Report documents hazards at D.C. homeless shelter

WASHINGTON — It’s been four months since 8-year-old Relisha Rudd vanished from the D.C. General homeless shelter, last seen in the company of a janitor there who later turned up dead. Her disappearance sparked an in-depth, Washington Post investigation into the shelter that turned up serious problems, including filthy conditions and abusive workers.

Justin Jouvenal, one of the Post reporters who wrote the story, tells WTOP that the behavior of Khalil Tatum, the janitor last seen with Rudd, is not unique.

“[Tatum] had gotten close to her by giving her money and other little gifts. And we found a similar pattern of behavior among other shelter employees,” Jouvenal says.

The report found 14 complaints of staff misconduct since 2012, including offering residents money for sex and photographing them in the shower.

Sanitary conditions are also lacking, the Post report says. Residents reported problems with water that was brown and dirty, often leading to rashes after showering.

“We found that there were nearly 30 people who were taken to the hospital, or needed medical attention, because of parasites, rashes [and] insect bites,” Jouvenal says.

The report adds that residents have gone days, sometimes weeks, without heat or hot water.

The shelter houses about 460 children.

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