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Crews board up blighted DC home after WUSA9 story about neighbors' concerns

Homeowners in Petworth said the condemned home posed a safety hazard.

WASHINGTON — A D.C. homeowner desperate for something to be done about the dilapidated house next door is getting relief. After neighbors contacted WUSA9 about the home they called a safety hazard, crews with the Department of Buildings showed up to secure the property. 

High wind made the home with gaping holes in the roof and windows falling from their frames even more of a danger to the community. Neighbors sent WUSA9 cellphone video of plastic inside the broken windows whipping in the winds. Shortly after WUSA9 highlighted their concerns, DOB crews boarded up the broken windows and removed the hanging debris.

"If you just board it up that's fine but if you're not checking to see what's wrong and what potential issues could come up that's a problem," said neighbor Ken Eye.

"Look at this house -- it's really not OK,” added Shanise Ricks. "It's endangering the community and it makes us look bad. You have homes going for a million dollars around here." 

Former Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Paul Johnson lives nearby and said neighbors avoided a catastrophe when a major gas leak led the fire department to condemn the building last month. But residents had been complaining of the condition for years, worried about the elderly residents inside who have since moved.

"There's a lot of elderly residents here and there's a lot of development happening --we want proactive measures taken," Johnson said. "I think that when a lot of voices raises concern that there's a public safety issue you can't afford to have a catastrophe." 

According to the DOB, there are over 4,000 vacant properties around the city and nearly 300 of them are also deemed blighted or a danger to the community. 

DOB got back to WUSA9 after our deadline Monday with a statement:

Since September 10, 2021, the DC Department of Buildings (DOB) or our predecessor agency has inspected 4404 New Hampshire Avenue NW seven times and issued four Notices of Infractions for property maintenance violations found. Each of these cases has been filed with the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) and is awaiting adjudication.

 Additionally, on February 17, 2023, DOB inspected the property and placarded it as uninhabitable. Subsequently, on two occasions between February 24, 2023, and March 15, 2023, DOB again inspected the property, found it to be blighted, and referred the property to the Board for the Condemnation of Insanity Buildings (BCIB). DOB also commissioned a structural engineer who conducted a site visit on March 16, 2023, and found the property to not be an imminent danger. At this time, DOB contracted for services to secure upper windows that presented a potential safety risk.

The property will be reviewed by the BCIB at its April meeting.

Ricks said action being taken the secure the house is a priority for the neighborhood. 

"It's not important to them, but this is important to our neighborhood," he said. "I've been here 46 years and I ain't going nowhere, but I do want it to be safe while I am here."

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