Hope Village, the only men's halfway house in the District, sits in Ward 8. (WI file photo)
Hope Village, the only men's halfway house in the District, sits in Ward 8. (WI file photo)

The ongoing controversy about the fitness of Hope Village to house returning offenders in Ward 8 continues. Recently, the facility received a six-month extension to keep its doors open from the federal government despite efforts from opponents to shut down the District’s only halfway house for men.

“We are open for business until April 30, 2020,” Phinis Jones, a spokesman for the facility, told The Informer. “I believe that the Federal Bureau of Prisons is working on the contract to give it to us permanently, possible in May 2020. While all the hoopla about Hope Village has died down, I think we have made the case that we are the only option for male returning citizens who need a halfway house in the city.”

The contract had an Oct. 31 expiration date, but Hope Village officials feverishly worked to keep the facility operating, and to thwart attempts by CORE DC to build a new replacement facility in Ward 5. CORE DC suffered a setback several months ago when developer Douglas Jemal pulled out of an agreement with no solid explanation to build a CORE DC managed facility in Ward 5.

All of this developed when CORE DC won the men’s facility contract for five years in 2018, and later Hope Village filed a protest with the Government Accounting Office to reconsider the award. CORE DC also had problems with Ward 5 residents’ expressed reservations regarding having a men’s halfway house in their neighborhood in 2018 with community consultation. D.C. Council member Kenyan McDuffie (D-Ward 5) also expressed strong opposition to CORE DC’s plan at that time.

While The Informer communicated with CORE DC media relations staff, the company didn’t respond by press time.

Barrington Salmon, a writer and advocate for formerly incarcerated citizens, appeared boggled by the decision.

“As a criminal justice advocate who knows first-hand what we can achieve when we commit to bold change, I have been dismayed by the failure to move on from Hope Village,” Salmon said in a statement. “Report after report shows that the conditions there are inhumane, and the operator has proven itself unable or unwilling to correct course. They’ve lost the trust of the local community. It’s high time for D.C. to bring in a new provider that can safely provide the quality services returning citizens need.”

Both D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) and Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) have stated a preference for a men’s halfway house in the city. While CORE DC has the support of many returning citizen activists and progressives in the city, Hope Village has the backing of several advisory neighborhood commissioners in Ward 8.  And, when they served in office, D.C. Council members La Ruby May and Marion S. Barry were also supporters of Hope Village in Ward 8.

The Rev. Graylan Hagler, who supports a men’s facility in the city with a preference for one managed by CORE DC, said despite the Bureau of Prisons extending Hope Village’s contract, the matter hasn’t been resolved.

“The Bureau of Prisons has extended Hope Village’s service until the matter with CORE DC can be sought out,” Hagler said. “This does not mean that Hope Village is getting the contract back.”

Jones said Hope Village remains as the only option for District male returning citizens to complete their sentences in the city.

“We have been here for 40 years, and there is no reason for us to go,” he said. “I know District residents don’t want to go to Baltimore or Delaware to finish their sentences when they can do that here.”

James Wright Jr.

James Wright Jr. is the D.C. political reporter for the Washington Informer Newspaper. He has worked for the Washington AFRO-American Newspaper as a reporter, city editor and freelance writer and The Washington...

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