Housing Authority: Complaints of Deplorable Living Conditions Were Fabricated
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