Housing Complex

Beyond Human Cost, D.C. Homelessness Comes With a Big Price Tag

Waldon Adams, left, testified alongside Miriam's Kitchen's Adam Rocap and the Advisory Board Company's Christopher Kerns.

Waldon Adams, left, testified alongside Miriam's Kitchen's Adam Rocap and the Advisory Board Company's Christopher Kerns.

Six years ago, Waldon Adams escaped from a nursing home with a catheter in his arm to score some crack. He was homeless and had AIDS, which was causing a host of health complications, most recently the heart condition that had landed him in the nursing home. He'd been in and out of hospitals, psychiatric wards, and housing programs that kept expelling him on suspicion of drug use.

Next month, Adams will celebrate six years of sobriety. He'll also run his 13th marathon; he credits running for providing stability in his once-unmoored life.

What happened in between? Adams got a type of housing that wouldn't kick him out. The increasingly popular "housing first" model places homeless residents into housing without any prerequisites. There's no need to pass a drug test, or get treated for mental health issues. Housing comes first; treatment comes later.

Adams credits the "lack of barriers" in his permanent supportive housing for getting him back on his feet. His apartment may have saved his life. It also saved the District a lot of money.

"People started talking about the cost to the District government, and I felt so bad," Adams said this morning on a panel at the John A. Wilson Building about how to end chronic homelessness. "I didn't realize I was causing all this damage. That's how I became an advocate."

According to an analysis of medical and housing data by the Advisory Board Company for the homeless services nonprofit Miriam's Kitchen, the 414 most vulnerable chronically homeless individuals in D.C. cost the city an average of $40,843 a year in emergency services. By contrast, permanent supportive housing costs just $22,500 a year.

"Managing chronic homelessness is very costly," said Adam Rocap, chief program officer at Miriam's Kitchen, on the panel. "Ending chronic homelessness is not only important for human reasons, but it makes financial sense."

Read more Beyond Human Cost, D.C. Homelessness Comes With a Big Price Tag

Bowser Keeps School-Boundary Changes Mostly Intact, With Two Tweaks

Bowser is making only modest changes to Gray's schools plan.

Bowser is making only modest changes to Gray's schools plan.

After criticizing her predecessor Vince Gray's plan to redraw school-assignment boundaries for exacerbating geographic inequality, Mayor Muriel Bowser has opted to keep that plan largely intact, making just two tweaks aimed at mitigating the effects of the changes.

Gray adopted a plan last August for the first comprehensive reworking of the school boundaries in more than 40 years. His plan would have streamlined the complex network of feeder patterns that have left well-regarded schools overcrowded while others have closed due to under-enrollment. But it also threatened to force some families to send their children to lower-performing schools, leading Bowser to pledge revisions in order to ensure that Rock Creek Park and the Anacostia River wouldn't become more entrenched dividing lines between the city's haves and have-nots.

But the revisions Bowser ultimately settled on, which she released today, don't substantially alter Gray's proposal. Instead, there are just two changes.

The first aims to blur the divide formed by the Anacostia River. Under Gray's plan, Eastern High School's boundaries would have aligned largely with those of Ward 6, and students east of the Anacostia in Ward 7, who previously had access to Eastern, would have been moved to Woodson High School. Bowser has decided to allow students at Kelly Miller Middle School, in Ward 7, to attend either Woodson or Eastern. That allows these students to cross the river and attend what many expect to become the higher-performing Eastern, but, as Bowser office acknowledges in a "frequently asked questions" document it released today, it's likely to mean a smaller student population at Woodson.

The second change extends the "grandfathering" period for students assigned to new middle schools until 2022. Gray's plan calls for four new middle schools in the city, but it's clear that Bowser is focused on MacFarland Middle School, in her home Ward 4, which is slated to reopen after closing in 2013 due to underenrollment. The neighborhood most angered by Gray's plan was likely Crestwood, which lost access to popular Deal Middle School and Wilson High School in Tenleytown, instead being routed to MacFarland and the struggling Roosevelt High School. Bowser's changes allow these families to continue attending Deal and Wilson until 2022.

Read more Bowser Keeps School-Boundary Changes Mostly Intact, With Two Tweaks

Morning Links

queens chapelMapping D.C.'s potholes, and how long it takes to fix them. [NBC4]

Private bus service is coming to D.C. [Post]

Three H Street NE buildings set to be razed to build new residences. [District Source]

And a 52-unit building is planned nearby in Trinidad. [UrbanTurf]

You need to earn $77,000 a year to afford a home in the D.C. area. [Next City]

Dan Tangherlini, former chief of DDOT and GSA, cashes out. [Post]

The Dutch don't like Muriel Bowser's insistence that D.C. won't be like Amsterdam. [Washingtonian]

But we should aspire to be more like Amsterdam. [GGW]

Adams Morgan office building slated to become 47 residences. [UrbanTurf]

Today on the market: Queens Chapel corner-lot house—$485,000

Metro Fares Won’t Increase This Year, But Service Cuts Still Possible


Metro will not raise fares or make “substantial” cuts to bus and rail service during its next fiscal year, the WMATA board announced this afternoon.

In a draft budget, Metro proposed increasing rail and bus fares by 10 cents, eliminating late-night rail service on Fridays and Saturday, and getting rid of bus trips and routes that serve a low (but unspecified) number of riders. The suggested changes totaled $46 million in subsidy reductions for D.C., Virginia, and Maryland. But the board today to reject the fare increase, while keeping the door open for some cuts to bus and rail service.

Since the board did not adopt the proposed budget in full, Metro will continue to hold public hearings regarding potential cuts or additions. In March and April, Metro says it will conduct “public participation and outreach” and hold a public hearing at a future date. Read more Metro Fares Won’t Increase This Year, But Service Cuts Still Possible

The BicycleSPACE Takeover


BicycleSPACE is officially "in the big leagues."

So says Erik Kugler, the popular bike shop's co-owner. After being forced out of its former space on 7th Street NW to make way for an office development, the store moved into a temporary location at an old Burger King storefront at 5th and G streets NW and found a new permanent home around the corner at 440 K St. NW, which it plans to open in May. Then, in January, the store announced a bold expansion, to the burgeoning development at the former Hecht Company warehouse on a heretofore desolate stretch of New York Avenue NE.

Today, Kugler and co. made another big move, announcing that they'll open their largest store in Adams Morgan.

The store, scheduled to open in April, will occupy 6,405 square feet at 2424 18th St. NW, described by the owners as an "unimaginably large shop." It takes over a space that's been vacant for years, since the closure of Slaviya and previously Leftbank. The building is owned by Douglas Development, which also owns the Hecht property, as well as the 7th Street store that BicycleSPACE had to leave so Douglas could proceed with its office development.

"When they heard our plans for how we want to have a lot more capacity, their ears perked up," Kugler says of Douglas. "It’s like they hold all the cards, and they started laying them on the table, and we had to say no to all the things we couldn’t bite into."

The BicycleSPACE owners have fielded lots of pitches for new stores, says Kugler. "The people who own a lot of real estate in town really like what we do and what we bring to the community," he says. "They see us as an ideal fit for the neighborhoods where they own properties."

Even with cycling on the rise in the District, the proliferation of bike shops might seem out of proportion. But Kugler, citing the Office of Planning's projections of continued strong population growth, says he's simply reading the tea leaves—or maybe the pond lillies.

Read more The BicycleSPACE Takeover

Morning Links

dupontHow (and where) to celebrate legal pot without getting punished. [City Desk]

Supply won't meet demand in D.C.'s housing market anytime soon. [UrbanTurf]

Kaya Henderson wants to revamp the school modernization process. [Post]

How a 1988 initiative gave Anacostia students a boost. [GGW]

Affordable apartment building by Shaw Metro gets a building permit. [WBJ]

A map of D.C.'s boundary stones, from a century ago. [Ghosts of DC]

Vacancy drops for high-end offices. [WBJ]

Today on the market: Dupont 1BR—$365,000

Operator Error: Critics Say It’s Time for the Group That Runs D.C. General to Go


In July 2013, The Community Partnership for the Prevention of Homelessness received a letter from the D.C. Department of Human Services office responsible for investigating facilities for the homeless. The letter contained the results of the annual inspection of the family shelter at the former D.C. General Hospital, which TCP operates.

The inspectors found eight deficiencies in the long-troubled shelter. Most were what you’d expect in an aging facility: broken toilets, leaking pipes, water damage. Others were more disconcerting: Half the electrical outlets in the common areas were missing required child-protective covers, and a room containing confidential client records was unlocked.

And then there was deficiency No. 7: “Criminal background checks do not include Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) records checks.” Fourteen randomly selected personnel files, the report stated, contained no evidence of the FBI and MPD checks required by the Child and Youth Safety and Health Omnibus Amendment Act of 2004.

Less than eight months later, an 8-year-old resident of D.C. General disappeared, apparently abducted by a shelter janitor with a criminal history that included felony convictions for burglary and breaking and entering.

This Sunday marks the one-year anniversary of the last time that girl, Relisha Rudd, was seen. A month after she disappeared, police found the body of her suspected abductor, Kahlil Tatum. Relisha is feared dead, and the police investigation remains open.

It’s not clear that compliance with the 2004 law would have prevented Relisha’s disappearance, given that the law didn’t classify the janitor’s role as a “safety sensitive position” and didn’t prohibit him from working in close proximity to children. But TCP’s tenure managing D.C. General has seen enough instances of negligence and alleged abuses of power by shelter staff for critics to call for the city to terminate its contract with the organization.

“We’ve lost any confidence in The Community Partnership,” says Rev. Mike Wilker, senior pastor of the Lutheran Church of the Reformation on Capitol Hill. Wilker and other leaders of the Washington Interfaith Network have met with hundreds of D.C. General residents and advocated for better management of the shelter. “It’s our judgment that The Community Partnership is broken, and that the problems at The Community Partnership are so fundamental, we don’t think they can be fixed.”

“It’s basically a failure,” says Naila Dorsey, who lived at D.C. General with her three children for four months last year. “They never worked up to what we needed, as far as families in there that needed assistance.”

Two of the three leading candidates for mayor last year said they would terminate TCP’s contract for management of D.C. General. The third, now-Mayor Muriel Bowser, said at an Oct. 2 debate, “This is a big contractor who has failed to do the job that needs to be done to keep children like Relisha safe.” But she stopped short of calling for TCP to be replaced, saying instead that she’d conduct a “top-down review.” Bowser spokesman Michael Czin says that review is in its early stages. Read more Operator Error: Critics Say It’s Time for the Group That Runs D.C. General to Go

Morning Links

loganFirst phase of massive Anacostia riverfront development gets zoning approval. [UrbanTurf]

Homeowners appealing their tax assessment almost always lose. [WBJ]

How the demographics of D.C. neighborhoods changed over a decade. [District, Measured]

Mapping where you can't possess marijuana tomorrow. [Post]

Blagden Alley development can go forward without parking. [UrbanTurf]

Zoning Commission gives initial green light to flexibility on affordability units near Navy Yard. [JDLand]

Building sale near the Capitol is the priciest in D.C. history. [WBJ]

Today on the market: Logan Circle 1BR—$399,900

Exorbitant House of the Week, 21st-Century Cabin Edition

DC8513312 – Exterior (Front)

You know when you want a rustic cabin, but you actually don't want it be rustic at all and are willing to pay $5 million to ensure it isn't? Your search can come to an end at this Spring Valley house.

With six bedrooms, six bathrooms, and at least four fireplaces, it's kind of like the cabin that large packs of 20-something friends are always seeking for a debaucherous weekend in the woods, except just a tad out of the typical price range. And also way more modern.

Consider those fireplaces. They're not exactly of the get-sooty-and-roast-marshmallows variety:

DC8513312 – Bedroom (Master)

DC8513312 – Living Room

Read more Exorbitant House of the Week, 21st-Century Cabin Edition

Morning Links

ritzStreetcar brings in revenue before it even opens, via parking tickets. [City Desk]

NoMa park plan could be a chance to straighten out the Metropolitan Branch Trail. [WashCycle]

A visualization of Silver Line ridership. [PlanItMetro]

Where D.C.'s college students come from. [Post]

The design of the future FBI headquarters gets hashed out over lunch. [WBJ]

One killed, two hurt as SUV flips and hits pedestrians. [WJLA]

Today on the market: Ritz-Carlton 2BR—$925,000