Peaceoholics, the nonprofit as well known for its politics as working with at-risk youths, is severely downsizing after losing millions of dollars in earmarks. About 50 part-time and full-time workers have been laid off, and the group has until the end of the month to move out of its headquarters on Raleigh Place SE.
Co-founded by Ronald Moten, a friend of Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D), Peaceoholics received almost $8 million in city contracts in four years to help in its endeavors.
But last year, the D.C. Council grew wary of the group's involvement in the donation of a firetruck and ambulance to the Dominican Republic. The council also cut earmarks for all groups to help fill the budget gap.
The lack of funding has forced the group to squeeze into its administrative offices on the same street. Moten described it as a "one-floor house" where five employees can work comfortably. The group now has 22 employees, he said.
The headquarters, which costs $6,000 to $6,500 a month including utilities, can no longer be supported.
Moten said two things were to blame: "Vince Gray and his politics."
Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D) announced last week that he will challenge Fenty in the Democratic September primary.
Moten also added council member Harry Thomas Jr. (D-Ward 5) to his blame list, for distributing money tagged for gang intervention to other groups "that don't do the work" through the Children's and Youth Investment Trust Corp.
Moten said Peaceoholics could have used the money to continue its commitment, later noting that two employees who were laid off were assigned to the community where a drive-by shooting resulted in four deaths.
-- Nikita Stewart