This NARPAC addition was stimulated by January's huge recall of 728,000 trucks and SUVs for
a minor problem which has so far been reported to have impacted on only 63 vehicles, and
possibly caused one non-fatal injury. There is a formal federally-legislated procedure obliging
manufacturers to report such mechanical defects, and make good on the repairs. These consumer-
protection laws are taken seriously, even though a) most of the effected vehicles are seldom
around for more than a decade, and b) annual follow-on models certainly eliminate these
as soon as they are identified to save costs and both corporate and national reputation.
Shortly thereafter in February, 2005, the US Supreme Court handed down an important decision
intended to limit the proliferation of frivolous class action suits. It requires them to be filed only
Federal courts rather than lower courts. The Justices clearly recognized, however, that class
action suits are still appropriate when/where circumstances are sufficiently egregious.
NARPAC has often noted over the past six years that no similar procedures exist
for recalling and
"repairing" failed students even though their impact on the American society
and economy is enormous and certainly egregious. Such human "products" a) are
around for six more
decades; b) do inestimable damage (often lethal) to themselves, their cohorts
and their communities; c), very frequently perpetuate their failures through
their disadvantaged progeny; and d) compromise their local, regional, and national
In order to bring home this failure of the American public education system, NARPAC has
prepared this section in three parts: first, a purely imaginary one-page "class action suit" that
should be filed in the local federal district court, along with some sample supporting data;
an equally imaginary "educational deficit report" which follows the outline of documentation
required by the Federal Highway Transportation Safety Administration (FHTSA); and finally, a
preliminary design for a "recycling center" for teen mom dropouts, adult poor, and some
homeless. Such units would be located on existing school properties, paid for primarily by the
of surplus school property and the proceeds of "dirt rights"(underground) parking facilities, and
least partially staffed by volunteers from the affordable housing units included. It may well not be
the final solution, but like President Bush's social security privatization initiative, it will serve its
purpose if it becomes the first step in resolving a major long-term American problem. There is no
more fundamental American problem than breaking the cycle of urban poverty.
NARPAC has no resident lawyer on its staff, and the following imitation class action suit is a
figment of our imagination:
Whereas the DC, a city of some 550,000 residents, was granted home rule some 30 years ago;
whereas some 80,000 still live in poverty; whereas the life expectancy of DC residents is still
almost nine years below the American norm; whereas some 30,000 still have less than a 9th
education and 55,000 more lack a high school diploma; whereas some 25,000 kids have been
to teen-aged unwed moms, as many as 10,000 to kids below the age of 17; whereas some 30,000
boys have dropped out of school and 30% have been, or still are, involved in the criminal justice
system; whereas some 7,000 have been killed, mostly by other young DC residents; whereas the
school system has wasted as much as $700 million on surplus school properties; whereas both
Local and Federal governments deny the city needed revenues by supporting practices and
policies which perpetuate thousands of scarce and fixed acres of relatively undeveloped land;
whereas the Local and Federal Governments together have spent $6 billion maintaining those in
need but surely less than $60 million on decreasing their dependency on public subsidies by
equipping them for employment, or even parenthood; and whereas the core city now attracts 40%
of the metro area's poor, with only 12% of the taxable wealth to sustain them; we the Aggrieved
find both the Federal Government and the District of Columbia Government derelict in their
duties to their citizens and residents.
We, the aforementioned Aggrieved, do therefore petition the Federal Government to require and
assure that the Local Government, in obligatory conjunction with its jurisdictional partners in the
metro area, redirect its priorities and resources towards alleviating and redressing the lifelong
disadvantages accruing to DC residents who have not been provided an education sufficient to a)
enable their pursuit of an independent and law-abiding American lifestyle, or b) to avoid
on their progeny a similar fate. We envision a systemic change which produces a better and more
effective education for DC's children coupled with a "recycling" program to recall and repair the
deficiencies afflicting those presently condemned to highly visible lives unbefitting any
In consideration of DC's limited revenues and resources, we further petition Federal Authorities
to compensate DC indirectly for these mandatory expenditures through greater assistance in
meeting the unique capital investment needs of our national capital city and metro area.
This web site has hundreds of references to problems in DC caused by inadequate education.
Below are five additions to the collection, based on recently available information:
A recent Washington Post article (1/13/05) suggested that DC health statistics lag substantially
behind those of most states, but look better among cities, according to the latest
('03) "Big Cities Health Inventory". This report is available online and NARPAC has produced
the possibly confusing summary chart below. It ranks the various health indicators with DC's
worst measure first when compared to other cites (brown bars) and to the entire US average (blue
bars). It shows that DC has about 3.4 times as many AIDS cases as the average of Big Cities,
about 7.8 times as many as the US average. At the other end of the spectrum, DC has about 3.8
times fewer moms that smoke compared to the Big City Average, 4.7 times fewer than the
national average. The only other indicators which put DC measurably ahead of the city pack are
suicides, fertility rates, automobile fatalities, and lung cancer. In fact, the nation's capital city
not look good compared to the average big US city:
The next chart pair compares the distribution of DC's poor by age group, compared
to the surrounding jurisdictions of the "Inner Metro Area". According to the
left hand chart, DC's poor are well distributed amongst all age groups, with
greater numbers among kids and retired people than several of the other jurisdictions.
The more illuminating chart is to the right, showing that DC has two to four
times as many people in poverty in each of the age groups as any of its neighboring
suburbs. These poverty levels are directly and incontrovertibly related to
lack of public education.
The third charts continue the analysis of DC's high poverty rates in every
age group. The left hand chart shows that although DC has only 16% of the inner
metro area's population, it has almost 40% of all the region's poor: almost
2.5 times its "share". But the more informative chart
is again to the right. It demonstrates the importance of the ratio between
those who require welfare assistance, compared to those of a working age capable
of providing tax revenues to support the needy. As the numerator shrinks, the
denominator grows making the ratio drop more rapidly. Hence DC ends up with
only 4 potential taxpayers (earners) per person in poverty, while its suburbs
end up with anywhere from 10 to 20 taxpayers per recipient. Again, a strong
educational deficit is to blame, and there is no way that the city's financial
structure can match that if its better educated suburbs.
The next chart shows how the total number of "temporary assistance to needy families
recipients varying across the fifty states, DC, and the other three "territories".
In fact DC, has more TANF families than twenty-one states (plus Guam and the Virgin
these figures cannot be worn as a badge of pride for the national capital city.
Finally, it is instructive to look at how DC's "educational deficit" reflects
on the demographic mix by gender among the age groups. Although the overall
racial mix in DC (according to the 2000 Census) was still 60% black (but still
slowly declining), black males (and would-be fathers) are significantly below
50% of all DC males (yellow background) in the age groups between 20 and 35.
Many of the missing males are incarcerated or the victims of major crimes.
In fact, after the age of 14, black males drop almost continuously relative
to black females, and again from the age of 50 on, black males are not a majority
of their age group. In these latter years, it is the poor health, and consequent
low life expectancy that takes its premature toll on the oversimplified racial
balance. It also tends to support the frequent observation that the black community
is basically a matriarchal society.
C O P Y
January 27, 2005
Ford Motor Car Company
Associate Administrator for Safety Assurance
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
400 Seventh Street, SW
Washington, DC 20590
Subject: Ford Recall No. 05S28 Certain 2000 Model Year Ford F-150, Ford
Expedition and Lincoln Navigator Vehicles and Certain Model Year 2001 F-150 Supercrew
Vehicles Speed Control Deactivation Switch
o Ford Action: Ford is conducting a voluntary safety recall involving certain 2000
model year Ford F-150, Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigation vehicles equipped with speed
contol and certain 2001 model year F-150 Supercrew vehicles built through August 7, 2000.
Through our ongoing investigation in response to the National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration (NHTSA) information request on the subject vehicles, we have identified an
increasing number of reports on 2000 model year F-150s and Expeditions that allege fires related
to the speed control deactivation switch performance. As a result, we feel it is in the best interest
of customer safety that we take this action.
Number of Vehicles: Approximately 738,490 vehicles in the United States and the
Effect on Vehicle Operation: The speed control deactivation switch may, under
certain conditions, overheat, smoke and burn.
Service Procedure: Initially, as an interim repair, owners will be instructed to return
their vehicles to their dealers to have the speed control deactivation switch disconnected. As soon
as replacement parts are available (expected early April, 2005) owners will be instructed to return
to the dealers for installation of a new switch.
Attached is the detailed information required by the applicable portions of 49 CFR Part 573
Defect and Non-Compliance Information Report.
(Not reproduced here, but includes 12 headings: potentially affected vehicles [including
involved assembly plants]; estimated population of vehicles potentially affected; estimated
percentage of affected vehicles with the defect condition; description of the defect; chronology of
events; service program; press statement and dealer/owner letters; recall number; and ending
date for reimbursement eligibility. These form the framework for the draft information report
prepared by NARPAC below.)
C O P Y
Why Not Establish an Obligatory Recall Program for Deficient Students?
Using the NHTSA reporting system as a model NARPAC has conjured up a similar deficiency
report for DC's unsuccessfully educated kids over the past 30 years. Compared to the confirmed
damage done by 738,490 Ford vehicles, which have an average useful life about10% as long as
American people, the damage done by disadvantaged humans is far more serious. The reader is
warned that the statistics included below are all rough approximations, and is encouraged to
improve on this hypothetical draft:
D R A F T
45CFR678* Educational Deficit Information Report DC00E01
Certain DC Resident Adults and Other Parents Inadequately Educated by the
District of Columbia Public School System
Director, Office of Education Deficit Remediation (OEDR)*
District of Columbia Public Schools
825 North Capitol Street, NE
Washington, DC 20002
Administrator, Education Deficit Remediation Agency*
US Department of Education
400 Maryland Ave, SW
Washington, DC 20202
(* currently, of course, non-existant)
678.9(c)(2) potentially affected DC residents;
Any of the students that have passed through DC's public schools may have developed some
variation of the debilitating deficiency. Most of them will have spent some time in one of DC's
senior high schools listed below between 1975 and 2005:
Anacostia Senior High School
678.9(c)(2) estimated population of DC Residents potentially affected;
Ballou Senior High School
Bannecker Senior High School
Bell Multicultural Senior High School
Cardozo Senior High School
Coolidge Senior High School
Dunbar Senior High School
Eastern Senior High School
Ellington School of the Arts
McKinley Technology Senior High School
Roosevelt Senior High School
School Without Walls
Spingarn Senior High School
M. M. Washington Senior High School
Woodrow Wilson Senior High School
H.D. Woodson Senior High School
On the order of 150,000 to 200,000 kids have attended DCPS since 1975.
678.9(c)(2) estimated percentage of potentially affected DC Residents with the defect
As many as 30% of the above students (45,000 to 60,000) may have some level of significant
678.9(c)(2) description of the defect and its impact;
The primary observed defect is the failure to achieve a minimal functional education and to attain
functional literacy. This is known to produce the following long-term, often life-long societal
effects: the inability to earn a living above the poverty level; the far greater likelihood of raising
kids also unable to break the cycle of poverty; far higher birth rates to unwed teen-aged kids; far
higher crime rates among the counter-cultural teen-aged boys; far poorer health among the
affected population and their offspring; far less stable and nurturing family households; gradual
and often irreversible neighborhood decline and blight in the areas where the affected population
tends to cluster; far lower home ownership rates with an attendant fear of capitalism; far less
capacity for daily mobility in quest of preferred jobs; far less desire or capacity for mobility
towards higher quality of life elsewhere; neighborhood and classroom conditions that drive away
the more capable, independent households; a demagogic political structure pandering to the poor
and blaming their plight on others beyond their control; a strong tendency to corrupt the
American capitalistic democracy into a socialistic welfare state; local operating budgets
disproportionately focused on ministering to the disadvantaged; higher taxes and fewer city
services to those city residents that are contributing to the city's common good; less funding
available for essential capital investment; lower consequent economic growth and infrastructure
modernization rates; an inferior reputation and quality of life compared to other relevant
jurisdictions within the metro area and other American cities; and significant damage to the
of the American national capital city.
678.9(c)(2) chronology of events;
There has been a slow but steady decline in the educational effectiveness of DC public schools
ever since the well-intended, but poorly implemented, desegregation of the DC Public School
System, and the advent of a somewhat reactionary home rule government anxious to provide
better jobs and opportunities for less experienced residents. The first elected mayor for the city of
Washington DC was installed in January of 1975.
It should be noted that 10th Grade drop-outs in 1975 are only now passing the age of 45 and
should be at their most productive as parents, community members, and income-earners and
taxpayers. And just as obviously, those who drop out of DC's public schools are far more likely
than their better educated peers to still be on the public dole in DC in the year 2050. With only
15% of the Inner Metro Area's population, DC is afflicted with over 40% of its individuals in
678.9(c)(2) service program;
There is no substitute for providing an environment in which various forms of education can be
provided to marginally-willing deprived adults, near-adults, and future adults who in large
measure feel rejected and abandoned by "the system" in which they are trapped. The most
susceptible to remediation are likely to be those who dropped out of high school "by accident" or
necessity and are now saddled with dependents and an un-nourishing local environment. These
mostly teen-aged moms also have the greatest influence on the "educability" of the next
generation of public school kids at high risk of failure. The major element in this proposed
citywide effort is to generate a welcoming and productive environment is which selected
candidates can help each other escape from an unacceptable quality of life with the help of their
communities and schools. For details see the following hypothetical
design for a family of "New Hope Group Homes" to be built on existing DCPS school
678.9(c)(2) press statement and dealer/owner letters;
Press statements will be made in the near future, followed by regular updates and progress
reports. Letters will be sent to all the effected schools, and to all the Ward-level and ANC-level
officials who could nominate candidates (of any age) to take part in the recycling program.
678.9(c)(2) recall number;
678.9(c)(2) ending date for reimbursement eligibility
There is no foreseeable end-date to the requirement for these "recycling centers" because the
public school system is inescapably still generating additional kids with a serious education
caused by a home environment which the schools cannot be expected to overcome.
D R A F T
NEW HOPE GROUP HOMES A
objectives and assumptions
The purpose of this exercise, which some may find grotesquely insensitive, is to try to visualize a
suitably manned, self-perpetuating, physical facility on available underutilized land which is
devoted to "recycling" human beings who, regardless of the reason, have slipped (or are destined
to slip), into an inextricable cycle of poverty right here in the USA. This approach is predicated
the basic assumption that the debilitating "cycle of poverty" cannot be broken by trying to offset
family failures in the lower grade classrooms. NARPAC believes that it is the adults that
must be inspired to make a better world for themselves and their very young kids.
The "recyclable" inputs are threefold: 1) the often-unmarried, often-illiterate, often-teen-aged
moms (TAMs) and their often-more-than-one small offspring; 2) individual grown-up poor
(GUPs), often the elderly who have fallen into, or often never left, debilitating poverty,
the working poor; and 3) the currently homeless persons (CHPs), sometimes temporarily, more
often for keeps.
The proposed facilitators who perform the 'recycling' are 1) a handful of caring community
individuals and/or charities (where are the black churches in this extensive debacle?) willing to
oversee and contribute to the process; 2) a set of working family residents (WFRs), comprising
conscientious, two-parent households (with or without their own kids), preferably already
employed in city jobs that do not pay enough to provide adequate city housing; 3) a small cadre
(non-emergency) health care providers to operate an on-site health clinic; and 4) the three
categories of "input" disadvantaged in the previous paragraph, everyone of whom are capable of
helping one another in some valuable way.
The primary intended annual output is a set of one-year older moms with the same number of
offspring, who now have all the rudiments of two practical educations: 1) the ability to find work
and independence for themselves, and even more important, 2) the competence and confidence to
inspire their offspring to educate themselves out of poverty. The secondary outputs are to
sufficiently empower a good fraction of the adult poor to find the will and the skill to struggle
away from poverty; and to give some fraction of the participating homeless the time, the respite,
and the ambition to work themselves off the streets and steam vents. The tertiary outputs will be
set of government workers, be they teachers, cops, or bureaucrats, with a far better understanding
of the needs and capabilities of some of the city's most disadvantaged.
facility design fundamentals
The intent of the facility, then, is to put together a modestly-sized 'critical mass' of elements that
can generate a successful output at a reasonable net cost, using, to the extent possible, the efforts
of the group home residents themselves. We envision that those efforts would be complemented
only by a few medically-trained clinical personnel, perhaps on rotation from existing medical
organizations, and some kind of charity-based part-time volunteer "house mothers (or fathers)"
during hours when the WFRs are otherwise occupied at or away from the home.
We have imposed an additional space constraint consistent with our overall objectives to relate
these efforts and facilities to the system that failed them, and that was failed by them: DC's
School system (DCPS). NARPAC has demonstrated
elsewhere that there are far too many DCPS properties, and in many cases far too
much property associated with a school. It appears possible to evolve an L-shaped building
which can sit on one corner of a school property, with a footprint no more than half of a half-acre
lot (FAR=0.5max), and a height which does not overpower the host school building (3-story +
attic max). It appears reasonable that the school population itself could provide special assistance
for its satellite facility in the form of teachers, special maintenance needs, or even students to
provide "buddy" services and/or baby sitting.
In addition, this type of community-based operation could also begin the apparently challenging
task of weaning away from scarce hospital emergency rooms the many strapped local residents in
need of primary medical care. A recent comment in DC's local "e-mail discussion forum" from an
experienced emergency room doctor reflects the opinion of many of his peers, that DC's intention
to build a new hospital to replace the now-closed DC General is ill-advised:
"The DC Hospital Association web site reports that on average 25% of acute care hospital beds
are unfilled each day. Virtually all morbidity and mortality in the District result from
heart disease, obesity, diabetes and other diseases that are best handled by primary care facilities,
not by emergency rooms and not by acute care facilities (and I say this as an emergency room
doctor). If our elected officials would focus on people's health care needs instead of their own
political health, no doubt they would come up with a better use of $100 million than building
another hospital in DC."
The longstanding tradition of DC's disadvantaged residents to use emergency rooms as virtually
their only source of medical care will clearly be difficult to break (particularly if they are not
educated from a young age as to the alternatives). The root causes are doubtless a combination
of familiarity, ignorance of regular medical procedures, convenience, lack of insurance, and last
but by no means least free transportation. This last practicality is yet another potential
service that might be provided by residents of this new community facility.
NARPAC also believes strongly in the multiple use of scarce properties to generate more (or just
some positive) revenues. While others think in terms of 'air rights' (putting one
building above another), we often think in terms of 'dirt rights' (putting a second use
under the primary use). In this fantasy design, then, we hide a major half-acre off-street
parking garage beneath the group home. For security reasons, it could well have no
direct access at all to the building above. However, it would use contemporary parking technology which can
substantially increase the number of vehicles per unit of space. In addition (hopefully) to
increasing generated revenues, it could provide skill training for the participating unemployed
(GUPs and CHPs) so they could gain employment in similar garages eventually to be used more
broadly throughout metro areas.
Here then, are the floor space allocations carefully divined from the ceiling as an opening gambit.
Readers should feel not only free but obliged to improve on them:
Teen-aged Moms (TAMs) and their Offspring:
The young women chosen for this 'recycling', often tripped up in their attempts to grow up, are
the primary target for concentrated catch-up education, both for their entry into the workplace
and in their pursuit of motherhood. We guessed that 16 would be a reasonable (even) maximum
to teach in one class, and would also provide a stimulating smaller number for interactive
in two separate classes. Two small separated living rooms (400 sqft each) would be provided,
near the apartments, the other near the classrooms, and the permanent residents as well.
Many of these TAMs have tripped up more than once. We envision accommodating up to 24
young (mainly pre-school) kids. The youngest would sleep in their mother's individual 400 sqft
o"studio apartments". The somewhat older ones would share the youthful comradery of "bunk
rooms" (800 sqft each for boys and girls). There would be a common 700 sqft indoor
"playroom", adjacent to a 200 sqft "nurse's room" (where guidance could also be provided for
the range of welfare issues). Monitoring the bunk rooms and playroom would be a shared
responsibility of the TAMs.
Working Family Residents (WFRs)
NARPAC opined that about twelve fully responsible adults should live in this size of group
If each adult offers four scheduled hours of guidance to their wards per week, that can
generate 48-hours of classroom (or other instruction) time per 6-day week, or a full 8 hours per
day. These families have 1200 (4) or 1000 (2) sqft "suites" for themselves and their (assumed)
kids each. Their kids are assumed to be uninvolved in the group home activities, though
one can easily imagine otherwise. These (presumably older) kids might attend the adjunct school
and could provide powerful role models from such 'regular' American families. The six working
families would have access to a common 900 sqft third-floor deck
Other Poor (GUPs and CHPs)
With no particularly binding rationale, NARPAC felt that it would be appropriate to provide
ground-floor "efficiency" apartments for 8 single adults (well) below the poverty line. We wanted
enough to form one or two congenial social groups (amongst themselves), but not so many that
they could outweigh the inputs of the responsible WFRs. For those GUPs that need help in
reading or other occupational skill development, they would be treated much like the TAMs
where possible. On-the-job training would also be highly desirable if properly supervised.
Managing the parking garage presents one opportunity. Helping in the kids' or community
cooking and staffing the on-site convenience store are others (see below).
It is further assumed, however, that each of these probably lonely souls will participate in the
guidance and development of the TAMs and their offspring. We are in essence suggesting the
equivalent of one substitute(???) (grand?)parent for each two TAMs, and one (great?)grandparent
per three offspring. We would assume that these persons will participate as much as 20 hours per
week in group home activities (including chores), and offering all important exposure to the
wisdom of one's elders (including their views on poverty, and how to avoid it!).
With equally little formal logic, NARPAC felt these homes should include (controlled) exposure
to the homeless. Call them anti-role models if you wish: the living proof of just how bad things
can get, and for perfectly ordinary people at that. Like displaying for teen-aged kids those lethally
crumpled wrecks caused by car accidents, or black lungs preserved in jars for would-be smokers.
The CHPs would be selected for both their desperate poverty and their mental normalcy.
It would be particularly valuable if some of them consider themselves only temporarily
homeless, and could contribute to various instructions from reading to comportment. We picked
separate bunk rooms and common bathrooms (perhaps only one gender at one group home) for a
total of ten, isolated from the rest of the home and with a separate entrance. We believe that this
will be enough for the GUPs to help tend, in addition to their obligations to the TAMs.
The primitive "artist's rendering" below is intended to provide some sense of the size and
configuration of typical group home. These units would be constructed on a corner of several
current public school properties designated to remain in a properly down-sized DC school
They would be built atop underground parking garages to provide a source of income and
possible on-the-job training. The top (third) floor would be devoted to "affordable" apartments
for city workers and classrooms; the second floor to "efficiency apartments" for teen-aged moms
and their young kids; and the ground floor would provide austere quarters for single poor adults
and the homeless, plus the other amenities described below:
Other Group Home Amenities
The most basic objective of these centers would be to provide opportunities to learn those
fundamentals required for full entry into the American socioeconomic milieu. We chose to locate
two very ample (600 sqft) classrooms (separated from the TAM living quarters with all their
distractions, including their kids!) on the third floor near the adult affordable housing units. We
suggest a third classroom of the same size on the ground floor which would be configured
differently (more maturely?) to be used primarily for adult education of the GUPs and CHPs.
Three other facilities are included on the ground floor. The smallest and simplest would be a
office near the front door for a respected community representative who can serve as a part-time
counselor or confessional; the minister of a local church; the "house mother" of a college dorm;
the concierge of a small hotel; and/or the bouncer at the local club. Surely there is a need to keep
these diverse groups respectful of one another. It could also be an opportunity for "on the job
training" (OJT) for any of the three groups being helped. Finally, it might be an opportunity to
bring the much vaunted local churches, their pastors, and their lay leaders into the relief of real-
Second, we included a convenience store, not only for its convenience, but for its potential value
as a teaching tool in the rudimentary fundamentals of retail trade: from inventory control and
pricing, to customer relations and responsibility. It would be intended to serve the local
community well beyond its own walls, and actually become a source of some revenues to the
home. Properly encouraged, many of the staples it sells might be contributed from larger
businesses in the city, from Peoples and CVS to Giant and FreshFields. We guessed at a 400 sqft
area, not unlike some of the smaller stores springing up at gas stations.
Finally, NARPAC has included a substantial 900 sqft kitchen/cafeteria arrangement where any of
the participants in the home, including the homeless, might find reasonably priced cafeteria-style
meals (tending more to home-made, food stamp-compatible, family fare than fast-food menu).
The operating of this significant facility would be a joint responsibility somehow shared by
agreement of all the factions active in the Group Home. GUPs may be cooking, CHPs may be
washing up (in return for dood), TAMs may be learning how to prepare meals and/or wait tables.
It is on the one hand, a group home necessity, and on the other hand, another business
opportunity. If they get good enough at it, they might be able to attract the larger nearby
community, possibly even satisfying some of the eating-out desires of the adjacent
as well as school kids and faculty.
We also assume that this facility might well serve the "take-out" needs of the various residents.
WFRs, TAMs, and GUPs would all have some level of kitchen facilities in their own quarters,
certainly the ability to keep and reheat pre-prepared meals. The common cafeteria might well
prepare portions for resident consumption at other times, thereby limiting both the selection and
the possible waste from too broad a menu with too uncertain a clientele.
NARPAC has very little foundation for estimating the floor space needed for a community
primary care medical clinic, but takes a wild guess at three clinician spaces, one nurse's station,
and a waiting area, each at 200 sqft. for a total of 1000 sqft. Separate off-campus access would be
provided. Obviously, it could also provide an excellent opportunity for OJT.
adjunct school facilities:
It would obviously be desirable to enlist the support and assistance of the real public school on a
corner of whose land this "recycle center" now sits. Properly encouraged but not overwhelmed,
the real school, with roughly 100 times the "student" population, should be able to provide part
time teaching, counseling, coaching help, to say nothing of minor maintenance assistance, or
some on-site entertainment and sports functions. And the smaller adult facility may be able to
return some of the favors in kind: classroom or cafeteria assistants, or the constant reminder of
the anti-role model.
The two annotated aerial photos below show the approximate size of the proposed group home
compared to the size of two school properties eminently qualified to host group homes: Paul
Charter Junior High (left) and Wilson Senior High (right). Note that each school is within a block
or two of a major intersection and/or metro station. Center left of Paul School is the intersection
of Military Road, Georgia Avenue and Missouri Avenue, just beginning to enjoy redevelopment.
Center left of Wilson High is the intersection of River Road and Wisconsin Avenue and the
Tenleytown metro station where the neighborhood is gradually accepting moderately higher
Allowing others to design corridors, stairwells, closets, etc, this preliminary doodle requires
9500 sqft on each of three floors, with significant separation between the four resident groups.
The second floor is entirely devoted to the TAMs and their kids. The working families take most
of the third floor, plus the classrooms for the TAMs, and one communal space where the TAMs
and WFRs might interact. The ground floor is devoted to the poor and homeless, plus one
classroom, and common facilities such as clinic, kitchen/cafeteria, and convenience store. There
expected to be no direct access between any of the four groups to one another, except through
outside entrances or common areas. Our fantasy allows some 15% of total available floor space
for hallways, etc.
The diagram below shows a rough allocation of floor space for each of the three floors:
Initial and Operating Cost Estimates
These "recycling centers" co-located on half-acre lots on the edges of current school properties,
would not, of course, be without costs. And it is part of NARPAC's fantasy that these costs
would be remarkably reasonable in both net capital investment costs and net
On the Initial (Capital) Investment Side:
NARPAC estimates that a 32,000 sqft modest residential building, complete with an automated
garage for 250 cars can be constructed and equipped for between $8 and $10M without any
special contributions or offsets from local businesses. Since each center is designed to house six
affordable housing units, it seems quite likely that some kind of offsets might be
NARPAC also estimates that there are probably two dozen too many school properties in DC for
its still falling enrollment projections. If they average a 250,000 sqft building on four acres,
NARPAC also estimates that it should be possible to sell off the average surplus school property
for $10-14M to commercial developers.
We therefore conclude that up to two dozen such centers can be built and equipped from the
of currently surplus schools: a very significant conclusion which certainly deserves further expert
verification. If true, it makes possible to undertaken the operation without substantial debt
On the Operating Costs Side:
A fully occupied operational center would include 6 affordable family households
whose subsidized rental payments should certainly be sufficient to provide full maintenance for
those efficiency units, and perhaps the costs of utilities for the entire building. Remember that
some minor rent reductions would be offered to those householders willing to take on part of the
supervisory/educational roles for the primary residents in learning.
The 16 teen moms with their 24 offspring would not, of course, be expected to pay
their way, though certainly some fraction of their various welfare payments, including food
could be pooled for the benefit of the entire group. It is likewise assumed that these teen moms
would take turns at various home chores from cleaning group common quarters and classrooms,
to cooking common meals.
The 8 proposed single adults in poverty would also be expected to contribute effort
and some of their welfare benefits in return for a home and the opportunity to improve their
chances for leading independent lives. They would be expected to help the teen moms in certain
their chores and benefit from the OJT opportunities in convenience store, cafeteria, clinic, and
The 10 homeless would provide little if any assistance in cash or in kind. Some,
however, may well be able to provide chores around the home, and certainly provide advice on
how best to avoid their current circumstances. It is by no means inconceivable that some
members of this cohort could provide teaching services, if only from the school of hard
NARPAC has virtually no expertise in assigning values to Food Stamp or TANF benefit
payments, but guesses that the 18 single-person households could receive food stamps worth
$120 each, the 16 2-person households in poverty might bring $240, and the 8 3-person
households might bring $360. Equivalent TANF payments might at best double those, bringing
the total applicable welfare payments to some $17,500 per month for 42 poor adults with 24
young kids. With the economies of preparing common meals, these welfare payments might well
provide all food and other sundries associated with group home living and bulk buying from
The largest potential costs would be in providing professional teaching, counseling, and
supervision services. This could involve (a wild guess of) a maximum of six full-time employees
earning perhaps $40-50,000 annually for some 12,000 hours of work. How much of that could be
obtained from volunteer services is by now means assured. Four hours per week from the 12
floor residents would be helpful (2400). Eight hours a week from half the 18 single adults in the
home could bring in another 3600 hours, making up half the needed hours.
How much time could be volunteered from the staff of the adjunct public school? How much
might be offered by community volunteers arranged by local churches, or even local ANC
groups? How much time might be donated from DC businesses looking for properly trained
level employees? How much time might be volunteered by local and federal government
employees? With sufficient community involvement, and/or the support of sponsoring city
members, it should be possible to generate several additional man years. The major problem,
however, would be to find one full-time accountable leader for each home that accepts
responsibility for the proper and continuous operation of the group home. Ideally, that person
would probably be on the payroll of the adjunct school.
Based on the foregoing, NARPAC thinks that it might be possible to staff a group home for as
little as, say, $100-200,000 per year. Not a bad price if the desired annual "output" can be
NARPAC has suggested that there might be several sources of income. Some of the adults might
be provided with limited part-time jobs paying near the minimum wage. Such income would be
quite limited, and should probably be kept by the residents for small sundries. The convenience
store and the cafeteria might sell their products to the neighborhood, and perhaps generate a net
profit of a few thousand dollars a year.
The only major income producer would be the underground parking lot, assumed to hold a
maximum of 250 vehicles, and assumed to be near some center of activity warranting such an
street parking facility. Estimating the parking usage at 150 cars for each of 300 days yields
parkers. Guessing at an average daily rate of $10, of which half might be applied to group home
costs, income from parking could well exceed $200,000 per year. This seems to be of the same
order of magnitude as the funding needed for a few paid employees.
In short, to a very crude first approximation, then, NARPAC concludes that a) the proceeds from
selling existing surplus school properties could well cover the initial investment costs of perhaps
two dozen group homes, and b) the operating costs of a satellite facility on existing school
properties might well be covered by a combination of attached welfare payments, the rental from
affordable housing units, and the proceeds from the underground garage. Surely these
'guestimates' are not an adequate basis for kicking off a major program. But they might well
justify a closer look by properly skilled organizations.
NOTE: Additional analysis on this key subject is contained in NARPAC's 2005
summary and commentary on DC's latest DCPS Strategic
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This page was updated on Jun 5, 2005
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