Commission Opposes Brightwood Home for Residents in Mental Health Distress

Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4A for Shepherd Park, Brightwood, Crestwood, and vicinity held its October meeting on Tuesday evening.  The two presentations involved the relocation of a residential treatment facility for residents experiencing mental illness and the renovation of the Libyan Embassy on the grounds of Walter Reed.

Commission Members Concerned about Proposed Residental Treatment Facility in Brightwood

The main presentation of the evening was a tense discussion on a proposal to open a home for patients with mental illness on 13th Street in the Brightwood neighborhood.  Commissioner Patrice Singletary (4A04) led the conversation.

Woodley House History

According to its mission statement, Woodley House is an “innovative, community-based organization dedicated to helping people with mental illness live full and healthy lives with dignity. Since 1958, Woodley House has enabled thousands of Washington, DC area residents to regain their independence and recover from mental illness. ” Their Crossing Place residence is an eight-bed stabilization program that has existed on Connecticut Avenue NW in Ward 3 since the mid-seventies.

Chief Administrative Officer Tyrone Cartwright explained the basic procedures of the home, including the presence of two 24-hour staff members.  Patients must be 18 years old and able to maintain the safety of themselves and others before they are admitted to the house.  Stays are short-term, generally between 2 and 14 days.

Brightwood Relocation

ANC 4A October 2020

Time and added regulation made their current location on Connecticut Avenue NW obsolete, so the organization sought to find a new home for the program.  They found this beautifully renovated five-bedroom home in the 6400-block of 13th Street NW and purchased it this summer for nearly $1.2 million.  The Ward 3 townhouse, which was purchased for $75,000 originally, was sold for $1.5 million.

Commission Opposition

Area residents have expressed several concerns about a facility of this type opening in the middle of a residential neighborhood.  Several items that were captured in the resolution in opposition to its licensing include:

  • Ward 4, and Brightwood in particular, has an over-concentration of social service facilities
  • The proposed location is less than 500 feet from an existing group home
  • The operators declined to address concerns that patients could arrive via emergency vehicle 24 hours a day
  • The operators have not been forthcoming with information about their operational procedures

The Commission voted unanimously on a resolution (link) to oppose the organization’s ability to open the facility in the Brightwood neighborhood.  All stakeholders now await a decision from the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs on whether the house can receive a certificate of occupancy by-right or if additional steps must be taken.

Libyan Embassy Proposes Modest Renovation

Libyan Embassy

As you may know, the western side of the Walter Reed campus is the property of the U.S. Department of State.  The land will become the city’s latest Chancellory, to house embassies and office space for foreign countries.  The first occupant is the State of Libya.

The country’s representatives have moved into an existing two-story home on the property and are proposing some modest renovations.  They also want to add a temporary, modular building in the backyard (with the possibility of building a permanent structure in the future.  Following National Capital Planning Commission guidelines, their contractor sought the ANC’s input on their design.  A resolution supporting their proposed updates passed easily.

Reports

Mayor’s Office of Community Relations – Gabrielle Priest

Jack O LanternMs. Priest presented the Mayor’s latest guidance for conducting Halloween celebrations under the current Phase Two Health Emergency.  Basically, the city encourages families to be socially responsible because many traditional activities such as Trick-or-Treating are high risk for transmission of the coronavirus.  They recommend creating alternative ideas to celebrate such as virtual costume contests.

Accordingly, the world-famous Shepherd Park Halloween Parade has been canceled for this year.

You can see the full list of alternate recommendations and advice here (link).

Councilmember Todd’s Office – Sherryl Newman

Ms. Newman shared information about the Council’s position on renaming Woodrow Wilson High School because of its namesake’s racist past. In testimony before the Council, DCPS spokesperson Sharita Burney said:

DCPS agrees with Mayor Bowser, that the name of Wilson High School must change. Woodrow Wilson’s racist legacy and policies of segregation acutely carried out against Black federal employees in the District and Black residents of Reno City, where the school now sits, make him an unseemly namesake for the school and does not reflect DCPS values of Students First, Equity, Excellence, Teamwork, Courage, and Joy.

In its latest meeting, Ms. Newman says that the Council agrees with the name change, but wanted to clarify the language in the resolution before a vote.

Regarding school reopenings, she said that the Department of General Services is currently conducting assessments of each building and their ventilation systems to determine if they are ready to receive students under health emergency guidelines.  Protective equipment for teachers and students has been ordered and will be delivered by the end of the month.

Ward 4 State Board of Education – Frazier O’Leary

Mr. O’Leary briefed the meeting on the Mayor’s somewhat confusing school reopening plan.  Basically, elementary schools will reopen, with a priority on students with IEPs, who are English Learners or who are experiencing homelessness. In addition, there will be “care” classrooms monitored by an adult who may not be a child’s teacher.  These students will learn virtually in a classroom setting. You can read more about the school system’s Reopening Plan here (link).

He also continues to promote his book drive, which has donated over 10,000 books to local schools and food sites to date. More contributions are needed.  Please get in touch with him if you have books for students Pk-12.  You can deliver the books to his house or he will come and pick them up. You can reach him at Frazier.OLeary@dc.gov.

About Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4A

Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 4A represents the Ward 4 neighborhoods of Colonial Village, Shepherd Park, Brightwood, 16th Street Heights, and Crestwood. An ANC is a non-partisan, neighborhood body made up of locally elected representatives called Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners. The Commissioners are elected to two-year terms and serve without pay.

The ANCs’ main job is to be their neighborhood’s official voice in advising the District government. Although they do not have to follow the ANCs’ advice, District agencies are required to give the ANCs’ recommendations “great weight.”

These are the members of ANC 4A:

Single Member District Commissioner Neighborhood Email
4A01 Phyllis Caudle Green Colonial Village 4A01@anc.dc.gov
4A02 Stacey Lincoln Shepherd Park 4A02@anc.dc.gov
4A03 Stephen A. Whatley Shepherd Park/Walter Reed/Brightwood 4A03@anc.dc.gov
4A04 Patience Singleton Brightwood 4A04@anc.dc.gov
4A05 Vacant Brightwood
4A06 Candace Tiana Nelson Brightwood/16th Street Heights 4A06@anc.dc.gov
4A07 Marlene Moss Brightwood/16th Street Heights 4A07@anc.dc.gov
4A08 Gale B. Black Crestwood 4A08@anc

Find your ANC here.

Mayor’s Office of Community Relations and Services Ward 4 Liaisons

Gabrielle Priest – gabrielle.priest2@dc.gov | (202) 603-7182

KeShawn Harris – keshawn.harris@dc.gov | (202) 724-7672

Councilmember Brandon Todd Office

btodd@dccouncil.us | (202)724-8052

 

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