Housing Complex

Housing Authority: Complaints of Deplorable Living Conditions Were Fabricated

Housing_Park_Morton-1

The Park Morton public housing complex in Park View is not in great shape. It's slated for redevelopment into a mixed-income community under the New Communities Initiative, and so the D.C. Housing Authority isn't filling vacated units, meaning there are nearly two dozen with boarded-up windows. Crime isn't nearly as bad as it was 20 years ago, but it's still present in this area of concentrated poverty, as driven home last month when a six-year-old girl was shot in a playground there.

Yet the condition of Park Morton isn't as bad as a post last week on the PoPville blog might have had you believe.

The post consisted of an email and photos from a Park Morton resident, who complained to PoPville (formerly Prince of Petworth), "Everything is pretty much falling apart interior and exterior not just with my apartment but pretty much everyone apartment is falling apart and DCHA doesn’t do anything but complain about what they can and can’t do!" The resident reported that there were exposed live wires, a sparking fuse box, water damage, and "brown stuff" leaking from the tub. The photos showed holes in the walls, unusual stains, and lots of wear and tear.

"He sent me an email and said, 'Hey, I've got all these pictures about what a terrible situation my apartment is in,'" says PoPville proprietor Dan Silverman. "I’ve been trying to get it fixed for x amount of time and it’s not going anywhere.'"

Some commenters on the post were outraged. "This is a city agency not doing its job properly," wrote one. Another described Park Morton as having "slum conditions."

The Housing Authority quickly looked into the complaint, since it appeared to include major housing code violations in a property managed by the agency. And it determined that the claims were fabricated, with at least some of the damage caused by the resident to make conditions appear worse than they were.

"During the inspection, it was determined that the online post was submitted by an adult dependent of a Park Morton resident," Housing Authority spokeswoman Christy Goodman said in a press release today. "That dependent admitted to causing the destruction of property and making a false report to a neighborhood website. DCHA repaired the issues."

PoPville took down the post earlier this week—a cached version can be found here—but not at the request of the Housing Authority, which did not contact Silverman. Instead, the resident himself reached out to Silverman asking to have the post removed.

"Last night or two days ago, he emailed and said, 'Hey, I’m feeling threatened, they’re coming after me,'" says Silverman.

Goodman speculates that the resident might have felt his lease was at risk for causing damage to the property and so wanted to cease publicizing the issue.

Neither the Housing Authority nor Silverman provided the resident's name. Silverman says he still doesn't know whether the complaint was legitimate or not. But he hopes he didn't post something fictitious.

"The last thing I want to do," he says, "is post fucking bullshit."

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

  • Matt

    Shocking that PoP posted that bullshit without spending five seconds to check its veracity.

    Sadly, there is a sizable contingent in this city --mostly scared white people who have lived here for about 10 minutes -- that gets most of its news from that hack.

  • http://washingtoncitypaper.com joniluis99

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  • WaitAMInute

    actually this would seem to show a reason to be skeptical of claims that the city is conspiring against poor people. The folks who reacted so strongly to that post were mostly the kind of folks unsympathetic to scared white people - that silverman posted it went exactly agains the stereotype of him being all for gentrifiers.

    Everyone should be skeptical of everything they read - especially if someone makes a claim against someone else, and that person or entity has not had a chance to respond.

  • Jenny

    Honestly, PoPville does some good blogging. But he also blocks a lot of posts people make about consequences of gentrification and changes in the neighborhood that do not jive with his interests (development, property value increases, another trendy/uber/hipster bar/restaurant opening, cute dogs and cats). He stifles free speech buy banning posts that are not offensive, harsh or in any means inflammatory (i.e. non-trolls). So its NO SURPRISE for me that he lets such negative articles go up without verification. He wants $1M homes in the neighborhood and doesn't give a hoot about others opinions.

  • http://dcvacantproperties.blogspot.com Mari InShaw

    Damned if you do, damned if you don't post, particularly when you don't typically cover the issues of poorer residents.
    Thanks for the link to the cached post. I looked, and a few of those photos could have been taken in my house (the unrenovated part).
    The fault is in the reader's damaging his apartment, not PoP for posting this. The reader is in trouble because he (I'm guessing male) publicized some of the damage he did. However, I know what an old door with rust and a zillion coats of paint looks like, is that fabricated? There is some truth in this.

  • dave

    For every one useful post on popville there are three where people are ratting someone out trying to get someone in trouble. Its tattleville. Like someone keeps parking in an illegal spot (and I'm jealous I dont have the balls to do it and get away with it) and the city didnt respond to my email, what am I to do? How about you suck it the freak up and go about your life like this doesnt affect you, cuz it doesnt

  • NotThisAgain

    "He stifles free speech"

    One more time, free speech is a right you have against the govt. POPVILLE, like other blogs, is a private entity. Silverman's right to delete things there IS free speech. It's HIS freedom to speak, as he wishes - which includes the right to NOT allow things he dislikes on HIS blog. If you don't like that you are free to post elsewhere, or start your own blog. Which is far easier to do today than it was to start your own newspaper back when that was the only option - that or shouting aloud in the park. Which some people still do, BTW.

  • Jenny

    Well, PopVille does block posts that don't subscribe to his vision of what should be on his blog. And I'm not talking about cussing, threatening or any troll-like posts. Let's face it..as Mari InShaw posted @ 10:07 am, he doesn't cover issues of poorer residents. Ocassionally, he will have a piece on some long-time neighbor who talks about the changes. But its ridiculous how he blocks posts that don't subscribe to his point of view. I can show you screen prints of before and after what has been deleted from threads prior to being blocked. Simply put, the guy doesn't like people to question his "Everythings' Up and Comin' in Petworth views". I can salute him for blogging about the positive things but he's slanted on his view of what should be discussed/opined on on his blog.

  • Ara

    Well, PopVille does block posts that don't subscribe to his vision of what should be on his blog. And I'm not talking about cussing, threatening or any troll-like posts. Let's face it..as Mari InShaw posted @ 10:07 am, he doesn't cover issues of poorer residents. Ocassionally, he will have a piece on some long-time neighbor who talks about the changes. But its ridiculous how he blocks posts that don't subscribe to his point of view. I can show you screen prints of before and after what has been deleted from threads prior to being blocked. Simply put, the guy doesn't like people to question his "Everythings' Up and Comin' in Petworth views". I can salute him for blogging about the positive things but he's slanted on his view of what should be discussed/opined on on his blog.

  • Rob W

    Its his blog. Its not slanted. Its his choice. Its like saying that the way I decorate my place is slanted towards the furniture I like.

    PoPville, which is an okay blog, can do whatever it wants with its own blog. The free speech remedy is to start your own blog.

  • NotThisAgain

    I usually skip POPVILLE, because theres too much stuff that does not interest me (car pics, animal pics, latest restaurant opening) and its hard to sift for the stuff that does interest me. So I look at other sources - including the WaPo and CP.

    I dont complain about "censorship". Its his blog, if he wants to present a certain POV, thats his business. There are plenty of places to hear people complaining about gentrification.

  • anon

    many blogs have commenting policies, and as much as anyone tries to be consistent there's always some gray area open to interpretation.

    That said, I agree with @Ara and @Jenny that PoPville is quick to drop comments that are critical of Silverman's personal vision for the city.

  • anon

    he already deleted a comment I just posted referencing this WCP post and how it's a better unfiltered discussion of the problems of PoP. Typical

  • anon

    just posted to PoP - certain to be deleted in a few mometns

    does "Mea Culpa" count if only offered as a tagline and not a genuine apology for calling our DCHA staff who appear to be doing their job?

  • Typical DC BS

    Too bad they didn't bother to ask how long that tenant has been living in subsidized housing. Funny how GENERATIONS can live there and DC government sees no problem with that. Like everything else the government does, they can't seem to figure out there is NO RIGHT for people to be living off the government unless they have serious physical or mental health issues.

  • Miss Lu Lu Hogg

    Jenny and Matt, I agree with you 100%. I was blocked from posting comments on this site. However, hipsters seem to be allowed to post whatever they want. Many of the white hipsters don't want to see affordable housing with the old Hebrew Home on Spring Road, NW. This site use to be used by the D.C. Department of Mental Health. New residents want to see a Starbucks or a restaurant. There are too many dam Starbucks and restaurants in DC.

  • JS

    @Miss Lu Lu Hogg, I've been at every meeting about the future of that site and I have not heard a single person say they'd like a Starbucks or a restaurant there. Besides, the parcel is zoned R-4 so commercial development would be very unlikely. Care to retract your claim?

  • HistoricUses

    I think there should be more aging Hebrews there. As an aging Hebrew myself, I would be fine with a Starbucks. And maybe a Kosher restaurant. You can't say there are too many Kosher restaurants in DC.

  • anon

    PoP clearly hasn't learned his lesson, as he continues to post unsubstantiated allegations on his site. This post is from today:

    http://www.popville.com/2014/06/props-to-alert-neighbors-but-heads-up-if-you-live-innear-kingman-park/

    Takes the letter-writer 100 percent at his/her word, without doing any sort of fact-checking.

    It's only a matter of time before he gets sued over one of these posts. Frankly, I can't wait until it happens.

  • Jenny

    I respect what he does in some regard. But honestly, when somebody starts deleting posts just based on opinion and not because they were troll posts, then

    you start wondering what he is about. He is not for open discussion. City Paper and WaPo give open discussion as long as its not trolling. I guess the

    reason the PoPville tag is "Welcome to the Beautiful Life" is that he thinks he can control what people think and want to discuss. Slanted opinions just to

    make himself feel better (or maybe appreciate his house price if he owns..I dunno). Sad that another post's comments were deleted on Popville.

  • http://dcvacantproperties.blogspot.com Mari InShaw

    People. The internet is a beautiful thing. If you don't like someone's blog and you don't think a particular outlook, start your own damned blog. When you do, you will find how hard it is to keep writing interesting posts on a regular basis, keep up with the spam, respond to all the emails from people who want you to link to them or promote their business or fundraiser or highlight a crime that happened, especially if it is a one person shop. The amount Dan (PoP) churns out and the huge number of comments he has to deal with, I don't see how he's have the time to do any deep investigation from unsolicited sources. And since it is his blog he can curate the comments as he sees fit to bring the desired tone that he wants.
    But back to the topic, there was very little in the photographs that were red flags to me. As I said, it looked like unrenovated parts of my house. DCHA said they repaired the issues, so besides what the offender broke were there real problems with the unit? Maybe this may inspire paid journalists to investigate and maybe this will inspire public housing residents to stick to the truth.

  • Anon

    Mari: he is a paid journalist. Running that blog is his job. All some of us are saying is that he should spend less time taking pictures of doors and more time checking the veracity of the reader-submitted posts.

    Let me pose a question to WCP editors: Would you run a reader-submitted story verbatim -- especially a story accusing someone or something of wrongdoing -- without first checking it out? That's exactly what PoP does nearly every day.

    It's astonishing that so many of you don't see anything wrong with this.

  • Black Man 16th Street Heights

    Mari InShaw, you sound like a cheerleader for Dan Silverman. Sure he have a right to screen whomever he wants to make comments on his blog. However, I find him to be an biased individual letting certain people say whatever they want and deleting others comments. I am surprised the DCHA didn't file a suit against his blog for slander. I stopped reading his blog a long time ago because I realized his blog was catering to young whites moving into the city and he and most of his readers seem to support gentrification and no affordable housing for low and moderate income minorities.

  • Ward 4 Resident

    I stopped reading this blog a long time ago because it catering to young white residents moving into the city. Many over their views are biased towards black DC residents.

  • Ward 4 Resident

    Correction:

    Many of their views are biased towards black DC residents.

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