Unhoused families resist Poverty Pimping & Scamlords in DC

Tiny - Posted on 27 July 2017

My name is Jewel Stroman. Last summer I went from being homeless with my family to obtaining a 2 story brick house in 60 days and becoming a Community Activist. I started a movement advocating not only for my family, but for all families placed at Motel 6 by DC Dept of Human Services & Virginia Williams Family Resource Center. Families sat in filthy living conditions, rodent-infested motel rooms forgotten about by city officials for over 8 months. I joined forces with ABC 7News and We Act Radio and Mayor Bowser and got these families into housing. My fight for adequate housing and proper services for DC families is ongoing.



My family is housed under the Community Partnerships FSRP Rapid Re-Housing Program. This past summer I single-handedly started a movement advocating not only for my family (who had been placed by the Virginia Williams Family Resource Center into a Motel 6), but for every other family at Motel 6. Many of these families had been in Motel placement for over 8 months !!! With no access to case managers (as promised by Virginia Williams and DHS), stuck in a run-down Motel with an infestation of  Rats, Mice and Roaches, and no access to kitchens or refrigerators.


I caught the attention of ABC 7 News and joined forces with Investigative Reporter Scott Taylor to bring attention to this problem. ABC 7 News aired 3 different news stories on the families in Motel 6 in August, September and December. I also did a Radio Interview with Monique Brown from We Act Radio and was in talks with Renee Nash, producer at WHUR 96.3 FM Radio . I started a petition and went on the front lines advocating for my families. Due to my actions, all of the families were finally moved into housing in March. Most recently, my actions caught the attention of DC Mayor Bowser, whom I had a meeting with in March to address my concerns about how DC treats and houses homeless families.


We are currently assigned to Edgewood Brookland Collaborative. In April I contacted Katrina Coates (irector @ Edgewood) in regards to my water being cut off. The Agency agreed to pay the balance of $683 due to restore service. I was contacted by staff there who asked for a recent bill, which I provided via email, and was told the bill would be paid. To date the bill has not been paid despite a Promissory Note written by Edgewood. The water is now back off.


I have 4 children in my home, one of which is a 10 month old, and I am also pregnant. Upon contacting Edgewood Brookland I was told that per the Director's’ wishes Edgewood would only pay the $683 they initially agreed to pay. I reminded them of the late fees, which they agreed to pay. I submitted a copy of the ledger and my Water bill from May, which included the rollover balance of the $683. However, I am being told that Edgewood will not pay the May or June bill. May's bill was $224. Once your total bill goes over a certain amount your utilities are disconnected. Since Edgewood Brookland failed to pay the $683 plus the reconnection fee from April the majority of the money I now owe is from that . Had that portion been paid I would only owe a balance of about $300 and my services would not have been disconnected. The Services were disconnected due to the high amount now owed. I could have set up a payment plan for the $300 from May and June but the bill exceeds the amount the water company would be willing to apply a payment plan to, and once services have been disconnected you are no longer eligible for a payment plan. They want the money to be paid in full to restore services.


I don't understand how an agency who claims to be for families can leave a mother and her children without water and refuse to pay the balance due to restore services.


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