. That may include seeking to ease current restrictions established by the zoning regulations, which are often more restrictive than the federal law allows. While the mayor’s order refers to maximizing height and density under existing federal law, “it does not preclude our work from Muriel Bowser analyzing strategic adjustments to the federal limits related to our housing needs,” Office of Planning director Andrew Trueblood wrote in an email. The Office of Planning will solicit input on housing issues at a series of public meetings in May and June and then, before the end of September, establish affordable housing targets for specific areas. In sync with the Bowser administration’s continuing project to construct short-term shelters for homeless families in every ward, the mayor said the city also needs an “equitable distribution” of new affordable units across the city, including wealthier neighborhoods. “Of course Ward 7 will have affordable units. Of course Ward 8 will have affordable units. But what part will Ward 3 play?” Bowser said as Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development Brian Kenner and directors of the city’s housing agencies stood nearby. Bowser said that the summer meetings will be a chance to “put everything we know on the table” and solicit new ideas from the public. The Office of Planning will hold meetings in 10 planning regions. One of those areas — “Rock Creek West,” which includes all of Ward 3 — was home to just 1 percent of the 50,871 subsidized affordable housing units in the city as of September 2018, according to the agency. The Far Southeast and Southwest region meanwhile accounted

Of course Ward 8 will have affordable units. But what part will Ward 3 play?”

Mayor Muriel Bowser signed an executive order Friday directing the city’s housing-related agencies to take steps to speed up production of housing units throughout the city — 36,000 by 2025, with one-third of them to be designated as affordable housing. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE MAYOR’S OFFICE

for 31 percent of the city’s total last year, with another 19 percent built in Far Northeast and Southeast. Bowser signed the order at the site of a Ward 7 town house development — funded through the D.C. Housing Finance Agency’s Housing Investment Platform — where all five units will accommodate households making up to $140,600. Dubbed a “housing rally,” the event drew Bowser supporters as well as a handful of residents who disrupted the speech, telling the mayor at one point that the city is “not affordable currently.” “Well, let’s work on it,” Bowser countered. During the speech, demonstrators — who held signs likening Bowser to President Donald Trump — urged the mayor to fund repairs to the city’s public housing units. The D.C. Housing Authority, an independent agency, has said it needs $300 million to make immediate repairs to substandard units, at a time when federal funding for public housing is diminishing. The mayor and the D.C. Council say the authority needs to provide better information and perhaps undergo a management overhaul before that money can be allocated and properly spent. Agencies covered under the mayor’s order include not only the Office of Planning but also the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, the Department of Housing and Community Development, the Department of Human Services and the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs. At Friday’s rally, Bowser also called on D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson to arrange a vote on her proposed pro-development amendments to the Comprehensive Plan, a guide for planning and development in the city. The amendments aim to make it more difficult to challenge large development projects in court by limiting the grounds for successful appeals. In recent years, thousands of housing units have been stalled after activists took developers to court, arguing

their projects were incompatible with the Comprehensive Plan. Mendelson had originally discussed having the council vote on the plan’s Framework Element late last year, but more recently said he would schedule a vote sometime this spring. He has also said his staff would redraft the legislation to place more emphasis on affordable housing — one of the criticisms leveled during last spring’s marathon public hearing on the document. In her 2020 budget, Bowser has proposed increasing the city’s annual allocation to the Housing Production Trust Fund, the city’s main lender for affordable housing projects, to $130 million, up from $100 million. Her budget also sets aside $30 million for a Workforce Housing Fund, meant to target middle-income earners. That fund drew criticism from Lark Cantoe, a demonstrator who predicted the Workforce Housing Fund would benefit middle-class workers seeking to move into the city. “This is specifically for housing for [people] outside of the city to come in,” she said after the rally. Cantoe said the city should instead put the resources toward helping the District’s neediest residents. In her remarks, Bowser said her administration is putting adequate funding toward easing the housing crunch that contributes to displacement. “The sense of being displaced from this town is real,” Bowser said at the end of her speech, responding to demonstrators. “I’ve got a plan.” Housing issues will continue to figure prominently on the mayor’s schedule this week, according to her press office. On Wednesday, Bowser will return to Ward 7 for a ribbon-cutting at the Fort Chaplin Park Apartments, the site of 549 affordable housing units. She will also discuss the District’s initiatives and call for a regional housing strategy at the Affordable Housing Conference of Montgomery County’s 28th annual summit on May 17.


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This pilot program allows health clinics to prescribe produce to improve health, supported by grocery vouchers BY STEVE LILIENTHAL Volunteer

P

harmacist Adaoma Chinweuba recalls a patient in Ward 8 whose thirst led to drinking a large amount of soda — and then a trip to the ER. She asked the patient: “Did you know that, as a borderline diabetic, what you eat and drink can impact your condition?” “No!” was the shocked response. Similar incidents, according to Chinweuba, occur all too frequently in Ward 8, an area with high incidences of diabetes, infant mortality, and obesity. But a new pilot program stands to help residents struggling with chronic conditions to plan and eat healthier meals. Through Produce Rx, AmeriHealth Caritas works with participating clinics managed by Unity Health Care and Community of Hope to provide patients with chronic conditions such as diabetes, prediabetes and hypertension with a “prescription” for vouchers worth $20 per week to purchase fresh produce at Ward 8’s Giant Food Store at 1535 Alabama Ave. SE. It’s the latest front in the push by local nonprofit D.C. Greens to improve food justice and health equity.

Adaoma Chinweuba (right) and two colleagues at the April 24 Produce Rx kickoff event. PHOTO COURTESY GIANT FOOD STORE / HELENA COUTINH

Despite efforts to entice other grocers, the Giant is Ward 8’s only full-service grocery store — a marked contrast to neighboring Ward 6, where a Street Sense Media analysis identified 11 grocery store locations in 2017. A protest over this inequity drew more than 200 participants that October. Good Foods Markets has since broken ground on a Ward 8 location expected to open later this year, but concerns remain about access to fresh, nutritious food D.C. Greens Executive Director Lauren Shweder Biel notes that D.C. Greens also runs a D.C. Department of Health-funded program called Produce Plus, which provides a $10 weekly check to D.C. participants in the food stamp, Medicaid, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, SSI Disability and Qualified Medicare Beneficiary programs for use at participating farmers markets throughout the city.

Last year, over 9,000 people took part in Produce Plus. Benefits extend beyond good food alone. Many Produce Plus participants help build awareness by acquainting their neighbors and friends with the markets and healthy food options. Participation in Produce Plus is highest in wards 7 and 8, with approximately 45 percent of customers residing in those wards. It’s needed, proponents say. Supermarkets are scarce east of the Anacostia River and produce is more expensive than many other food items, putting a strain on the budgets of people with limited means. Additionally, median household incomes in Ward 8 ($30,910) and neighboring Ward 7 ($39,165) pale when compared to Northwest D.C.’s Ward 2 ($100,388) and Ward 3 ($112,873), whose more affluent residents can afford to select health-oriented fare even if it costs more than other options. That lack of affluence in Ward 8 takes its toll. “Look at the health statistics in the city,” urges Jillian Griffith, the Ward 8 Giant’s licensed dietitian nutritionist. The ward has the lowest life expectancy rate in D.C. at 69 years, and Ward 7 is little better at 71.7 years. In contrast, the 2018 D.C. Health Equity Report puts life expectancy in Ward 3 at 86.1 years and Ward 2’s at 85.2 years. Griffith details the difficulties many people in Ward 8 face. Combine the cost of produce with high rents and a lack of good transportation options to reach Ward 8’s sole full-service grocery store and it is no wonder many residents experience “food insecurity” even with the help of Produce Plus. “It’s a myth that people do not want fruits and vegetables,” explains Griffith. “People love fruits and vegetables.” But people with limited incomes are confronted with “difficult choices.” Even the bulk of produce items can become a stumbling block. “If you take the bus,” Griffith says, “how much food can you transport back in one trip?” Awareness of these obstacles led D.C. Greens to start advocating a few years ago to expand a more limited version of the “prescription” program so that it would cover full-service grocery stores. A smaller, citywide program already provided a limited number of AmeriHealth patients with prescriptions for use at farmers markets. But D.C. Greens worked with Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh, D.C. Health and AmeriHealth Caritas to launch the current, more ambitious version of Produce Rx, allowing redemption of the vouchers at grocery stores. Last spring, Cheh, chair of the council’s Committee on Transportation and the Environment, collaborated with Ward 7 Councilmember Vincent Gray, chair of the

A display at the Ward 8 Giant’s April 24 kickoff event for the Produce Rx program. PHOTO COURTESY OF GIANT FOOD STORE / HELENA COUTINH

Health Committee, to fund the expanded Produce Rx program for one year. With this week’s budget vote, the funding was tentatively extended through 2020. Under the program, patients of AmeriHealth 18 years or older on Medicaid and diagnosed with prediabetes, Type 2 diabetes or hypertension are eligible. Patients do not need to be Ward 8 residents, but most of the referring community clinics are located in Ward 8, as is the only currently participating supermarket. Participants can redeem their “prescription” at Giant for either a weekly or biweekly produce voucher but are required to meet regularly with their health care providers to monitor their vital health signs and obtain renewals. Participants are urged to attend nutrition classes to learn about the benefits of increasing their consumption of fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Griffith and Chinweuba say that better food options can help people who have prediabetes or are susceptible to high blood pressure or diabetes to better manage their conditions — potentially with less medication. “What people eat has a lot to do with how their body responds,” says Chinweuba. Avoiding food high in processed sugars, sodium, and saturated fats can help people better manage their blood sugar and blood pressure. But making healthier choices can involve not just being able to pay but also breaking old thinking. “It takes a little planning,” admits Griffith. “Many people like relatively cheap potato chips as snacks even though they contain noticeably higher levels of sodium and fat when compared to carrot sticks with hummus or celery with peanut butter and raisins.” Although Griffith says Produce Rx provides participants with “more flexibility” in their budgeting and food choices, that’s not the

only benefit. Getting more people to eat diets heavy in fruits and vegetables could help save D.C. and federal health agencies money given the high cost of ambulance trips, ER visits, prescription medicine and treatments associated with poorly controlled chronic conditions, proponents say The pilot program has funding through December 2019, according to a press release from Giant Food. Its future now looks more secure as well, with the D.C. Council reversing the mayor’s cut to Produce Rx. The 2020 budget that won initial approval Tuesday includes $330,000 for the program. In early May, Cheh’s Transportation and Environment Committee approved funding for Produce Rx and several other nutrition-related programs though a 1 percent increase in the soda tax. The funding source initially drew objections on procedural grounds, though Cheh attributed the dissension to efforts by “big soda” to derail the tax hike. “With these funds, doctors at partner clinics will be able to continue writing prescriptions to approximately 500 patients in Ward 8,” according to the council’s draft committee report. “Further, this enhancement will position the District to build new partnerships with clinical providers and receive new federal dollars via a produce prescription title in the Farm Bill.” Ideally, D.C. Greens hopes that analyses of the Produce Rx program prove its costeffectiveness, and Shweder Biel speaks optimistically about Produce Rx eventually covering the entire city. “It’s wonderful to serve 500 patients,” she said before adding that helping more D.C. residents migrate to healthier diets would be even more wonderful. This article was co-published with TheDCline.org


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NEWS

Activists dramatize budget session in an attempt to influence FY2020 appropriations

Photo by Reginald Black, Artist/Vendor

BY HARRY FREY Volunteer

W

hile members of the D.C. Council gathered for their May 8 meeting to set the budget priorities for fiscal year 2020, advocates for the homeless community staged a poignant example of political theater before the steps of the Wilson Building. Arrayed around a folding table in the open air, representatives from several homeless advocacy groups and their allies held a mock council session and unanimously passed a resolution titled “Provide Everyone A Way Home.” As the motion was passed, chants went up: “Housing is a human right!” “Fight! Fight! Fight!” The demonstration was organized by The Way Home Campaign, a coalition of more than 100 organizations dedicated to combating chronic homelessness in the District. The mockcouncil was chaired by Jesse Rabinowitz of Miriam’s Kitchen. The speakers included members of three homeless aid and advocacy groups, an analyst from the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute, and a neighborhood commissioner representing Takoma Park. Dozens of advocates, housed and unhoused, turned out in support. The speakers said the D.C. government has a humanitarian responsibility to house its homeless residents and that doing so is less expensive than providing emergency services while people live on the street. “Without the housing opportunities available now, I would not be alive,” said Waldon Adams. After receiving permanent supportive housing assistance to end his homelessness, Adams went on to become a marathon runner and work as an advocacy fellow for Miriam’s Kitchen, and is now a street outreach worker for Pathways to Housing DC. “It bothers me greatly that we have to determine who gets a chance and who doesn’t,” Adams said. “One to five percent reductions in homelessness is a goal that is very slight and slow reduction rather that bold change at this for solutions that we know work.” Robert Warren, director of the homeless advocacy group The People for Fairness Coalition, and Tamika Spellman, policy and advocacy associate of the harm reduction organization HIPS, both echoed Adams’ statements on how the housing assistance helped to turn their lives around

“I’ve endured a lot during my time in D.C. since 1990,” Spellman said. “From discrimination from shelters to housing, to assaults, robberies, even sexual assault — things that would not have happened had I had a home.” Doni Crawford, an analyst with the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute, said the discrepancy between the percentage of all D.C. residents who are people of color versus the number of people of color experiencing homelessness in the District makes this an issue of racial equity. The latest census data on demographics in the District show that 47 percent of residents identify as Black or African American; in contrast, 74 percent of homeless single adults in the D.C. metro area and 88 percent of adults in homeless families identify as Black or African American. Crawford also criticized the amount of funding in the proposed budget for the Housing Production Trust Fund, a crucial mechanism for developing more affordable housing in the District. Erin Palmer, a commissioner from neighborhood 4B02 in Takoma Park, asked the crowd, “Who are we as a city if we are not giving our fellow Washingtonians the respect and dignity we all deserve?” After each member had spoken, the resolution prepared by The Way Home Campaign was read to the assembled crowd. Minutes before the council’s budget meeting began in earnest, the demonstrators funneled into the Wilson Building. Their objective was to present the people’s resolution to Chairman Mendelson with the hope of inspiring budgetary reconsideration at the eleventh hour. Demonstrators filled the hallway outside the chairman’s office, asking for only a moment of his time before the meeting. Aides stepped out to intercede and were asked by the advocates to fetch their boss. Eventually, two delegates from the chairman’s office came forth to hear the demonstrators demands and accept their resolution. Chairman Mendelson did not make time for the advocates. After pulling back to the council chamber entrance, the demonstrators formed a gauntlet, passing out copies of their resolution and budget recommendations to each official as they arrived for the meeting, which was closed to the public though broadcast and recorded online. The Way Home Campaign’s resolution demanded $18.8 million in funds, less than one half of 1 percent of the city’s $14.5 billion budget, to end chronic homelessness for 725 more individuals than the proposed budget will serve. The D.C. Fiscal

Policy Institute provided recommendations for how the city could best allocate this funding: $16.72 million toward permanent supportive housing for 661 individuals, and $2.6 million for Targeted Affordable Housing for an additional 124 individuals. Chronic homeless — which includes people who have been homeless for more than a year or during multiple episodes within a set time frame, and who also live with a physical or mental disability — is down 13.3 percent since the 2018 point-in-time count. While these numbers show progress, the city is nowhere near Mayor Bowser’s goal of making homelessness “rare, brief, and nonrecurring” in the city by 2020. “This success should rapidly propel us to do more and do mores quickly,” Rabinowitz said at the May 8 demonstration. The resolution also called for the D.C. Council to invest $3.5 million in the Homeless Street Outreach Network. The outreach program has been successfully connecting chronically homeless individuals with housing and municipal service systems. But, with federal funding phasing out at the end of the 2019 fiscal year, the program faces severe cuts. At the time of the demonstration, the outreach program was set to lose more than half of its staff, dropping from 40 employees to 15. Whereas the program currently serves the entire D.C. area, the reduced staff would only have been able to serve the city center and a portion of Northwest. However, thanks to an amendment introduced by Ward 1 Councilmember Brianne Nadeau and backed by eight other councilmembers, the budget bill that initially passed on May 14 restored $2.4 million for the outreach program and included enough funding for an additional 200 units of permanent supportive housing. “We WON!” tweeted The Way Home Campaign, claiming the unfettered budget bill would end chronic homelessness for 600 individuals and 180 families in the District. The initial budget legislation also included $30 million for public housing repairs. While the D.C. Housing Authority estimates it needs more than $300 million to make critical repairs to its properties, the mayor’s budget proposal did not include any funding for this purpose. “Councilmember Allen also included funding for the Office of the Attorney General to add a full-time attorney working on prosecuting housing code violations, including holding the District’s largest landlord, the District of Columbia’s Housing Authority, accountable for making repairs in a timely manner,” according to a press release from the Ward 6 councilmember’s office. A second vote is schedule for May 28 before the final legislation is transmitted to Mayor Bowser for her signature and passed on for congressional approval. Reginald Black contributed reporting.

Photo by Reginald Black, Artist/Vendor


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CELEBRATING SUCCESS

Sheila White, Firebird. PHOTO BY KEN MARTIN

WAMATA headquarters at 600 5th Street NW, near Judiciary Square. IMAGE COURTESY OF GOOGLE STREET VIEW, 2018

Nadeau proposes affordable housing requirements for development on former “quasi-government property” BY ALEXANDRA KELLEY Volunteer

Since Brianne Nadeau was elected Ward 1 Councilmember in 2015, she has consistently prioritized investments in affordable housing. She oversees a sizeable part of the Northwest quadrant of D.C., including Howard University and popular and historic neighborhoods such as Columbia Heights, Adams Morgan, the U Street Corridor. These communities are some of the most intensely gentrified neighborhoods in the country, let alone in the District, according to a recent report. However, in recently proposed legislation, Nadeau identified previously overlooked property options for affordable housing development. The Land Disposition for Affordable Housing Amendment Act of 2019 aims to expand the opportunity for the District to build more affordable housing on previously undesignated plots. Those properties are unique in that they belong to what Nadeau calls “quasi-government” institutions, companies that work closely with the D.C. government but are not owned or operated by it. Several examples of “quasi-government” institutions include D.C. Water, the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority (WMATA), and The Potomac Electric Power Company (PEPCO). These independent entities work extensively with governments in the region and have at least one D.C. government representative on their board of directors to work with federal regulations. Current regulations state that when the District disposes of land, a certain percentage of it must be dedicated to affordable housing. Nadeau’s bill would include these semi-government properties as viable development options.. “The law does not apply to [quasi-government agencies]. But they have a lot of land in the District of Columbia” Nadeau said in a phone interview. Nadeau’s bill would allow the city to acquire dispossessed property from organizations like WAMATA, which is preparing to move its headquarters, to redevelop the properties into affordable housing. The proposed bill also has potential to create additional

Artist and Vendor Sheila White aced her math class at UDC this semester.

BIRTHDAYS funding for the Housing Production Trust Fund. The HPTF, which was established in 1988, is required to spend 40 percent of its funds on households with incomes below 30 percent of the area median income. The other 40 percent of HPTF’s expenditures are required to serve households with incomes between 30 and 50 percent of the AMI, or between $24,600 and $41,000 for an individual. One main revenue source for the HPTF is from deed transfer and recordation tax, which is the amount property owners pay to the city whenever they sell territory. This is an indirect plus to the HPTF; the more homes sell, the more money there is for affordable home development. Between the $30 million dollar budget increase for HPTF proposed by Mayor Muriel Bowser and Nadeau’s pending legislation, affordable housing in the District is poised to increase. Nadeau is excited to use these assets to create more local housing, and she is not alone. WMATA had previously issued a press release in January 2019 disclosing its intent to sell surplus properties throughout the D.C. metro region. This dispossession aims at saving the WMATA maintenance costs which can be reallocated to other operating expenses. The WMATA lists eight available properties that are located in transit-accessible territory which can be developed to benefit the local communities. The Land Disposition for Affordable Housing Amendment Act of 2019 comes during the debate over the Robert F. Kennedy Stadium acquisition. This bill has no jurisdiction over the usage of the RFK Stadium, as it remains a federally-owned building. Still, Nadeau hopes that it will be used constructing affordable housing. “There is a lot of conversation going on between the [Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton]and the mayor to ensure that we have the right usage of that land,” Nadeau said. “That is something that I care about a lot because I think it would be a really great place for housing.”

Conrad Cheek Jr. May 15 ARTIST/VENDOR

Reginald Black May 23 ARTIST/VENDOR

ACCOMPLISHMENTS Angie Whitehurst

Participated in a focus group for the District Task Force on Jails and Justice ARTIST/VENDOR

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8 // ST REET SENSE ME DI A / / MAY 1 5 - 2 8 , 2 0 19

NEWS

A mostly boarded-up apartment building near the Congress Heights Metro station on Alabama Ave., SE, still inhabited in 2016. FILE PHOTO BY RODNEY CHOICE, WWW.CHOICEPHOTOGRAPHY.COM

Griffis says it’s cheaper to replace Congress Heights properties than repair them. Attorney general says replacement has been the developer’s goal for years and low-income tenants have suffered. BY MEGAN MINEIRO @mmineiro827

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n May 15, a D.C. Superior Court judge will hear arguments regarding the selection of a new receiver for a dilapidated apartment complex in Ward 8. The contested buildings are at the heart of a civil case brought in 2016 by the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia over ownership and redevelopment of the site, which is next to the Congress Heights Metro Station. On May 7, Judge Kelly Higashi heard testimony from Geoffrey Griffis, the land developer at the center of the dispute. Griffis’s company, CityPartners, was added to the complaint last year after it acquired properties from Sanford Capital in December 2017. In a statement that stunned the judge and the District’s legal team and derailed the hearing, the CityPartners attorney said while questioning Griffis that the defense now wants a full termination of the court-appointed receivership in place since 2017. Higashi refused to consider the request because attorneys hadn’t raised the issue in advance of last week’s proceedings. The case has a long, tortured history. In September 2017, the court appointed David Gilmore, the current receiver, to manage rehabilitation of the properties after residents reported neglect under then-owner Sanford Capital that included mold, rodents and broken heating. Such conditions were found to be systemic in that company’s portfolio, and the settlement of a related lawsuit resulted in a court order requiring Sanford

Capital to divest from all of its properties in the District and prohibiting the company from operating in the city for the next seven years. For the specific properties in Congress Heights — 1309, 1331 and 1333 Alabama Ave. SE and 3210 13th St. SE — a judge had awarded the tenants the exclusive right to negotiate with Sanford to purchase the buildings in 2017. Yet the property was instead transferred to CityPartners with a deed in lieu of foreclosure, which the attorney general argues violated the previous court order and the tenants’ standard rights under the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act. According to a Washington City Paper report, tenants sued CityPartners in 2018 to have the properties returned to Sanford Capital so they could then be sold to the tenants, who intended to transfer their TOPA rights to the National Housing Trust/ Enterprise Preservation Corp. That case is still pending, with about 10 tenants still living in the buildings. In the meantime, the only thing standing between Griffis and total redevelopment of the site has been the courtordered receivership to ensure repairs aimed at bringing the building up to housing code. On April 26, CityPartners requested a restraining order and preliminary injunction be placed on the receiver. The court

denied the restraining order request but agreed to hear arguments for the preliminary injunction, which would halt renovation on the Congress Heights properties to allow time to reassess progress on bringing the buildings up to housing code. Then, on May 3, the District filed a request for the “complete dissolution” of the CityPartners subsidiary 5914 LLC. The motion states the company, in partnership with Sanford Capital, allowed the Congress Heights properties to deteriorate in order to force the remaining tenants out, which the District argues is “particularly egregious” given that the majority of tenants at the property have “modest financial means” and are therefore unable to seek out new housing when faced with unsafe housing conditions. The District claims that Griffis and Sanford Capital planned to allow the Congress Heights properties to “decline into slum-like conditions” in order to “constructively evict as many tenants as possible” and make way for a profitable redevelopment. Attorney General Karl Racine alleges Griffis created 5914 LLC in 2013 solely to assist in this purpose. CityPartners is claiming the properties are no longer economically viable for renovation and seeks termination of the receivership to allow for development to proceed. The company’s legal team said CityPartners came to this conclusion after a site

The District claims that Griffis and Sanford Capital planned to allow the Congress Heights properties to “decline into slum-like conditions” in order to “constructively evict as many tenants as possible”


STREETSENSEMEDIA.ORG

// 9

Three of the 22 photos of fire damage at the Congress Heights properties submitted by the CityPartners legal team in an April 26 petition for an injuction to halt repairs and restrainig order against the court-appointed receiver tasked with overseeing those repairs. PUBLIC RECORDS OBTAINED THROUGH DCCOURTS.GOV

visit the previous day that, according to the defense, was the first previously made the scope of his project clear: construction “You can see there [are] no finishes, there’s no drywall, opportunity for the respondents to view the properties at 1331 of a 446,000-square-foot mixed-use project surrounding the there’s really no flooring, there’s no ceiling, there are no walls,” and 1333 Alabama Ave. SE since a fire broke out in November Congress Heights Metro station on the parcels acquired from Griffis said. Given the current state of the buildings, he said, under the receiver’s management. Sanford Capital. Griffis says the redevelopment project will bringing them up to code and making them habitable would However, the brief the defense submitted when requesting generate hundred of jobs in retail and professional services, require extensive work, including the installation of new stairs, the restraining order on April 26 included an attachment with 22 as well as new tax revenue, neighborhood amenities, and an elevator and a sprinkler system. images of the units in the fire-damaged properties on Alabama more than 200 residential units split among market-rate and “At that level, you need to evaluate whether it is sensible Avenue, contradicting the CityPartners legal team’s claim that affordable housing. or purely wasteful to try and make these functional,” Griffis prior to the site visit the company had been unaware of the extent “Every project that we do is focused on creating a vision and said. “Or is the best-case scenario to build new construction, to of demolition undertaken by the receiver. a structure and a use that actually strengthens communities and build new code-compliant buildings that would actually provide CityPartners also alleges that the receiver has exceeded the neighborhoods throughout the city,” Griffis said in the hearing. decent safe, affordable housing?” plans for renovation. Local advocacy groups characterize the actions of CityPartners The District’s attorney, Jimmy Rock, repeatedly said Griffis “The receiver’s plan had always called for minimally invasive differently, saying Griffis sought to push out the current residents lacked the expertise to testify as to the state of the buildings cutting out sections of drywall,” the defense attorney said in to make room for the more profitable mixed-use project. In at 1331 and 1333 Alabama Ave. But Higashi overruled the court. “Our clients walked in yesterday and for the first time February 2018, Justice First and ONE D.C. organized a protest objections, stating that Griffis’ professional experience in realized that extensive demolition has occurred at these building.” outside his Cleveland Park home, where demonstrators chanted building construction and renovation prepared him to assess Higashi said she was “extremely disappointed” the “Hey-hey, ho-ho, slumlords have got to go!” the work necessary to bring the properties up to code. CityPartners attorney failed to present the new request at the But throughout the hearing, Griffis continued to reiterate that In cross-examining Griffis, Rock argued that Griffis was outset of the hearing, when the judge outlined both parties’ he had not blocked the District’s efforts to bring the properties aware of the deteriorating condition of the properties when his demands. Stating that the District was not prepared to argue up to code so the residents could return home. company acquired them from Sanford Capital in 2017. for the continuation of receivership, the judge agreed to hear “I have never tried to obstruct or slow down or get in anyone’s The District’s attorney continued to question Griffis on his arguments only on the original issues set to be addressed in way. What I am always interested in is making sure that we relationship with Sanford Capital, arguing that he was more the hearing. have a cost accountability and high-quality control,” Griffis said concerned with maintaining his public image than investing in On the docket were the replacement of the receiver, revisions in reference to his claim that the extent of the renovation and the necessary repairs to allow tenants to return to renovated to plans for renovations, the possibility of redeveloping versus demolition work has exceeded the receiver’s original plans. apartments that adhere to code. repairing the buildings, and compensation to tenants for As part of his testimony, Griffis presented a series of photos Rock also asked whether Griffis would “have any objections to additional rent they are paying for housing while relocated he had taken on a visit to 1331 and 1333 Alabama Ave. SE the [paying] the differentials of rent that the tenants are being charged during the renovation period. day before the hearing. for their temporary relocation” while the receivership continues. “My job is to make this process as fair In a series of back-and-forth exchanges as possible to both sides and as informative between the two, Griffis would not state to the court as possible,” Higashi said. She plainly whether he was willing to cover the reminded the defense attorney that, as a basic differential, estimated by Griffis to be $15,000 principle of courtroom litigation, it is improper a month. He had previously agreed to provide to completely change the purpose of argument each tenant a one-time $52,000 payment to for a set hearing. relocate during restoration of the Congress Prior to CityPartners’s unexpected request Heights apartments. to terminate the receivership, both parties had “I certainly don’t object to offsetting costs presented suggestions for a replacement receiver. for the temporary relocation of tenants before The District put forth Catalyst Property they move back into what I hope is a brandSolutions, a Houston-based company, while new building,” Griffis said. As for paying the CityPartners suggested Jay Gouline or rent differential, “I don’t think I have enough Melissa Steele, two locally based real estate information to be forced into ‘Do you agree professionals. Gilmore, the current receiver, or don’t you agree?’” had requested the court replace him. He has With the conclusion of Griffis’ testimony, also recommended that Catalyst Property less than 15 minutes remained before the Solutions take over management of the hearing had to end. Higashi adjourned the CityPartners properties. hearing until May 15 at 9:30 a.m., when Following the judge’s instruction to limit the District will call a witness from Catalyst the court proceedings to the original purpose Property Solutions, the city’s choice for of the hearing, the defense attorney resumed the new receiver. A mediation session with questioning Griffis as the first witness. the judge is also scheduled for 9 a.m. the Griffis described his company as long following day. committed to projects aimed at supporting A 2015 Washington Post infographic highlighting the Congress Heights properties since obtained by This article was co-published with TheDCLine.org communities throughout the District. CityPartners was printed by Congress Heights tenants and displayed at a Sept. 6, 2017 rally and press Though not referenced in the hearing, he has conference in front of the Wilson Building. FILE PHOTO BY REGINALD BLACK


1 0 // S T REET SENSE ME DI A / / MAY 1 5 - 2 8 , 2 019

OPINION

A closer look at the District’s Point-in-Time count BY PAT GEIGER

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n May 1, the District of Columbia released the results of its annual Point-in-Time, or PIT, count. The count, required by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, was conducted on Jan. 23 and found that 6,521 people were experiencing homelessness in the District on that night — a 6 percent decrease from 2018 numbers. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s office said the count reflected “tremendous progress” by the city in the years since the implementation of her Homeward DC plan in 2016. But these data, or any data from Point-in-Time counts, must be taken with a grain of salt. According to the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, the methodology of the count, which involves volunteers walking through the city to identify people sleeping outdoors and in shelters, leads to a systematic undercount of the homeless population. Street Sense Media vendor Reggie Black participated in this year’s count and noted that “there are some segments [of people experiencing homelessness] that [the PIT count] does not reach.”

A lack of shelter beds, combined with unsanitary, unsafe and dehumanizing conditions in existing shelters, drives some people experiencing homelessness to sleep on the streets. The number of unsheltered single adults was 12 percent higher in the 2019 PIT count than in 2018. Some of these individuals choose to form encampments. Since 2015, the Bowser administration has been cracking down on homeless encampments. According to data from the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services, the city has conducted more encampment cleanups each year since implementing their Protocol for the Disposition of Property Found on Public Space and Outreach to Displaced Persons in 2015. In theory, the protocol is supposed to connect encampment residents with services, namely shelter, and get them off the street. However, in practice, encampment cleanups have proven to be a costly and ineffective solution to a problem that shows no signs of going away.

PIT counts fail to capture people who sleep in hidden locations outdoors, live “doubled up” or are in jails and hospitals — but expanded counts can paint a more accurate picture of the state of homelessness in the city. The Department of Education includes people who are living “doubled up” — staying with friends or family out of economic necessity — in their definition of homelessness. Using this definition, the D.C. Office of the State Superintendent of Education counts the number of students experiencing homelessness in D.C. public schools. Their data show consistently higher numbers of children experiencing homelessness than the District’s PIT count. According to the OSSE’s 2017-18 School Year Attendance Report, there were 5,878 students experiencing homelessness. In comparison, the 2018 PIT count found only around 1,900 children experiencing homelessness. The PIT count is also flawed in its timeframe. The count is a snapshot of the city’s homeless population, revealing only the number of people experiencing homelessness on one specific night. Annualized data give a more accurate picture of the size of homeless populations. For example, the total number of unique individuals who slept in a New York City shelter in 2018 was more than double the number of individuals reported in one month, according to the Coalition for the Homeless. Even when looking at the limited data provided by PIT counts, it is clear that homelessness remains a huge problem for the District. With a population of just over 700,000 residents, the per capita rate of homelessness in D.C. is nearly 1:1000, making it comparable with New York and Los Angeles, two cities known for their high populations of people experiencing homelessness. In particular, D.C.’s PIT count results reveal worrisome trends for homeless singles. The entirety of the decrease in D.C.’s homeless population from 2018 to 2019 is accounted for by a reduction in the number of homeless family members counted. In contrast, the number of single individuals experiencing homelessness actually increased for the second year in a row. Meanwhile, there are not enough emergency shelter beds to accommodate all of these individuals. According to the most recent housing inventory from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, there were only 2,384 emergency shelter beds available to adults without children experiencing homelessness for a citywide population of over 3,800.

PIT count data underrepresent the problem of homelessness in the District. The limited definition of homelessness and methodology of the count leave out significant portions of the city’s homeless population. However, even when analyzing the data provided by the count, it is clear that the city has much work to do, particularly with regards to housing homeless singles. Recently, homeless encampments and encampment sweeps have come under increased scrutiny from local media and advocates. If current trends continue, encampments will remain a highly visible reminder of the structural inequalities that plague D.C. Patrick Geiger is an intern at the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty and volunteer at Street Sense Media. He recently defended his master’s thesis on the geography of homeless encampments in Washington, D.C.


Don't run for the bus! BY AYUB ABDUL

Even though Metro's posters warn people not to run after the bus, lots of people do it anyway. They do so at their peril, because ignoring that command can result in injury or death. Being on time for your next appointment isn’t worth spending time in the hospital with a serious injury---or even dying. You can always catch the next bus. On April 26. I watched a woman run after the X2. The bus driver saw her and tried to tell her not to run because the bus would

wait for her at the stop. Unfortunately, the woman wasn't looking at anything else. She was so focused on catching the bus that she ran into the street in front of a car. The driver tried to stop, but it was too late. She hit the pedestrian, injuring her. An ambulance then took the injured woman away. So heed those Metro signs. Walk, don't run. Ayub Abdul is an artist and vendor with Street Sense Media.

Careful what you say BY ANGIE WHITEHURST

I might be wrong, but I really think that The speech police are going wild. Beyond the elastic interpretation of law, beyond reason They’ve deputized the circus and the zoo: The blue donkeys, the red elephants, the green party, the undecided, blues, the red, the whites, the North, the South, the #MeToo. And all other who whoo's. What can I say, write, record, video tape, digitize, draw, paint or quote? It feels like the congressional chorus’s rendition of Duke Ellington’s song, modified by me: “You can’t say a thing without a legal wing No way, no way, no way, duh!” Everything is an open invitation to openly war on the airways. Fatigue is setting in. Do not get tired, for the speech police will enact new laws. The consequences would lead to arrests, criminalization and destruction of the first amendment. No proof needed, we seen what happened: the death of Khashoggi, the torture and arrest of women in Iran, the poisoning of Russian immigrants on foreign soil, the journalists and protesters jailed and killed in too many African countries. All of these countries are represented at the United Nations, but only pretend to agree with human rights principles. That said… This is a plea for all, wherever you are and whoever you are, to protect freedom of speech, freedom of the press, especially the independent newspapers. We are the last vestige not controlled by large global and national conglomerates, monopolies controlled by a few greedy, savvy people, gravy trains for the bull and bear stock markets. Freedom of speech is not limited to style sections and special interest stories randomly placed by the “big boy do as you’re told” editors-in-chief. Support your local independent newspapers, radio and social media stations. We all welcome your support, stories and volunteerism. At streetsensemedia.org, we are the voice for the homeless, the disconnected, the poor, the challenged. We report on the war for housing and we tell the stories of our community. Our staff is adamant and not afraid to lead. They include our editor Eric Falquero, Jeff Grey, Leila Drici, Gladys Robert, Colleen Cosgriff and executive director Brian Carome. When we solve homelessness, houselessness and price gouging in D.C., then they can all be silent. But until that time, we are the last check and balance for free speech. Angie Whitehurst is an artist and vendor with Street Sense Media.

Join the conversation, share your views - Have an opinion about how homelessness is being addressed in our community? - Want to share firsthand experience? - Interested in responding to what someone else has written? Street Sense Media has maintained an open submission policy since our founding. We aim to elevate voices from across the housing spectrum and foster healthy debate.

Please send submissions to opinion@streetsensemedia.org.


1 2 // S T REET SENSE ME DI A / / MAY 1 5 - 2 8 , 2 019

ART

Don’t give in to bullies BY AIDA PEERY // Artist/Vendor

On the mid-evening of April 18, it rained while I was selling my newspapers. So, since my other colleague wasn’t in his usual sales location at the McPherson Square Metro exit, I decided to sell some of my papers there, sheltered from the rain. (And abiding by the law that says I need to be so many feet away from the actual exit). Then here comes this security guard out of the 1400 building that sits above the Metro. He starts walking around the area. I kept selling my papers and got to chitchatting with the flower guy that usually sits there. Then, after doing several laps, the guard decides to tell me to move. I said “no,” because I had every right to be there. He said it was private property, which it is. But I looked at the sign attached to the brick wall that says “Private Property, No Loitering.”. It doesn’t say, “No Soliciting” or “No Sales” or anything like that. So I stood my ground. My newspaper business is just as legitimate as the flowers the other vendor was selling. And certainly the Jehovah’s Witnesses that stand right up on the Metro escalators frequently are loitering more

than any of us who are there to work. “If I call the police to remove you from this spot, then you will be barred from selling here ever,” he told me. This guy wasn’t interested in the flower vendor who was selling there too. He wasn’t interested in anyone who was literally loitering. It was just me who had to go. Was it because I happened to be a woman and he thought he could pick on me? Was it because he assumed I was homeless and that he could push me around? I said, again, “no.” And he became very abusive and threatening. He was an outright bully. I was a bit frightened by this guy’s demeanor, but I was also so mad I was shaking. I’ve been doing this job for over eight years. It’s my livelihood. So I was thanking God there were people around and I kept asking my angels to give me the strength not to allow a 6’2” or bigger guy intimidate me to leave. When the burly guard realized I was standing my ground, we left to call Metro Police like he said he would. They took there sweet time responding, probably pulling straws to see who was going to have to deal with this silly situation. But when the Metro Police finally arrived and the guard tried to accompany them to give me a talking to, the police officer told him that he they’d handle the situation and asked him to retreat back to his

desk inside the building he should have been securing. I showed the officer my vendor badge and explained I had every right to sell my newspaper there. The officer walked around looking for a sign that said I couldn’t be there. When he didn’t find one, all the officer said was, “Well it’s not raining anymore.” I made the same argument I had presented to the security guard, asking why I couldn’t sell my newspapers there when the flower vendor hasn’t been harassed or been asked to move. The police officer said nothing while he thought about that. Finally, the officer said, “OK, you can sit next to the flower guy. And if it rains again, you can get back in your spot in front of the Metro escalator.” I felt so humiliated, emotionally assaulted, and harassed. When I asked the officer if I could do a report against the security guard, for trying to intimidate a woman selling a “homeless newspaper” for $2 a piece, the officer said “yes” and gave me his card with information about where I could fill out the report. I haven’t done it yet. I had an accident that required four stitches and bed rest. But I plan to do it soon. This is my life, my income. But that’s just a day in the life. There’s never a dull moment on this job. Photo by Aida Peery

Treading the Waters, Part 16

BY GERALD ANDERSON Artist/Vendor

When we were last with Gerald in his hometown of New Orleans, he had just learned that his old crew, including his best friend Greg, had gone to prison for a string of robberies and he was worried he might get dragged into their bust... You know, the jail is so wild, man. Let me show you how the jail roll. And I know this how it roll cause I been in there. Say your girlfriend come. I would tell you, “Man, don’t go out there.” “I’m gonna go out there and holler at your girl.” You might say, “Huh??” “You go out there, I’m gonna kill you.” Dude don’t even go out there on his visit. He let me go. You have some old heads tell you about the jail. They used to make dudes “Jump in the Cup”. "Jump in the Cup" mean they’ll make you jump in the cup. Cup of water. You might think a man can’t jump in a cup. But that what they call it, “Jump in the Cup.” They play dangerous games in that jail. You got dudes make dudes bark, like a dog. It’s wild. We play a game like whoever go to sleep first... we play “Mummy Man”. “Mummy Man” mean if you go to bed first, we take all the tissue and wrap it around your ass then burn you, burn your feet. “Mummy man.” You jump up like a mummy! And we play cards. Like, we play cutthroat spades. That mean you play for yourself, I play for myself. But we play for drinks of water. Big cup of water. You can’t use the bathroom. You can’t go to the bathroom. You can’t go until you win your way out. But I used to be so slick in the game. I used to take a plastic bag and tie it around myself — but they don’t know. It’s a dangerous game, but it’s fun. To be continued.

Come enjoy a FREE meal and conversation with our volunteers! The first 40 guests will be served.

UPCOMING DINNERS: Friday, May 24th, 2019 Thursday, May 30th, 2019 Doors open at 6:00pm. Dinner is served at 6:30pm. 1317 G Street - Church of the Epiphany Questions about our dinners or interested in group volunteer opportunities? Call 202-347-2525, or, check us out at ysop.org.


STREETSENSEMEDIA.ORG

Each of us has a responsibility to help each other

Hug Me

BY JAMES GARTRELL Artist/Vendor

Hello Street Sense Media reading fans! And may I not forget my fellow staff members: editors, vendors, volunteers, management, and founders. This organization is exempt from what I’m about to tell you, because it provides me and others the opportunity to work. But too many places of business in this area do the opposite. They deny motivated people opportunities and neglect or ignore the poverties that exist among our many homeless neighbors and our many more poor and working class fellow D.C. residents. At present I am working in a computer lab that is helping me learn skills I need. There are others working and learning in this class with. These are people with a positive outlook, with plans to learn and earn their way out of poverty and pass on what they have learned as they move into society, to enlighten and motivate the communities they will live in. While these homeless people are thinking about how they can strengthen and support their communities. I don’t see enough communities thinking about how they can strengthen and support these homeless people. As I write this, I consider both the news on television and what I’ve experienced firsthand. All the local business that we as minorities used to own are now shutting us out. I’m not afraid to name a few I know to have neglected minorities by denying opportunities to and others I know or have met. Nando's restaurant, for one. I applied for a dishwashing position that was available at the time I walked through the door. I was given an interview on the spot and

did some work with no pay to show and prove myself. Yet despite my persistence, I was given the runaround. The manager said he didn’t have time to ask the other employer about me and my performance after three different days. Now, if I don’t meet the qualifications or don’t do a good job, that’s on me. And we can be honest about it. But if you give me a patronizing chance of getting the job, and ask me to work for free to qualify for that job, only to make up excuses and never give me a straight answer, that’s cowardly. This was demoralizing, but still persisted. I suspect Nando’s hired a person of a different skin tone. The same has happened to me with McDonald’s, KFC, Burger King and Wendy’s. The United States is supposed to be the land of the free. And you have to respect us minorities, especially our past fathers and grandfathers who built this country. We do what it takes to survive here, whether it's shining shoes, picking up groceries, selling, or whatever. As an African American, I know where I came from and I work hard to do the right thing and live right. I ask you all that read this newspaper… do you support restaurants that shy away from providing equal opportunities and deny support to people who want to work and help themselves? If you were hiring, would you respect men and women who are homeless that applied for your job? Life is very stressful and difficult to watch. It can be destroyed by nothing more than neglect. So, just making it from day to day, with the blessings of our Creator, is a gift of an opportunity to make the best of our time on this earth.

Looking for Work BY GWYNETTE SMITH // Artist/Vendor

I am looking for work. When I first came back to this city, I became discouraged; That was around 20 years ago. I was given a list of temporary jobs, but most of the phone numbers were out of service. It was necessary to apply online, but I didn’t realize it was sometimes possible to follow-up online and track employer responses. Many possible jobs slipped through my hands. After trying online businesses like Movie Matters (that didn’t take off), I found an opportunity marketing a line of clothes for children to Macy’s and other shops. But the business was out of state and the owner said I didn’t fill out the forms to get the commissions I should have. Poems of mine were published after I contacted an organization looking for work as a teacher. They referred me to a poetry group

and I was invited to send my poems out of town, but I didn’t go. There was no representation I would get my money for going. Later, I taught adult basic education, part-time, but broke my ankle and had to stop working. A couple of months after I was injured, I found out about Street Sense Media and was able to start selling the paper. This experience has added some financial stability to my life, but I do think about getting a regular job and not having to be an independent contractor with no benefits. I think I could find a job that pays minimum wage, which is now $15 an hour. I would work full or part time. I’d especially like this type of change if the work were interesting and had benefits. I have talked to three employers and two seemed especially positive. I want to follow through.

// 13

BY RONALD DUDLEY A.K.A. “POOKANU” Artist/Vendor

Rondald Dudley and his son. PHOTO COURTESY OF RONALD DUDLEY

Hug me, hug me You don't gotta like me You don't gotta love me.

She said I need to take a bath But i still made her laugh So she hug, me hug me

Hug me, hug me You think I'm ugly? Too afraid to touch me

I seen a dog get more love He got a kiss and a hug Hug me, hug me

Hug me, hug me You say I stink I'm too dirty to think

When my daughter got suspended Her teacher highly recommend That she hug me, hug me

Hug me, hug me If you only knew All the pain I been through You would hug me, hug me

I told her, “Don’t be breaking rules” Daddy almost lost his cool Until she hug me, hug me

I was chillin’ with my son When the Capitals won He just hug me, hug me Got me thinkin’’’ ‘bout his momma Before we ever had drama She use to hug me, hug me When ever I was bad After my grandma beat my ass She would hug, me hug me One of my friends beatin’’ cancer I told her God the answer Then she hug me, hug me When the voice in my head Said this world wanted me dead Somebody hug me, hug me What really brought me back to life Was when somebody hug me twice After they hug me, hug me You ain't gotta like me You ain't love me But please hug me, hug me Before you try to judge me You need to learn to trust me Hug me, hug me

I been working on a song I been writing all night long Hug me, hug me This world could be much better If we all just get along Hug me, hug me Now give your mother a hug Give your father a hug Give your sister a hug Now give your brother a hug Now give your grandma a hug Give your grandpa a hug Give aunty a hug Give your uncle a hug Now give your family a hug Your friends a hug Now give your cousin a hug Cause they wanna a thug Now remember to pray And to give your mom a thousand more Hugs for MOTHER'S DAY Hug me


1 4 // ST REET SEN S E

FUN & GAMES

Sudoku #8 7 1

6 5

3

7

8

scratch area

SUDOKU: Fill in the blank squares so that each row, each column and each 3-by-3 block contain all of the digits 1-9.

LAST EDITION’S PUZZLE SOLUTION >>

Sudoku #3 3 4 5 6 9 1 7 8 2 2 6 8 7 3 4 9 5 1 7 1 9 5 2 8 3 6 4 Super-Tough Sudoku by KrazyDad, Volume 1, Book 1 6 9 3 1 7 2 5 4 8 4 8 2 9 6 5 1 3 7 1 5 7 4 8 3 2 9 6 8 7 4 2 5 9 6 1 3 5 2 1 3 4 6 8 7 9 9 3 6 8 1 7 4 2 5

5

7 9 9

Sudoku #5 5 7 4 9 8 1 3 7 2 9 6 5 7 3 5 4 9 4 8 6 6 2 1 8

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7 2

3 1 6 8 2 6 4 9 8 4 7 3 1 2 9 6 5 3 1 2 7 9 3 5 1 5 9 3 4 8 2 7 4 6 7 2 9 5 8 1 3 8 2 1 6 7 5 4

8

5 3

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3 4 2 8 1 5 7 6 6 9 7 4 2 3 8 1 5 4 2 5 7 1 8 6 9 3 1 8 3 6 9 5 4 2 7 9

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2 5 1 8

7 4 6 3 9

4 9

© 2013 KrazyDad.com

Sudoku #7 6 9 8 2 7 1 5 9 4 3 2 7 3 6 1 5 5 8 4 1 2 7 9 4 9 5 7 8 1 2 6 3 8 4 3 6

5

6 8

2 7

3 1

4 9

3 1 3 8 4 1 9 6 9 4 7 6 2 9 8 1 5 2 6 3 5 7 8 7 5 2 4

7 2

5 8

3 6

4 9 1

KrazyDad's puzzle website is maintained with the help of your generous donations. Give online at http://krazydad.com Or by mail: Krazydad, P.O. Box 303 Sun Valley, CA 91353 USA Thank you!

4

1 6 7 4 9 3 5 2 8 3 7 2 5 4 1 9 8 6 6 4 9 3 8 2 7 5 1 ME DI A / / MAY 1 5 - 2 8 , 2019 5 8 1 6 7 9 4 3 2

Sudoku #4 3 6 5 1 1 2 4 9 7 8 9 6 4 9 7 3 6 3 2 4 8 5 1 7 9 4 8 5 2 1 6 8 5 7 3 2

4

8 3 5 9 2 6 7 1

2 9 8 7 3 5 5 1 2 8 2 6 1 8 7 6 4 3 3 7 1 4 5 9 9 6 4

7 6

4 1

5 9

2 3 8

Sudoku #6 8 5 9 6 7 2 4 1 3 1 3 6 4 8 9 2 5 7 4 2 7 3 5 1 8 9 6 PHOTO BY ANTHONY CARNEY, ARTIST/VENDOR 3 1 5 2 4 8 6 7 9 6 7 2 1 9 5 3 4 8 9 8 4 7 3 6 5 2 1 BY ANTHONY CARNEY 5 9 3 8 2 7 1 6 4 Artist/Vendor 2 6 8 9 1 4 7 3 5 Treasure Trove is7 closing! 4 1 The 6 3 9at 1305 5 landmark 8 2G Street

Farewell, my treasure

NW opened in 1946. I've been going there since I was 16 years old. I bought my high school sweetheart — my first love — a bracelet with hearts Sudoku #8 on it from there. I've bought several rings for myself over the years, too. 7 1 9 3 4 5 8 6 2 I'm sad the store is closing. Mr. Mark, the owner, is 5 4will8 close 6 sometime 1 7 9 this3 month. retiring. He says 2his store But he is no such8 thing. 3 6Once7 Treasure 4 5 closes, 1 Mr. 9 2 Trove Mark will be at Benson Jewelry at 1331 F St NW. He'll 9 6 1 5 3 4 2 8 7 have a money exchange business, where you can trade 7 9 1dollars, 6 as the 8 5 as3well foreign currency4 for2 American reverse. I'm glad 5about that. 8 3 6 2 7 9 1 4 Always remember, spread the love!

1 9 2 4 5 3 6 7 8 6 4 8 1 7 9 3 2 5 3 7 5 2 8 6 1 4 9

Adjusting to community BY RONALD SMOOT Artist/Vendor

I've been home for four months! And I've accomplished most of the things I had to do: a new ID, replacing my birth certificate, a new Social Security card, and getting other documents. I keep all my mental health, medical, and housing appointments. I take it one day at a time. My main goal is to get off probation in two years so I can get the rest of my life back together. My mental health team is sending me to RSA rehabilitation for employment, which I hope helps me land a job. I need a job to help me achieve my goals. I also need to obtain my drivers license so I can save transportation money. I also want to become an individual entrepreneur. None of this will happen without maintaining my sobriety. That is an absolute must, and I've been doing it. So I feel more positive and more confident about myself.

Author Gene Weingarten is a college dropout and a nationally syndicated humor columnist for The Washington Post. Author Dan Weingarten is a former college dropout and a current college student majoring in information technology. Many thanks to Gene Weingarten and The Washington Post Writers Group for allowing Street Sense to run Barney & Clyde.


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COMMUNITY SERVICES

SHELTER HOTLINE Línea directa de alojamiento

(202) 399-7093

YOUTH HOTLINE Línea de juventud

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HOTLINE Línea directa de violencia doméstica

(202) 547-7777

Education Educación

Health Care Seguro

Clothing Ropa

Legal Assistance Assistencia Legal

Case Management Coordinación de Servicios

Food Comida

Employment Assistance Assitencia con Empleo

Transportation Transportación

Showers Duchas

All services listed are referral-free Academy of Hope Public Charter School 202-269-6623 // 2315 18th Place NE aohdc.org

Bread for the City 202-265-2400 (NW) // 561-8587 (SE) 1525 7th St., NW // 1640 Good Hope Rd., SE breadforthecity.org

Calvary Women’s Services // 202-678-2341 1217 Good Hope Rd., SE calvaryservices.org

Catholic Charities // 202-772-4300 catholiccharitiesdc.org/gethelp

Central Union Mission // 202-745-7118 65 Massachusetts Ave., NW missiondc.org

Charlie’s Place // 202-232-3066 1830 Connecticut Ave., NW charliesplacedc.org

Christ House // 202-328-1100 1717 Columbia Rd., NW christhouse.org

Father McKenna Center // 202-842-1112 19 Eye St., NW fathermckennacenter.org

Food and Friends // 202-269-2277 219 Riggs Rd., NE foodandfriends.org (home delivery for those suffering from HIV, cancer, etc)

Foundry Methodist Church // 202-332-4010 1500 16th St., NW ID (Friday 9am–12pm only) foundryumc.org/ministry-opportunities

Friendship Place // 202-364-1419 4713 Wisconsin Ave., NW friendshipplace.org

Georgetown Ministry Center // 202-338-8301 1041 Wisconsin Ave., NW georgetownministrycenter.org

Jobs Have Priority // 202-544-9128 425 2nd St., NW jobshavepriority.org

Loaves & Fishes // 202-232-0900 1525 Newton St., NW loavesandfishesdc.org

Church of the Pilgrims // 202-387-6612 2201 P St., NW food (1-1:30 on Sundays only) churchofthepilgrims.org/outreach

Martha’s Table // 202-328-6608 2114 14th St., NW marthastable.org

Community Family Life Services 202-347-0511 // 305 E St., NW cflsdc.org

Miriam’s Kitchen // 202-452-8926 2401 Virginia Ave., NW miriamskitchen.org

Community of Hope // 202-232-7356 communityofhopedc.org

Covenant House Washington 202-610-9600 // 2001 Mississippi Ave., SE covenanthousedc.org

D.C. Coalition for the Homeless 202-347-8870 // 1234 Massachusetts Ave., NW dccfh.org

BEHAVIORAL HEALTH HOTLINE Línea de salud del comportamiento

1-800-799-7233

Housing/Shelter Vivienda/alojamiento

1-888-793-4357 Laundry Lavandería

Patricia Handy Place for Women 202-733-5378 // 810 5th St., NW

Samaritan Inns // 202-667-8831 2523 14th St., NW samaritaninns.org

Samaritan Ministry 202-722-2280 // 1516 Hamilton St., NW // 202-889-7702 // 1345 U St., SE samaritanministry.org

Sasha Bruce Youthwork // 202-675-9340 741 8th St., SE sashabruce.org

So Others Might Eat (SOME) // 202-797-8806 71 O St., NW some.org

St. Luke’s Mission Center // 202-333-4949 3655 Calvert St., NW stlukesmissioncenter.org

Thrive DC // 202-737-9311 1525 Newton St., NW thrivedc.org

Unity Health Care // 202-745-4300 3020 14th St., NW unityhealthcare.org

Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless 1200 U St., NW // 202-328-5500 legalclinic.org

The Welcome Table // 202-347-2635 1317 G St., NW epiphanydc.org/thewelcometable

My Sister’s Place // 202-529-5991 (24-hr hotline) mysistersplacedc.org

N Street Village // 202-939-2060 1333 N St., NW nstreetvillage.org

New York Avenue Shelter // 202-832-2359 1355-57 New York Ave., NE

// 15

Whitman-Walker Health 1701 14th St., NW // 202-745-7000 2301 MLK Jr. Ave., SE // 202-797-3567 whitman-walker.org

For further information and listings, visit our online service guide at StreetSenseMedia.org/service-guide service-guide

HELP! WE’RE LOOKING FOR

volunteers Paper Sales This position requires keeping our vendors supplied with the Street Sense Media newspaper in a timely and efficient manner. Paper sales volunteers work one 4-hour shift per week selling the paper to our vendors at a wholesale price, who then go out and sell the paper to the public. Each person runs their own sales business, which enables them to have an income. This position provides a great opportunity to get to know the vendors on a personal level as well as provide a much-needed service in our office. Volunteers must be available for at least one shift Monday through Friday, either 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. or 1 p.m. - 5 p.m. Volunteers are needed as soon as possible for the following shifts: • Mondays, 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. • Wednesdays, 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. • Thursdays, 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. • Fridays, 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. To get involved, contact our Sales Manager, Jeff Gray jeff@streetsensemedia.org (202) 347-2006 x 15


Unspoken demands of shelter life BY REGINALD BLACK // Artist/Vendor

When people are reliant on shelter, I believe there are a lot of disconnects. First off, shelters are for emergencies and should not become home for those who are in need. One of the first things you learn is the hours of operation: the shelter closes each morning and people don’t have a place to be. Many don’t understand or care about anything when it is time to clock out. But poverty and homelessness don’t clock out. It’s like I’m at work, even when I can no longer stay awake. I don’t get “time off” or “a home life,” as you would say. People are working where I am currently living. People have lost their lives there or have suffered some form of violence, whether verbal or physical. Some could say I should be grateful to have a bed. But that’s an “I don’t care, I can’t wait to get off the clock” attitude. It doesn’t help the homeless at all. Poverty doesn’t care what you do or don’t have. No one deserves or chooses to be displaced. Relying on shelter, in some ways, gives power and control to some who should not have it. The conditions in shelter are created by the culture of people in power. Their culture is not my life. But I can’t get away from homelessness or needing shelter without donations or money. “While homeless” is a new concept but not a new experience. Imagine having to be professional all the time. Homeless people even have to sleep professionally. You can’t sleep in your drawers: the rules say you must be fully clothed at all times. Do you see how difficult just this one rule is? You take

your clothes to the shower with you, you can’t lay them on your bed. You must wear your shirt and pants. Why? You’re living like you’re in college somewhere: a dorm with up to 60 people. The significant difference is, those people are segmented into multiple floors or smaller rooms, maybe with four beds or a shared bathroom for half a floor of residents. You don’t get any such privacy in the shelter. You sleep communally. You shower communally. You use the restroom communally. There is always someone there. It’s a small space with a lot of folks with different attitudes, including staff members. Night-to-night stabilization is the only norm. You spend half the night awake trying to figure out how not to come back, only to have to return to a safe spot to sleep, sometimes as early as 2 p.m., depending on the specific shelter. Then you wait in line and hope for a placement. While you wait, you’re often handed forms, whether it be required intake paperwork or optional feedback surveys aiming to assess how the District spends money on the resources you are using. Whatever it is, you feel like your bed depends on it. We value money too much. Not having enough money even determines who you talk to and what you talk about. “Normal” interactions take the form of professional street talk and mannerisms. In other words: constant stress and self-monitoring. How can I function, really, under this guise of professionality? It takes so much effort and time that other needs come last. Try needing a breathing machine and only having access to a plug if you go to a warehouse designed for sleep four months out of the year. It’s not as easy as some of us make it look. It really isn’t. You’re on call 24/7 with no holidays, weekends or sick days. While our neighbors experience poverty, we can’t just shut down or clock out. These people need 24/7 support. Nothing available to us now comes with dignity or privacy. Homelessness means that after you leave, I’m still suffering. Recognize and remember that. It’s the only way to show empathy. It’s everyone’s job to end homelessness.

A mural at the Communty for Creative Non-Violence by artist Rose Jaffe, completed in May 2016. It features portraits of several of the current residents and staffers at the shelter in vibrant color, as well as the well-known late activist and resident, Mitch Snyder. The crowds at the bottom of the mural hold signs with phrases such as “We are stronger together” and “Homeless Lives Matter.” FILE PHOTO BY BENJAMIN BURGESS, WWW.KSTREETPHOTOGRAPHYDC.COM/

Living in shelters

BY JENNIFER MCLAUGHLIN // Artist/Vendor

Having lived in several shelters in D.C., I get pretty sick not having a window open and not breathing fresh air. When I was going through domestic violence, I was staying in the John L. Young shelter. The first night I noticed that the ceiling was leaking water. I thought to myself, “How did this happen? Was it years of neglect?” The water was so bad that eventually they had to use buckets to catch it. I later found out that a pipe in the bathroom had broken. I guess that was the cause of the leak. Eventually, the shelter closed. Residents were moved from both John L. Young and Open Door shelters that were located in the Community for Creative Non-Violence building at 2nd and D streets to the new Patricia Handy Place for Women that opened in Chinatown in 2016. I think the D.C. government cares about the shelter situation. The mayor’s 5-year plan calls for more new facilities like Pat Handy. But in the meantime, proper maintenance of the existing buildings is still important for the health and dignity of those of us who depend on shelter now.

THE EPIPHANY POWER HOUR The Epiphany Power Hour is a weekly series of free lunchtime conversations focused on social justice issues, featuring leaders with actionable ideas for shifting the balance of power in our community. Refreshments provided. The events are free, but goodwill donations are welcome. See you at 12:10 on Thursdays!

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