Photo of the DC Housing Authority entrance
Photo by Nick Mutschler

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.C. Attorney General Karl Racine announced a lawsuit against the District of Columbia Housing Authority (DCHA) on June 9 for failing to address “drug-and firearm-related nuisances at the properties.”  The suit claims DCHA “…endanger[ed] over 5,000 tenants within 2,567 units in 10 public housing properties — as well as the surrounding communities in Wards 1, 5, 6, and 7” by violating the Drug-, Firearm-, or Prostitution-Related Nuisance Abatement Act, according to a press release. The announcement also says Metropolitan Police Department responded to more than 5,270 incidents including homicides, shootings, and drug offenses that took place at the properties in question between January 2019 and May 2020.

According to the D.C. Code, the Nuisance Abatement Act allows the Office of the Attorney General and community groups to “file lawsuits against properties that are being used to sell, store or manufacture illegal drugs; that are being used to unlawfully store or sell guns; or that are being used to facilitate prostitution.”

Proposals for improving safety around the properties by expanding the presence of security, adding more lighting and adding security cameras were largely ignored by DCHA, the suit alleges. Complaints from residents of the properties and the Attorney General did not receive responses.

DCHA acknowledged the lawsuit in a press release published later the same day, saying they agree the concerns need to be addressed. However, the agency disagreed with the decision to pursue legal action, stating that “the time and financial resources that will be expended to respond to this litigation would be best used to support the measures that this suit seeks to remedy.”

DCHA Executive Director Tyrone Garrett said the agency will conduct an internal investigation.

The 10 public housing properties cited in the lawsuit are James Creek Apartments, Syphax Gardens Apartments, Langston Terrace and Additions, LeDroit Apartments and Kelly Miller Apartments, scattered-site public housing properties, formerly known as the Arthur Capper/Carrollsburg Apartments, Kenilworth Courts Apartments, Richardson Dwellings Apartments, Benning Terrace Apartments, Stoddert Terrace Apartments, and Lincoln Heights Apartments.