Residents of Swann Street NW have grown accustomed to peering into vacant houses only to find strange people peering back out at them—or, in one case, jumping out and mugging them. But the reign of “abandominiums” might be drawing to an end, if Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham’s “Nuisance Property Boardup” legislation rolls through the D.C. Council.
Introduced last week, the bill gives the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs the power to immediately seal up unsafe buildings, whereas before the process could take weeks. “[A nuisance property] is not only demoralizing, but it’s obviously an invitation to crime. And we’ve had very serious fires occur,” says Graham.
Neighbors of 1774 Willard St. NW are particularly happy about the fix. The vacant, three-story bricker has over the years hosted an illegal cable connection, an apparently drugged woman who liked to randomly scream at things, and frequent male visitations that some believed to be evidence of prostitution. One neighbor reports that he recently saw a man and a woman huddled in the dark under the house’s back porch, but a recent visit turned up only a broken back door, beer bottles, and a pile of human-looking feces.