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DC Housing Authority claims to have corrected 111 housing code violations; conducted pest control at 283 units at Potomac Gardens

An update, 2 weeks after a WUSA9 investigation into unsafe and unsanitary conditions inside a DC public housing complex

WASHINGTON D.C., DC — It has been weeks since a WUSA9 investigation uncovered padlocked gates, bugs, and rats inside a DC Housing Authority complex. District leaders have since sent inspectors to Potomac Gardens on Capitol Hill who reportedly found more than 100 violations.   

WUSA9 started looking into the issues at the Southeast public housing complex in May. Tenants said they have been dealing with mold, rats and bugs. While walking the property, we noticed padlocks on the iron gates surrounding the complex, which DC Fire and EMS said was a fire code violation. 

A day after WUSA9 reported the dangerous and dirty conditions at the public housing complex, the padlocks were taken off the gate. 

Inspectors have begun visiting the public housing complex since WUSA9 first uncovered conditions outside and inside.  

Shantell Powell shared pictures and even videos of rats inside her first-floor apartment. She says she and her nine-year-old daughter spend most of their nights at a hotel. 

A second resident, Courtney Mills, showed us water bugs and several holes in her walls she tried to cover up after she said mice kept chewing their way through.  

Thomasia Moore also lives at the complex and pointed out mold growing on her wall. She’s resorted to getting a cat to control her rodent problem.

According to the DC Housing Authority, the DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs conducted 128 housing inspections between May 20 and 23. The spokesperson said DCHA has corrected 111 violations and conducted pest control for 283 units.

Anthony Ford was visiting his sister-in-law Monday and said he’s seen crews making repairs.

“They’re working on smoke alarms, fire extinguishers. They’ve been checking windows and gas maybe, but they were doing 3 or 4 things last week,” he explained. “They’re scared of something I don’t know what it is because they weren’t doing what they’re doing now with inspections and going to each unit.”

But Kelvin Gordan who works with Shantell Powell, who is now suing DCHA due to her rat-infested home, felt like crews weren’t moving fast enough to make sure families have a safe and sanitary place to live.

“Since I’ve been working here it seems like housing takes their time with what they want to do,” he said.

When WUSA9 first did the story, District leaders said a Rapid Response Unit would address issues inside Potomac Gardens. Now, a DC Housing Authority spokesperson said they’re working towards implementing that Rapid Response Unit. In that same statement, the spokesperson went on to say that DCHA has positions open for maintenance crews and is currently hiring.

Read their complete statement below:

DCHA’s mission is to provide safe and quality affordable housing.  DCHA has been conducting Uniform Physical Condition Standards (UPCS) inspections across the portfolio since the beginning of April. At Potomac Gardens, DCHA staff completed 157 UPCS inspections through the week of May 27.

DCHA is addressing the cited infractions identified by DCRA during their 128 inspections on Friday, May 20 through Tuesday, May 23. So far, DCHA corrected 111 infractions for the week ending May 27. Those corrections include replacement and servicing of smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, and fire alarms and conducting pest control for 283 units. Staff continues to address infractions cited by DCRA, such as repairing holes or cracks in walls, repairing bathroom fixtures, and eliminating tripping hazards.

DCHA identifies concerns in units based on routine work orders, annual housekeeping checks, and UPCS inspections. We are working towards the implementation of a Rapid Response Unit which will be a designated team to address unit repairs. DCHA currently has maintenance positions open across the portfolio and are looking for qualified candidates to fill those positions, please visit the DCHA website at www.dchousing.org to apply.

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