The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Washington, D.C. Senior Housing Burns

Oct 1, 2018

The fire destroying 162 apartments for seniors in Washington, D.C. apparently killed no one. But it raised many questions about negligence by the for-profit developer managing the publicly subsidized Arthur Capper Senior Homes, and by city officials.

Five days after Mayor Bowser announced that residents were all accounted for – having been told so by Edgewood Management – engineers evaluating the ruins pried open a door and found a hungry 74-year-old resident sitting on his couch in the dark. His neighbor said she had called Edgewood, worried she had not heard from him.

During the fire, neighbors seeing smoke rushed into the building – later joined by 100 Marines from a local barracks gym and 125 firefighters from D.C. and Maryland – to rescue the residents, over half of whom can’t walk. They pulled fire alarms in the hallways, but no alarms sounded. Authorities say the alarm system was last tested in April.

The developer built the apartments a decade ago, after renting the land from the city for one dollar a year and demolishing the public housing project there. Edgewood is guaranteed well over one million dollars a year in rental income from HUD by way of the city. With all that money to transfer into their pockets, how big a concern are maintenance and safety to these greedy developers?