Inspectors from the Prince George’s County Department of Permitting, Inspections and Enforcement descended Tuesday on a safe-house for women and children threatened by domestic violence to investigate complaints of deplorable living conditions by residents.
The inspections were ordered by county officials after WUSA9 reported on residents of the non-profit Family Crisis Center who were complaining of no heat, the presence of mold and inedible food. They offered photos as evidence of their claims.
The DPIE inspections came after the County’s Director of Family Services toured the Family Crisis Center safe house on Monday.
Results of the county’s investigation so far have not been made public.
“The women and children whose life situations force them to use this shelter are already traumatized, and we must ensure that they are sheltered in a safe, clean, and pleasant environment. Any substandard conditions are unacceptable,” wrote Scott Peterson, a spokesman for County Executive Rushern Baker in a statement announcing the investigation.
Meanwhile, the Executive Director of the Family Crisis Center broke her two-day silence on the allegations by questioning the source of the photos provided to WUSA9 by residents.
“None of these photographs were time or date stamped, and have not been verified to actually come from our facility. Our investigation into residents ‘complaints continues,” wrote Executive Director Sophie Ford.
Ford denied that any of the shelter’s residents have gone without heat and said the spoiled food seen in photos had already been discarded.
She explained that the Family Crisis Center house is 102 years old and noted that the annual budget for repair is $10,000.
“It is our highest priority to protect our population. Therefore, we take any and all complaints very seriously,” Ford wrote.
Residents, whose identities have not been revealed because they are sheltered at the facility because of the threat of domestic violence, were angered by Ford’s response.
“I’m really hurt that she just lied,” said one woman, who is living in the house with her two children.
Residents say the Prince George’s County Council or County Executive should make an immediate emergency grant for repairs to the shelter.
The Family Crisis Center is an independent non-profit that seeks donations to carry out its mission of stopping family violence and protecting victims. However, the county government provides significant large grants to support the organization.