City Paper is not for tourists
On January 26, Osman Abdullahi was gunned down by D.C. Police after an altercation inside his unlicensed group home. The home, located at 830 7th Street NE, had no heat, very little food, and no supervision. Abdullahi wasn’t taking his medication at the time. The home’s manager Mark Spence has a long history with troubled group homes. We published a cover story on Spence’s activities and Abdullahi this week.
Within a few days of the incident, Spence effectively shutdown his group home. The lights were turned off. The doors were locked. A mysterious notice to “correct” or “vacate” was placed on the door.
The Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs told me they have no record of posting such a notice on the door of 830 7th Street NE. The notice cited overcrowding as an issue. Spence had 30 days to correct the overcrowding problem or face some kind of fine or eviction. I saw the notice. The notice did not have DCRA letterhead or a name and phone number of an inspector who made the determination.
I asked Spence about the note. He told me the building’s owner could have posted it. He added that he had cleared everyone out of the building. This is a clear violation of landlord-tenant regs. No one stopped Mr. Spence from ignoring the law.
The Office of the D.C. Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program has had frequent encounters with Spence’s work, dating to 1999, according to Jerry Kasunic, the office’s current director.
Today, Kasunic met with the Department of Mental Health. He had one question for the department: Where did the residents of 830 7th Street NE go?
The department’s answer: We don’t know.
Kasunic sounded frustrated on the phone. “I don’t know where they went,” he says. “I want to make sure they have support services that they need whether its medical, psychiatric, any kind of coaching and counseling.”
Kasunic had just gotten back from his meeting with DMH officials. He says he hopes to have information on the residents within a week or two.
“The longer the people are without the proper support systems the better the chance that someone is going to relapse and end up in an ER room or a psych unit,” Kasunic says. “They need the proper case management.”
If Spence was a licensed provider, the residents of 830 7th Street would have been given a 21-day notice of eviction, counseling before the 21-day notice, and a proper transfer to another facility or group home.
Instead, the residents were just dumped. “No one is stepping up to the plate to find these people,” Kasunic says.