Still Slumming

The D.C. U.S. Attorney's Office proudly details success stories from cleaning up "nuisance properties" -- including crack houses -- on its website. But the results are mixed, at best.
March 12, 2006, 9am PST | David Gest
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"About a decade ago, the U.S. Attorney's Office (USAO) for the District of Columbia took aim at what law-enforcement officials call "nuisance properties" -- crack houses or boarded-up buildings that attract crime. Ever since, it has teamed up with D.C. agenciesâ€"the police department and the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, for startersâ€"to oust the tenants/squatters who have made such properties neighborhood eyesores. The USAO now feels sufficiently confident in the program to post a list of "Nuisance Property Success Stories" on its Web site, an inventory that now features 28 properties. The distinction comes with a vague blurb describing what the nuisance was, how the USAO got rid of it, and how much better off the neighborhood is now. Interviews with the actual people involvedâ€"the tenants, the addicts, the cops, the landlordsâ€"reveal that there is much more to the stories. Or sometimes much less."

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Published on Friday, March 10, 2006 in Washington City Paper
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