Residents were also unable to receive “essentials” such as hand sanitizer, toiletries and food from family members, Allen said, adding that those eligible for home confinement should be released.
“Without immediate action, a severe outbreak of COVID-19 in Hope Village and the District’s other [residential reentry centers] is inevitable,” the letter said.
Kevin Donahue, the District’s deputy mayor for public safety, said officials “have heard concerns from members in that community, friends, loved ones and attorneys” and had been in touch with the D.C. Corrections Information Council, an independent body that monitors conditions at facilities where D.C. residents are incarcerated nationwide.
“I have been on the phone with the head of that office,” Donahue said. “They have assured me they are having inspectors go into the facilities. They told me today that they were there today to inspect to make sure that they have the appropriate health supplies.”
Hope Village officials did not respond to a request for comment.
Bureau of Prisons spokesman Justin Long said the agency has no evidence that residents aren’t receiving essential items. He noted the federal agency is waiving subsistence payments that residents make to support their confinement.
“We remain confident that residents are being provided ample sanitary supplies to include soap, water, and other basic necessities,” he said in a statement.
Allen’s letter followed reports first published by WAMU that Hope Village residents were without essential supplies. Phinis Jones, a spokesman for Hope Village, told the station the reports were not accurate.
“All of this noise about no soap, no water and that kind of thing is just fabricated,” Jones said. “It’s just not true. We have plenty of soap, plenty of water in every building.”
Opened in 1978, Hope Village has often been accused of providing substandard care. It briefly lost its federal contract in 2018, gaining it back only after a legal battle.
Ron Moten, a longtime D.C. activist who advocated building another halfway house in Northeast as an alternative to Hope Village, said he went with a group Tuesday to try to deliver supplies to the facility but was turned down by staff. Residents were gathering for meals in groups as large as 30, he said, despite official attempts to limit gatherings to no more than 10 people.
“Hope Village is a mess,” Moten said. “The thing is a public health issue.”