City Desk

D.C. General Shelter: It’s All About The Oversight


At 10 a.m. tomorrow, Councilmember Tommy Wells will hold an oversight hearing focusing mainly on the allegations surrounding D.C. General's family shelter. The hearing may do nothing to save the nonprofit, Families Forward Inc., from losing its contract to manage the shelter. Wells has already stated that its contract will be terminated.

At the very least, the hearing will be the most public airing of the mismanagement found at D.C. General: Families Forward's firing of abusive workers, the slow case management services, the sexual harassment, the death of two newborns in the past two years, along with the mold and over-crowded conditions. City Desk has learned that the hearing is only going to be the first step towards a more intensive look at the shelter and its nonprofit provider.

Attorney General Peter Nickles is investigating the allegations that staff had sex with female residents. Today, the Department of Human Services' Fred Swan says that the Office of the Inspector General is also investigating the family shelter.

"We're looking at all this stuff," Swan says. "It's been handed off to the Inspection General"

Swan refused to comment about the investigation. When we asked about the two newborn deaths, Swan replied: "Of course that concerns us. The fact that anybody died at one of our shelter sites concerns us."

Swan refused to comment about the Department of Human Services' oversight into the family shelter. No one else connected with running D.C. General wanted to talk much either.

The Community Partnership for the Prevention of Homelessness, the organization that coordinates city services, refused to comment about its own oversight role.

Sanjor Reed, CEO of Nutrition Inc., the company contracted with providing meals at the shelter, also refused to comment. "They don't want me talking about anything," Reed said. She did add that she had not heard a single complaint about the shelter's food.

City Desk had interviewed two families that stated that they had to rush their children to the hospital due to food poisoning.

And finally, Families Forward Inc., refused comment. Orlando Harper, a program assistant scheduled to speak at tomorrow's hearing, expressed total ignorance concerning the two newborn deaths. Had he even heard about the deaths? "No sir, I didn't."

There may be a reason no one in authority feels compelled to discuss their oversight of D.C. General. There seems to have been no real oversight until now. The OIG had investigated Families Forward's conduct during the Banita Jacks case and found huge gaps in its case management services.

But last June, according to District records, the Department of Human Services not only gave Families Forward high marks for its case management but lauded the facility as well. The department's shelter monitoring unit wrote: "the condition of the facility was very clean, organized and well maintained."

DHS must have missed the mold and peeling paint. Or the mold and peeling paint suddenly became a problem a few months later:




The DHS monitor was just as thorough with residents. It only interviewed six families, according to the report.

The monitor also noted that Families Forward Inc. had conducted criminal background checks and drug testing of its employees. And that the staff had completed CPR training. There's no indication whether or not the monitor actually fact-checked the staff's assertions.

Not only did DHS not find mold or peeling paint, they noted that there was no evidence of rodent or insect infestation. The monitor did report that residents had complained of mice in their rooms.

The DHS monitor's conclusion: "The DC General Family Hypothermia/Emergency Shelter has adequately complied with the Common Standards and applicable additional standards by providing a temporary facility with meals, clean bedding, working showers, toilets and case management services."

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  • Rick Mangus

    At 10 am tomorrow the circus comes to town, there will be grandstanding politicians and assorted clowns! Watch in amazement as you will be mystified by lies and double speak! See how fast people can lie to save their jobs! See complacency unfold right before you're eyes!

    I should go down there and see if I can open up a concesion stand!

  • Ebony

    @ Rick, well you will be the clown we all come to see.

  • noodlez



  • NoMoreMold

    This is a terrible example of local gov't ignoring major mold and water-damage problems that lead to devastating health effects for hundreds of families. Even the CDC has proclaimed water-damaged buildings such as these, with mold, to be highly hazardous. Another location should be found for these families that is safe and healthy, immediately. has 2,000 articles on mold and health and related topics.

  • RMH

    I stayed at the DC General Families Forward shelter and then sent to Community of Hope where the same conditions existed just like at D.C. Village in 2006. Life was so abusive at each of the facilities, until I had to leave for the safety of my family and some false statement from the staff. I was approached by Ruth Schickle and the Crisis Mental Team, with a false report "someone stated hearing me say I was going to kill my 3 children and myself and I experienced 4 times a Police Officer coming to my unit, wanting to have sex with me" which I forgave him and also sent an email to Chief Lanier and the 3 Dist. Commander, because he would not stop trying to have sex with me (I'm afraid of getting a STD, I don't want any sex, abstain), Sgt. Jerome Merrill had me put in handcuffs and taken to the CPEP for evaluation, given medications, which was against my health to take, taken to United Medical Ctr., denied my medications for Emphysema, arthritis, etc.. I just got copies of some of the reports from UNC, but Ruth Schickle is giving me a hard way to get the copies from her. Ruth Schickle, Ms. S. Adams and Karen Gordon would make false incident reports to cover up the abuses to my family at COH, just as it was done at the Family Forwards and at D.C. Village (a good criminal ring of staff and select residents to carry out abuses to sick, weakly residents and abuse to children. For the safety of my now, 3 children (one I had to send south due to the lies and MYSPACE threats since MAY 09, Stg. Merrill has not given me an answer, but wish to talk), RE: the Columbia Hts Recreation staff and the children they cover in criminal actions, residents in the shelter and thru the community is A WELL ORGANIZED CRIME RING WHICH MUST BE THROUGHLY INVESTIGATED, AS WELL AS THE MENTAL HEALTH DEPT., which aid to residents being placed on medication to keep them quiet of the abuses or to FIGHT TO PROTECT THEIR CHILIDREN, WHICH MANY FIGHTS AT THE COL. HTS. REC. and how the Girard Street Crew members criminals assault the younger children (5-14) trying to make them a part of their crews on the street, the recreation Ctr. and the SHELTER. Shelter staff and residents somehow (?), cover up the abuses even to the schools, medical Dr., ETC.? CSFA I called to help me protect my children, as some was sending threats and verbal words of wanting to fight my children. I had to move, staying in one of the 2 bedrooms with 3 of my children, due to being placed for Mental Evaluations, the gas is off, the electric is near disconnection, the unit needs cleaning of dust, and trying to keep the kids allergies under control, as well as the children after much shelter abuses, on time for school and safe as they encounter abuses at school by the teacher and students and nearly being jumped by two boys as they travel to and from the bus stop to and from school. My Special Ed. child experienced so many abuses and set up school, shelter staff, shelter residents, and had to take a charge of one of the Crew members throwing bottles and rocks at the police car, beaten in the knee, locked up, etc. SHAME ON OUR GOVERNMENT AGENCIES, POLICE, ETC. FOR NOT DOING THEIR JOB, I HAD TO GO OUT INVESTIGATING, GOT THE TRUTH, NOTHING WAS DONE, BUT TO LOCK ME UP ON FALSE CHARGES ALSO.....

  • candi miles

    The mold and stuff could have contributed to the babies deaths!!

  • candi miles


    Sorry you went through that!!! Ask God to heal you and have nothing to do with any part of DC government, it's an evil entity filled with spineless idiots.

    God bless!