City Desk

Fenty’s Gifts To Homeless Families: Mold, Peeling Paint, Rib Patties, And Overcrowding

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D.C. General, the city's long-shuttered hospital of last resort, is one facility that's used to being overused. In its pre-gentrification heyday, its emergency room swelled with indigent residents in need of care.

Though it's no longer providing ER services, things have scarcely changed at D.C. General, which now serves as a shelter for homeless D.C. families. Maximum capacity, say D.C. officials, is 135 families.

By early January, there were more than 100 families in residence. On Feb. 4, there were 163 —double the number of families from the same date last year.

On March 4, the District reached a troubling milestone. There were now 200 families taking up residence at D.C. General. That day, there were a total of 851 residents, including 400 children. The influx should hardly surprise officialdom, considering that as of late October,there were more than 400 homeless families on a waiting list for services.

Welcoming upwards of 60 families beyond capacity has strained the temporary digs. Shelter residents sleep on cots in hallways and in activity rooms, guarding their privacy via walls of bedsheets. The lucky ones get private rooms, some of which don't have functioning heaters.

"Atrocious," says Khristine Buchanan, 23, of her living conditions at the old hospital. Last night, she lingered at the building's entrance doing her best impression of an OSHA inspector. She says mold and peeling paint embroider the stairwell, roaches and mice share the sleeping quarters, and the one elevator often goes out of service.

Buchanan moved in on Feb. 6 with her husband and young child. They took up residence in a 4th floor activity room, sharing space with two other families. "It was crazy," she says. Her husband and son got rashes from bugs she thinks were "silver fish."

When Buchanan noticed two mice in traps under a heater, she complained enough that her family was moved into its own room a few days ago. They had lived in the activity room for more than a month.

Other residents describe similar conditions–a near chaotic place overcrowded with families and their belongings spilling from trash bags. One described some of the private rooms as replete with trash and clothes, and pot being smoked at the building's entrance.

Rainda Brown, 34, complains about the mold in the stairwell, and says that the heat does not work in the private room she shares with her daughter. They've had to double up on blankets at night.

A medical volunteer with Georgetown University says respiratory problems are the most common ailment among residents he's treated.

Tonya West, 40, moved into an activity room two days ago. She shares it with 18 other people. "It's all females in the room I'm in," she explains. "All of us got little babies." West says there's often no food prepared, especially for infants.

The food isn't much more suitable for adults, residents say. One night dinner was cereal. A typical dinner is something District authorities call a "rib patty" which Buchanan says is hamburger meat coated in BBQ sauce. "I feel like you're in jail," she says. "It's jail food."

Councilmember Tommy Wells, who chairs the Committee on Human Services, says he toured D.C. General during the historic snowfalls of early February. "I saw mold and ceiling damage was in the stairwells," he says. "I did not see it in any of the units where the families are living." He also heard complaints about there not being suitable food for infants, plumbing problems, and concerns over cleanliness.

Wells says of the facility: "It seems what was going on there was controlled chaos. There's nobody that would want to be there... There's nothing good about being at D.C. General."

Wells added: "It's not where I'd want my family to go."

Nor was the last place that the city used to accommodate homeless families. On Oct. 22, 2007, Mayor Adrian M. Fenty announced that he would be closing down DC Village, an abandoned nursing home that had been converted to a family shelter.

In a press release titled "Closure of DC Village Gives Way To Best Practices," the mayor's office railed against warehousing the destitute in crumbling, infamous buildings.

"DC Village residents have complained about the poor living conditions for years including overcrowding, poor food quality and inadequate heating and cooling resources. Persistent problems with mice, roaches and bedbugs have been difficult to control and have long plagued the families as well.

'One of our first major steps in changing the delivery of homeless services is the transformation of our family shelter system,' said Mayor Fenty.  'In the past we have accommodated families in emergency shelters where the conditions are not only unacceptable, but do not enable them to move beyond homelessness.'

Congregate settings, such as the model at DC Village have been shown to maintain people in environments where it is extremely difficult for them to address the issues that underlie their homelessness."

At the time, City Desk wrote the closing of DC Village was good news. No one could disagree that the place needed to be shuttered. But no one knew that Fenty was just going to move the city's most vulnerable to another hellhole.

Wells says that he recently had a meeting with Clarence Carter, the director of the city's Department of Human Services. Carter assured him that "at least 50 families" would be moved to apartments by this Friday.

Yesterday, there were 195 families at D.C. General. Before she went inside for dinner, Buchanan had some advice for any family thinking of moving in: "Make this your last and only last choice."

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  • downtown rez

    Exactly so, worker.

  • bostonjay

    in reference to D:
    "You seem to think that things happen "by chance" and let me tell you, most often, they don't at all. They start with people deciding not to work hard to get a college scholarship."
    get a college SCHOLARSHIP??? what? again, more people expecting to get something handed to them. if you want something, you work towards it, scholarship or not. you may be loaned out of your mind after school, but that's life. expecting a handout because you can shoot hoops or live on the wrong side of tracks is ludicris. and i'm talking stupidity, not the rapper.

  • bostonjay

    but on a happier note, the onion article made me smile.

  • Anonymous

    "You can't register to vote if you can't prove DC residency, right?"

    This is the People's Republic of the District of Columbia, not the Commonwealth of Virginia. If you are homeless in DC and have no fixed address, you can submit a provisional ballot which is certified later, for all elections.

  • Anonymous

    "and i'm talking stupidity, not the rapper."

    Then you would be spelling it "ludicrous" not "ludicris."

    College isn't all that. Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard after one year. Warren Buffett (billionaire owner of Bershire-Hathaway) never went to college. Richard Branson (billionaire developer and owner of the Virgin brand) never went to college.

    It's love of learning and discovery that's the key and it's not going be unlocked in a city that has an abysmal literacy rate and is still a colony of the US govt.

  • downtown rez

    @Anon comment posted 5:16
    According to the most recent census figures the average high school graduate earns only 60% of what someone with bachelors degree does.
    Exceptions of course exist, but by definition most people are not exceptional.

  • noodlez

    THEY ARE HOMELESS. THERE ARE HOMELESS FOLK IN THIS CITY. HOMELESS FOLK ARE PEOPLE TOO! OKAY WE GET THAT.

    BUT THE FACT OF THE MATTER REMAINS THAT THE BITCH BOY MAYOR ALLOWS FOLKS TO STAY IN A DC GOVERNMENT FACILITY THAT WOULD NOT PASS A HOUSING OR BUILDING INSPECTION.

    WHERE IS D.C.R.A. ON THIS? THE DC GOVERNMENT SHOULD BE PULLED IN TO COURT TO EXPLAIN THE DEPLORABLE CONDITIONS.

    WILL SOMEONE IN THE DC GOVERNMENT PLEASE SHOW SOME LEADERSHIP! A CALL TO THE LARGEST MINORITY FOOD CONTRACTOR THAT PROVIDES DC SCHOOL LUNCHES FOR MILLIONS OF DOLLARS COULD SEND SOME MEALS TO THEM FOLKS.

    HIS TERM REMINDS ME OF THE MOVIE-VACATION. FENTY IS PULLING SOME CLARK GRISWOLD ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL TYPE SHIT. LETS NOT FORGET THE CONSTANT FUCK-UPS AND NON-EXCUSES!

  • B

    I love the idea that poster suggested above- the homeless people in shelters are as connected and monied as Bill Gates and Warren Buffet.

  • Adrian Bent-Me

    BostonJay seems to be bitter at poor folks. I'm glad you're life is great and has enabled you thus far to be such a well-to-do racist. You ass-clowns thinks things are easy or simple or available to folks when in reality they aren't. In the District, we have the worst public school system in the Country. We have the highest poverty rate for a large metropolitan city. We also have the highest number of residents with Bachelors degree (but there is a huge gap in who gets these- 90% of white residents have bachelors in DC while only 30% of minorities do). Whatever the fuck you clowns want to argue that its the individual and not the system, then how do you explain this blaring disparity. If you believe that all minorities are lazy, incompetent, or simply don't want to work, then maybe this proves it. I don't believe it, but convincing an asshole like BostonJay or others is nearly an impossible task.

    Whaddup Noodlez- you limp-dick basturd. Not a lot to argue with you about today.

  • DC Hoodrat

    *sigh* The pervasive sense of entitlement among DC niggas is the cause for the overcrowding of a ragged old hospital.

    Niggas here believe that for some reason, doing NOTHING absolutely affords you the right to receive everything. I worked as a social worker and a case manager for many of the families who reside in the Shelter and unfortunately, not many of them care enough about themselves or their children to want to do better.

    Grown men live in that place with women that their fucking and the womeen breed children like roaches who are only afterthoughts and bargaining chips for housing. Add to that the mantra of DC, "GUB'MENT CAN SOLVE ALL PROBLEMS" and what you have is an entire generation of trifling ass niggas who only function as cum stains on the sheet of life.

    Quantaviana will have 5 kids and have all of them diagnosed with some sort of LD so she can get SSI checks forr them because DC has the HIGHEST rate of people receiving entitlement benefits.

    You people can rationalize, excuse, philosophise, and come up with all types of reasons that DC General is DC's fault. I have worked with these people and I can tell you, firsthand that they are ingrates and chronic needers. They are the problem and DC is an enabler.

    Seriously, if you are living in a shelter and you can't take care of child #1, 2, or 3, why have child 4,5,6,7. Why live with a sorry ass nigga who doesn't even have enough gumption to take care of his own damn bastard children?

    Once again, niggas are 1st place at the very worst of some social ill.

  • downtown rez

    Wow.
    What a productive conversation this is. Really makes me proud. Not.
    I'm imagining a bunch of people here would do better if they led by example and lived the change you expect to see from others.
    drez out

  • bostonjay

    Adrian-i'm not bitter at poor folks. I grew up pretty damn po. I watched my married parents who were low blue collar workers struggle for years. it was not pretty-but i learned to provide for myself-no one was going to help me or us. so if that meant working 3 jobs while in high school to provide for my family, i did it. and no one was giving scholarships for 17 year olds that bagged groceries after school, flipped burgers at night, and did both all weekend, all while trying to keep an a- average.
    what i'm bitter at is the entitlement. social services should be a safety net, not a goal. the attitude of 'i don't need to because someone else will' is so backwards and wrong, but perpetuated all the same.
    life is about choice. even if you don't make the choice that gets you where you are, you still have choices to make. you don't keep having kids if you can't afford the one you have. you don't start drugging out because you can't handle your realituy. you don't pretend that everything is gonna be taken care of by the man when you don't man up yourself.
    call me racist, elitist, snob, asshole-whatever. but i know everything i have i worked for and made responsible choices for.
    and ps- i AM a minority.

  • Ward 6 voter

    The problem is not Fenty. The problem is a lack of serious Council oversight of the homeless problem.

    When you put old line liberal Tommy Wells in charge of oversight through his Committee on Human Services, you can be sure he will do nothing. Wells might take a trip to check on something when pressed by outsiders. He might even have a hearing. Rest assured though that his staff will do nothing while Wells continues to play as a council member and collect a pay check and council perks.

    Everytime you put more money in your parking meters, pay an extra 5 cents on a bag to save the Anacostia River, and may well pay more for permits on your second car, think of Wells. At best he is a man with dumb ideas and little regard for DC residents.

  • Adrian Bent-Me

    Hoodrat- I feel the need to respond even though you'll never listen to a person like me. Yes, I'm a bleeding heart. But I would be as sympathetic to low-income whites living in rural America (who by the way are the poorest demographic in the country- explain this one buddy since race ain't a factor here) as I do for the poor residents of the District, who happened to be Black.

    The entitlement issue isn't bred into anyone's DNA but its been instilled in them for generations of forced dependency. Policies- dating as far back to Slavery and as recently as subprime lending and payday loan schemes- have failed these people, generation after generation.

    Also, go fuck yourself you racist prick.

  • Typical DC BS

    @Anonymous #52, FYI - Warren Buffet earned a college degree, as well as a masters degree. He attended the Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania from 1947-49, then continued his education at University of Nebraska-Lincoln, graduating with a Bachelors of Science in Economics in 1950. Buffett then received a Masters of Science degree in Economics from Columbia University in NY in 1951.

  • D

    Adrian,

    Would you agree though that cultures coming up out of the south have a lousy work ethic that contributes to the trailer park as well as the city housing project?

  • DC Hoodrat

    Adrian,

    I'm black. I can't be racist, hence the reason I use the word nigga do freely and effortlessly.

    You're not a bleeding heart; that title is reserved for white liberals who do what they do for por niggas out of white guilt. DC breeds a sense of entitlement and you being the piece of shit that you are, with each comment you make illustarte that point beautifully.

    Those niggas wouldn't be homeless if they didn't approach life with an open palm and a 'gimmie" attitude.

  • Truth hurts

    DC Hoodrat: Your post is offensive and ignorant. Blacks, whites, latinos, asians and every one else can be, and are, racists when they stereotype and assign negative traits to others based solely upon race. It's simply wrong, no matter who does it.

  • DC Hoodrat

    Truth hurts, huh? Stereotypes have some factual basis. And Niggas will always be niggas. Clearly you are unaware of the the technical definition of racism.

    Why don't you go visit DC General and see for yourself?

  • sedcdude

    @ IGNACIO

    I hear you ASS AY'!!

    I just copied this from an urban blog which was filled with pro-latino bullshit..........

    "thats why u dnt fuk with mexicans, blacks just have a loud mouth thats it real talk and whites are just fukin the biggest p u s s y s on this earth,and try so hard to make a name for themselves,and for all you ho ass nig gers and crackers would dare call him a wet back or spick to his face cuz he would set yo bitchass on fire to lmmfao stay out of our way and dnt be suprised when the colors of the american flag go from red white and blue,to red white and green hahahahahahaa we takin over 1 city at a time"!!!
    -------------------
    Now this ignorant summbitch can't even spell correctly, but I guarantee he knows all about gunplay and knives!! Just like women snuck in (feminists) and da gays are taking over, who will protect you limp wristed liberals when it gets on and poppin'???

    Don't burn your bridges, SKIPPY, JERKIS, RICKY "MANSPUNK" and all you fake ass bigoted/do-gooders!!

  • sedcdude

    Noodlez I see you holding it down in here!

    Seems as though only a "select" few are allowed to keep it FAKE on WCP, LMBAO!!

    "Life is short, Break the rules, Forgive quickly, Kiss slowly, Love truly, Laugh uncontrollably and never regret anything that made you smile"

    THIS IS HOW IT SHOULD BE!

    "There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves" - Will Rogers

    THIS IS WHAT'S HAPPENIN'!!!

    "Either the United States will destroy ignorance, or ignorance will destroy the United States"– W.E.B. DuBois

    WHERE WE'RE GOING with all this fake ass, liberal, RACIST, POLITICAL CORRECT bullshit!!

    Scared, say you're scared and enjoy the weekend!

  • sedcdude

    Aahhhh, DC Hoodrat, another BLACK ABOMINATION!!!

    Blame the victim!!

    This shit is what it is, from Lyndon B. Johson, Reagans WAR ON DRUGS and BUSH'S NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND, WE all are at fault!

    Your monkey ass feelin' all self convictin', UNCLE TOMMISH and SELF RIGHTEOUS, GTFOH!!!!!

    Last time I checked, we were not a monolith and ys INDIVIDUALS need to be accountable but what about A PEOPLE ACCOUNTIBLE FOR SELF! You uppity niggers and you liberal WHITEYS make me sick with this shit! Stop observing and start RESERVING the right to change! Clowns on here offering up name and "info" after the damage is done, GTFOH!!

    Fuck all this rappin', here YA'LL GO....www.goodfaithclause.com

  • black jack

    Aahhhh, DC Hoodrat, another BLACK ABOMINATION!!!

    Blame the victim!!

    This crap is what it is, from Lyndon B. Johson, Reagan, Bush Sr.'s WAR ON DRUGS and BUSH'S NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND, WE are ALL at fault!

    Your monkey ass feelin' all self convictin', UNCLE TOMMISH and SELF RIGHTEOUS, GTFOH!!!!!

    YOU prolly maskin' da whiteness abou'chu!!!

    Last time I checked, we were not a monolith and ys INDIVIDUALS need to be accountable but what about A PEOPLE ACCOUNTIBLE FOR SELF! You uppity niggers and you liberal WHITEYS make me sick with this shit! Stop observing and start RESERVING the right to change! Clowns on here offering up name and "info" after the damage is done, GTFOH!!

    To HELL with all this rappin', here YA'LL GO....www.goodfaithclause.com

  • black jack

    MODERATE THAT....WCP!!

  • downtown rez

    Blah Blah Blah.

  • saveDAbay

    Aahhhh, DC Hood Rat, another BLACK (questionable) ABOMINATION!!!

    Blame the victim!!

    This crap is what it is, from Lyndon B. Johson, Reagan, Bush Sr.'s WAR ON DRUGS and BUSH'S NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND, WE are ALL at fault!

    Your monkey ass feelin' all self convictin', UNCLE TOMMISH and SELF RIGHTEOUS, GTFOH!!!!!

    YOU prolly maskin' da whiteness abou'chu!!!

    Last time I checked, we were not a monolith and ys INDIVIDUALS need to be accountable but what about A PEOPLE ACCOUNTIBLE FOR SELF! You uppity nigg@rs and you liberal WHITEYS make me sick with this shit! Stop observing and start RESERVING the right to change! Clowns on here offering up name and "info" after the damage is done, GTFOH!!

    To HELL with all this rappin', here YA'LL GO....wwwDOTgoodfaithclauseDOTcom

  • saveDAbay

    AND "Adrian BKA WHITEY bent-me over and over and over AGAIN,

    You are no better!! An utter and complete UNCLE TOM, 2010 MAKE AND MODEL!!

    You have some nerve, "have failed these people", WHEN your Uncle Rawkus Ass is a paycheck from poverty and a mistake away from suicide, YOU PEOPLE GOT DA' GAME ALL DA' WAY FUCKED UP, and to think you believe the crap that you post, UNBELIEVABLE!!!!

    Drez, you already know, you are worthless, irrelevant and a fraud!!

    Blah blah blah that! CLOWN!

  • downtown rez

    Shorter saveDAbay:
    Blah blah no one is black unlessI say so blah...
    What a joke.

  • DC Hoodrat

    SaveDaBay,

    DC Niggalosophy doesn't work on me. I am impervious to your attacks, but you mention an interesting point.

    You consider grown men and women who breed children like roaches, that they cannot rear or financially support to be victims... right?

    Perhaps they should spend more time getting GEDs, jobs, and self respect than they spend BEGGING.

    Fuck them and you. DC could house all of those sorry ass dgenerates and a year later they would still be trifling ass hell.

    I don't owe them shit... niether does DC. Since DC General is right next to the jail, let's get these knuckle-dragging crumbsnatchers 3 hots and a cot until they decide to become productive citizens.

  • downtown rez

    It's the kids that are the victims.
    They loose that status when they grow up ignorant and create new victims of their own.
    Because someone has to be the self-sacrificing adult.

  • saveDAbay

    Dc Rat

    I don't know if there's much difference in either a NY rat, sewer rat DC rat or a pet rat, less say for a hand to mouth feeding exception, I think it safe to say IT'S STILL A RAT!!

    Your self proclaimed RAT title is quite deservent, considering how YOU exclude yourself from any responsibility but other than to come to WCP and make a complete fool and mockery of yourself and downtrodden homeless on a bigoted blog! Yeah, that's gangster!!!!

    What you describe does not "represent" or reflect all the homeless over at DC General! Your dumbass wouldn't know an "attack" from an INVITATION and with that said your generalization is unwarranted and unwelcomed, so FUCK YOU and we don't owe you shit, nor want to read your opinions, generalizations, self hate or bullshit, especially coming from a fukkin' RAT!

    Do something about it other then to "bitch" , complain or mudsling on a blog about something WE all know is and was by design! You can continue to "blame the victim" all you want, but there will come a time when your blame shall turn into a cry for help, mercy or forgiveness, bitch! Life has a way of showing you better than it can tell you!!

    BTW, next time you get hungry, eat some rat poisoning!

  • DC Hoodrat

    SaveDa,

    DC General is exactly as I describe it. Bastard child producing shitheads who are too fucking sorry to be helped.

    Perhaps rat poisoning is the answer... for those breeding do-nothings.

    I don't owe them shit and the only thing I need to do is make sure that I keep making enough money to NEVER have to live around niggas.

    I love black people, but NIGGAS get on my fucking nerves and I hope to God that they kill each other off - soon.

  • saveDAbay

    I love black people, but NIGGAS get on my fucking nerves and I hope to God that they kill each other off - soon
    ----------
    I AGREE, but it's a way, a will and a time to do shit and WCP blogs ain't it!

  • Adrian Bent-Me

    Save and Hoodrat- You two ass clowns deserve each others. You little bitches can't even begin to understand how this stuff works or more so in this case, does not work, because you're the ones that feel entitled. You rage against others because you feel they've been given somthing and that are lazy or ignorant or both. Fuck you two, you racist twits.

    I don't mind being called an uncle Tom but I really don't know if you idiots know what the fuck an "Uncle Tom" is. You're implying that I sold old by giving in to the system while I'm here complaining about the damn system. I guess a little education might have allowed you two to know this, but ignorance and stupidity prevails in your twisted little worlds. And please make as much money as you all can and never live around me, cause me and my kind don't want your asses around us anyhow- you bitches.

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  • DC Hoodrat

    Adrian,

    Please don't lump me with save. I never called you anything and I seriously don't give a fuck about you and your bleeding heart nigga shit.

    BTW, NOW I'm calling you a name. Invite all of those shiftless and lazy breeders to come live with you.

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  • Chynab

    DCHoodrat has got to be as ignorant as they come.You must come from poor stock and that's why your non-spelling ass is so bitter.BTW for some real info you dumb ass broad.I once was homeless three years ago in Montgomery County and, the majority of the homeless residence and drug addicts expecting entitlements just so happened to be white.So race has nothing to do with it.What I'd suggest to you is that you count your blessings and stop thinking that it can't happen to you.

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