Children’s Law Center and other housing advocates are calling on the D.C. Council to pass the Department of Buildings Establishment Act that would overhaul DCRA, particularly in the wake of an August fire in a rental unit that left two tenants dead, including a 9-year-old boy.
CLC Senior Supervising Attorney Kathy Zeisel spoke with Chelsea Cirruzzo of Washington City Paper about DCRA’s continued failure to ensure safe and healthy housing conditions for District tenants:
Zeisel’s main concern is the lack of trained inspectors. According to a report by the Children’s Law Center, D.C. only has 1 inspector for every 12,000 rental units. There are 187,000 rental units in the city.
And Zeisel says this disparity becomes clear in DCRA’s own data on inspections.
Meanwhile, since the fire, Zeisel says DCRA hasn’t done enough. “They’ve put some bandaids in place,” she says. “They’ve done some revamps to their website, they’ve posted a request for proposals for a wholesale culture change, they’ve trained their inspectors using e-learning. That’s just not enough.”
Photo credit: Darrow Montgomery