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Returning citizens concerned about future of halfway houses in DC

WUSA-TV Washington, D.C. logo WUSA-TV Washington, D.C. 3/24/2019 Jess Arnold
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As contract negotiations continue, returning citizens are concerned about the future of halfway houses in D.C.

Hope Village has held the sole halfway house contract at its current location in Southeast DC until CORE DC was given a five-year contract in 2018.

After a complaint filed by Hope Village, the Government Accountability Office decided more information was needed to follow through with that contract--and extended Hope Village's lease.

For a while, CORE DC had its eyes set on 3400 New York Avenue in Northeast as the location for the halfway house.

Activist Ronald Moten says he noticed the below flyers circulating throughout Ward 5 before it came out that the halfway house could not move in there.

a close up of a sign: "No halfway house here!" © Ronald Moten "No halfway house here!"

Returning citizens say seeing a community response like this is disheartening.

“Give me a chance," said Curtis Brothers who spent six months at Hope Village three years ago.

“Hurt people hurt people and healed people heal people, and not giving a person a chance to enter society in a way that’s conducive to constructive re-engagement into society it’s hurting people," said Ronald Moten, returning citizen and activist.

It's no secret that Hope Village has been fraught with complaints from its wards about sub-par conditions.

“The guys are not bad. They’re in a bad place. They’re in a bad neighborhood. They’re in a bad situation," said returning citizen Rodney Byrd, who spent time in Hope Village in 2017.

Now, he's a foreman at a local business that regularly employs 20-30 returning citizens at a time--as well as a new homeowner.

A supervisor at Hope Village said Saturday that they can't discuss these complaints per Bureau of Prisons regulations.

Now that the future of both Hope Village and CORE DC's halfway houses are uncertain, returning citizens worry for the future of their peers and their community.

"If they take away the halfway house, they’re going to take away a lot of families chances to better themselves. Now, some people say, oh I don’t want you in my neighborhood, but the person in your neighborhood now could do better if they had their daddy," said Byrd.

He says the most important resource for a halfway house to provide is a connection to a job, and he thinks Hope Village has a lot of room to improve.

Moten and other advocates plan to meet with Douglas Jemal, the owner of the property at 3400 New York Avenue Monday to see if they can convince him to change his mind about the lease.

Also happening Monday is an emergency town hall meeting hosted by Moten to rally community support for a new halfway house.

a screenshot of a cell phone: Emergency Town Hall meeting © Ronald Moten Emergency Town Hall meeting

WUSA 9 reached out to Douglas Development Corporation and CORE DC for comment and are waiting to hear back.

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