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Testimony: Agency Responses to Code Violations and the Subsequent Fire at 708 Kennedy Street N.W.

November 18, 2019

Children’s Law Center knows how important healthy housing is in providing a child with a strong foundation of family, health and education. However, the CLC team has testified numerous times about DCRA’s inability to adequately protect and enforce housing code violations. It is our experience that our clients cannot rely on DCRA to address housing issues in any meaningful way.

Senior Supervising Attorney Kathy Zeisel shared CLC’s experiences with DCRA and compared them to findings in a recent report that investigated housing code violations at 708 Kennedy St. N.W. The code violations and a subsequent fire at the Kennedy St. home resulted in two tragic deaths.

Specifcially Kathy pointed to how the report did an excellent job outlining the core concerns about DCRA and FEMS including: inadequate qualifications and training requirements within DCRA; inadequate staffing in DCRA; lack of oversight within DCRA; the failure to prioritize investigations; the inability to appropriately supervise licensed properties and the failure to supervise unlicensed properties; and the lack of coordination across agencies.

She then walked through additional recommendations – including breaking up DCRA – so that the city can better protect the health and safety of DC residents. Read the full testimony here.