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Testimony: Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs Performance Oversight Hearing (FY10)

Children’s Law Center Policy Attorney Rebecca Brink testified before the Committee on Public Services and Consumer Affairs to encourage lifting a hiring freeze preventing the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) from filling vital housing inspector positions.

Children’s Law Center attorneys often represent clients whose children are endangered or sickened by unacceptable housing conditions. Despite treatment by doctors, children’s health ultimately will not improve unless housing conditions causing or exacerbating problems are addressed.

Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs has taken laudable steps to ensure inspectors complete high-quality work by requiring inspectors be properly certified and firing inspectors who failed to become certified in a designated time period. However, shortly after the firings, the District implemented a hiring freeze that left DCRA with a shortage of inspectors.

As a result, inspection wait times are three to four weeks for a “non-emergency” – which can include such dire situations as a rat eating through a child’s crib, or mold growing in a ceiling as water pipes leak.

Hiring additional inspectors would not only ensure children live in safe and healthy homes. In this time of fiscal constraint, it would also help bring needed revenue to the District as more citations and fines could be leveraged against irresponsible landlords for housing code violations.

Read the full testimony here