WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — Business owners and police officers are working to disrupt crime along the H Street corridor.
“This was a great first step,” said Jarrod Bennett, Director of Operations at Atlas Performing Center.
Tuesday, Atlas hosted a community meeting where business owners, neighbors and police talked openly about the ongoing issues on H Street. Together, the group discussed solutions and worked towards a plan to disrupt the day-to-day issues in the area.
“We have a lot of problems with people hanging out front of our store,” said Caisa Ebron, owner of Luxury Soil.
The boutique and dispensary opened about a year ago near the corner of 8th and H streets.
Ebron said loitering causes a nuisance on the sidewalk, with people crossing the street to avoid the crowd instead of walking past her business.
“They’re sitting out there, they’re talking mess. And it’s just annoying. We have a huge group and people don’t want to walk through that to get to our business,” she explained. “They’ll cross the street, go around, jaywalk to avoid that.”
Other problems exist too.
“We’ve had somebody who was under the influence banging on our door and broke our door. We had to have our door replaced, he had to be arrested,” said Ebron. “We also have issues with the defecating and the peeing in the back ally right at the back door, we have rats everywhere.”
A few blocks down the street at Atlas Performing Center, Bennett said there are often issues with unhoused people who need resources.
“Having people who are using the bathroom in the front of the building or on the sides of the building or sleeping under the marquee, we can’t have that. Because we can’t open the doors. And it’s an unsafe situation,” said Bennett. “I would love to see some type of mental health unit that we could call.”
“We wanted to hear from the community. They’re our eyes and ears, they see things from the ground level,” said District One Commander Colin Hall.
Hall said there has been progress on H Street.
“We’ve made some significant arrests, we’ve stood up a bike unit that’s out here every day and I think that’s making an impact,” he said.
Hall is hopeful that with Tuesday’s collaboration, progress will continue.
During the meeting, neighbors discussed a need for city departments to work together instead of in silos.
Ebron believes that starts at the top with direction from the Mayor’s office.
“Some of the comments were actually good ideas, having all the government agencies working together,” she said. “I think it was a good meeting. People took responsibility, people came up with answers, it wasn’t just deflecting.”