DCRA News | Staying Informed and Staying Protected

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March 2021 Edition

A Message from the Director

Director Ernest Chrappah Headshot


This year has presented the District and our wider community with unparalleled challenges that have demanded significant changes—both to meet the moment and to prepare us for the future. With this in mind, and the completion of DCRA’s Vision 2020 Strategic Plan, DCRA has developed a new strategic plan to guide the agency over the next five years.

The plan was informed by a diverse range of stakeholders, including community leaders and advocates, industry experts, and our workforce. With this valuable input, we centered the plan around three core values: Safety, Perpetual Improvement, and Transparency. Achieving key strategies within this plan will help us live up to these core values and ensure DCRA is “future ready,” with the capacity and capabilities ahead. Together, we will:

  • Promote the safety of DC residents by completing 100,000+ housing inspections in the next five years.
  • Transform our daily interactions by regularly achieving 90%+ consumer satisfaction.
  • Continue to open our doors to accountability and transparency by serving as a navigator for the people who rely on our agency to get things done.

We invite you to partner with us and hold us accountable as we navigate this new normal and work to create the DCRA of the future for the District of the future.

View the DCRA Five-Year Strategic Plan

DCRA Director Ernest Chrappah Signature

Ernest Chrappah, Director

This Week Is National Consumer Protection Week

DCRA is celebrating National Consumer Protection Week this week. We hope that you have followed us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn where we have, and continue to, educate consumers on their rights and how to protect themselves from fraud and common scams.

Topics have included:

  • Consumer Protection: How We Protect You!
  • Protecting Yourself from Fraud During a Pandemic
  • Is Your Rental Licensed? Scout It!
  • Consumer Rights and Tow Trucks in the District

Here in the District, during fiscal year 2020, the Consumer Protection Unit (CPU) recovered $151,000 for consumers by aggressively pursuing unfair and deceptive business practices. This fiscal year, the CPU has already recovered $31,000 in funds for consumers so far. We are also surpassing our commitment to close 85 percent of all cases within 30 days – in January and February, 100 percent of all cases were closed within 30 days.

As a reminder, DCRA can open investigations:

  • Where losses total $250 or more, or there is a pattern or practice of abuse (be sure to file your complaint within three years of the incident);
  • For vending-related complaints; and
  • Where suspected instances of price gouging associated with the coronavirus (COVID-19) as well as reports about businesses operating outside of the Mayor’s Orders during the public health emergency (select the category for "Mayor’s Order COVID-19" for these types of complaints).


Submit a Consumer Complaint About a Business

Changes in Electrician Licensure Through Reciprocity | New Opportunities for MD and VA Electricians

In support of the Board of Industrial Trades, and under the leadership of Mayor Muriel Bower, DCRA is pleased to announce that Master Electricians (licensed in Maryland) and Electrician Journeymen and Master Electricians (licensed in Virginia) are now eligible to become licensed in the District of Columbia through reciprocity, thereby eliminating the need for examination and streamlining the process for licensure. This makes it easier for electricians to work in DC, but also benefits consumers by increasing competition and the supply of electricians from which consumers may choose.

To submit a license application through reciprocity, please visit the DCRA Board of Industrial Trades website at electrical.dcopla.com/account/login. If an applicant does not yet have an account, they will need to create one to be able to apply.

Click here for more information or contact DCRA’s Occupational and Professional Licensing Administration using our online inquiry form, via email at dcra@dc.gov, by phone at 202.442.4400, or through live chat found on dcra.dc.gov.

DCRA's Small Business Resource Center Celebrates 10 Years of Serving District Residents and Businesses

DCRA launched the Small Business Resource Center (SBRC) in 2011 to provide training and consultation services to customers seeking more information related to DCRA services. The SBRC has one goal: “Make it easier to start a business in the District of Columbia.”

Through the SBRC, customers can access trainings, workshops, seminars, one-on-one technical and educational assistance and other services at no cost— and virtually. One-on-one counseling sessions include individualized business planning, management, marketing, sales, procurement, strategic planning and first-hand access to financing resources.

SBRC Manager Jacqueline Noisette

As we approach the 10th anniversary of the SBRC, manager Jacqueline Noisette answered a few questions to reflect on the many achievements, successes and growth that she has seen in the department over the years.

Q: What led to the creation of the SBRC?

A: When we would go out into the community, we were continuously hearing from people that they needed help understanding how to go about starting a business. With this in mind, our aim was to create a way to meet each customer where they are in the licensing process and help them with the specific challenges they’re facing.

Q: From your work over the last 10 years, does a particular business come to mind that the SBRC has helped?

A: Xavier Brown, a black farmer, was a customer of the SBRC. He owns a company called Soilful City that makes a fantastic hot sauce. I’m really proud of what he’s been able to achieve.

Q: How has the SBRC evolved over the past 10 years?

A: Before the current public health emergency, the biggest change was technology. Prior to going completely virtual, customers were requesting their one-on-one sessions be conducted over the phone instead of coming to the building. Customers can now apply for their business license completely online without having to meet someone in person.  The number of partnerships for conducting workshops is growing. In 2011 when the SBRC started, we had 130 one-on-one sessions and no workshops. In 2020, the SBRC conducted more than 1,500 one-on-one sessions along with 58 workshops with more than 1,500 attendees. 

Q: What is the future of the SBRC?

A: The SBRC is working on programs to help people looking to enter the rental market. The SBRC will also provide more step-by-step guides for people looking to start highly-specialized businesses.

Starting in March, the SBRC will begin offering evening one-and-one sessions twice week from 5pm-6pm.

Q: How do you measure the success of the SBRC? How do customers respond? Do some ever appear to be overwhelmed by all the available information?

A: We get customer feedback every day. Customers are often overwhelmed with joy. We walk them through the entire licensing process free of charge—customers have an open line of communication and a direct point of contact throughout what often feels like a stressful process at first.

Neighbor Notification Program | Easier Access to Permit Applications and Plans

When an adjoining neighbor is undertaking a construction project, the District has laws, regulations and policies that help protect you and your property. One is the requirement to provide notification to adjoining neighbors of certain types of construction work. To make plans and construction documents associated with a project more accessible, DCRA will be streamlining the Neighbor Notification Program and moving documents associated with permit applications online using eRecords, DCRA’s electronic records management system. With this change, neighbors will be able to view the permit application and documents at their convenience.

2017 District of Columbia Residential Energy Conservation Code Training

Please join us for the 2017 District of Columbia Residential Energy Conservation Code Training scheduled for Thursday, March 11 at 9 am, hosted by the DCRA and the National Capital Region Building Code Academy. 

The information presented will provide a clear understanding of:

  • Key changes in the 2017 DC Energy Conservation Code
  • Insulation and fenestration requirements by building component
  • Use of equivalent U-Factors in design
  • Air leakage standards and testing for ducts and buildings

Through the sharing of this new information, architects, engineers, and contractors should be informed and empowered to gain quicker energy plan reviews and inspection approvals.

Click for More Information About This Training

Metropolitan Police Department Safety Tips | Stolen Cars and Packages

A Reminder from the Metropolitan Police Department - Prevent Auto Thefts

Additionally, to reduce the risk of having your mail or packages stolen, below are a few tips to follow:

  • Track deliveries online and confirm delivery has occurred. You can sign up for email notifications to track your package from initial shipment to its arrival at your home, or the recipient’s address if you have the gift delivered directly.
  • If you know a family member or neighbor will be home, ask them to pick up the packages as soon as they are delivered. Reward them with fresh baked cookies.
  • Switch delivery location to work where it can be received by someone and not left on the porch.
  • See if the post office or store the product is being shipped from can hold the package for pick up.
  • The post office will allow your package to remain safe and secure for up to 30 days.

For more information about how to protect yourself and your vehicle from theft, please visit the MPD website.