Let’s Not Lose Perspective

So I was thinking we are freaking out a bit too much over crime.  Yes, it exists.  This we can all agree.  We need to be aware and we need the MPD to be vigilant.  But, thankfully knock wood, it doesn’t really affect our day to day lives (obviously if you have been a victim you may have a different perspective).  You know after reading many comments from recent posts, I’ve found myself being a bit paranoid.  So I’m walking to Looking Glass Lounge this evening and this big guy with dread locks yells over to me, “Yo!”.  And I’m like oh shit.  I didn’t think I was going to get mugged or anything I just thought I was going to get hassled.  And that is what happens when you are paranoid.  So I say hey.  And the guy turns out to be the nicest guy in the world.  He’s just looking for a friend’s house and we ended up walking together all the way down New Hampshire.  And the dude was super cool.  His Mom used to live in the neighborhood and he did too as a child.  Point is:  let’s give the benefit of the doubt when possible.  A paranoid life is not a pleasant one.  Yes be careful especially in the late hours.  But don’t forget to enjoy what makes this neighborhood one of the best in the city – the people!

49 Comment

  • Still, once the gun ban ends thugs will have to think twice before messing with someone. They may have gun on them.

  • POP Have you stopped carrying that shillelah?

  • Amen, PoP

  • If and when the gun ban gets lifted, I still don’t see the Council allowing concealed carry permits to be issued.

    And most muggers don’t yell “Yo!” anyway. They just hit you in the head with a brick.

  • Not all of them. Sometimes they just come over to you and put their arm around you and tell you that they have a gun and that if you don’t give them your phone or money they will shoot you. Or they walk you to the nearest ATM and demand that you give them xxx amount of money or they will shoot you. Trust me, they don’t always just bonk you on the head. Oh, and sometimes they are drunk/high so they don’t always make good decisions like hitting their victims with a brick before robbing them.

    I was very anti guns before I moved to this city 8 years ago. But since that time I have been a victim of a mugging, home robbery, auto robbery (multiple), and have witnessed crimes related to drugs, and even needless crimes. The guns should be in the hands of the citizens who need to protect themselves and their property. The criminals have guns why can’t a legal, tax paying and law abiding citizen be restricted from owning a weapon to protect themselves?

  • Too many people make excuses for the crimes committed by thugs, gangs, and baby thugs. I’m tired of it. Put these criminals in jail. Children who commit adult crimes should do adult time. If you threaten to kill someone becuase you want their phone and your underage then you can do adult time. Taking (or threatening to take) a life isn’t child’s play. Once you do that you have crossed the boundary into making adult decisions.

  • Let’s also not forget who commits the crime in the neighborhood – the people! If you want to reduce crime by thugs, the most effective means is to move the thugs out. Concrete steps should be taken to:
    * reduce the amount of low-income housing in the neighborhood
    * tighten requirements on who is eligible for housing vouchers
    * enforce regulations regarding “visitors” and “boyfriends” staying in subsidized housing
    * confiscate property following major drug crimes (even the threat of this will deter landlords from renting to suspected drug dealers).

  • So we’re supposed to end low-income housing, throw all at risk youth in jail, and esentially tell poor people they can’t have their friends over at their place. This coming from supposedly progressive urbanites? Man it’s rough being on the wrong side of the gentrification tracks!

    First, mixed-income housing have been shown to be the best way to bring economic revitalization and decrease crime to blighted communities.

    Second, crime prevention and outreach to at-risk youth is the only effective means of halting both adult crime and kiddy crime. Throwing a 16 year old into an adult facility only serves to make perminant that kid’s life of crime. They don’t get rehabbed in jail, they’re forced to join gangs, and get schooled by the older criminals on how to be a better theif.

    Third, as far as banning people who aren’t on the lease from visiting subsidesed housing is absurd. Banning them from living there? Yes. Fine. That makes sense. But telling people who they can and cannot have come over to watch a game or hang out is totalitarian.

    I’m ashamed of some of my neighbors responses. Good God.

  • I’m in total agreement. I’m all for mixed income housing. Why can’t DC do more of this? How hard is it to destroy the projects in Columbia Heights or Shaw and build mixed income neighborhoods in there place? This should be part of the cities plan in reducing crime. And there needs to be strong measures in place to get people off of welfare and section 8. If they can’t keep or get a job then reduce the benefit until they have to really try and keep it. As long as we make it easy for the poor to stay poor they wont change.

  • Well said, PoP.

  • ok- so the amount of low income housing has been drastically reduced in the last 5 years- check.
    housing voucher program suffers from an unreliable funding system and has tens of thousands of qualified people on waiting lists- check.
    go down to Landlord tenant court to see how many people are being evicted from public housing because of the actions of others- check.
    don’t know about the last one but it seems the city is well on its way to accomplishing your goal.

  • The idea that a concealed carry law would have ANY impact on crime is completely unsupported. I just posted something on my block about this, link from my name. If anything there is evidence that concealed carry laws may increase gun crime rates.

    Beyond that, what would you do if you were mugged? Yell “Draw”? The guy’s got a gun to your head. Or maybe you were planning to shoot him in the back as he runs away?

  • inm- the opportunity to have mixed housing has passed. the developers will not agree to this now that the buildings are built. it should have happened before the city allowed to let them build/develop etc. there’s no bargaining power now. the city essentially gave the “milk” for free. there are few places to build at all left in this area. i can’t even stomach the idea of tearing down the little subsidized housing left to build mixed income- the chance has passed. i blame williams and note his million dollar condo aquisition as proof that he sold his citizens down the anacostia to increase tax revenues that were being stolen by his employees. aaaahhh! nobody should be getting rid of anyone in this neighborhood.

  • Most of the new development coming to Petworth is MIXED HOUSING. As far as I know there are laws in place that require some units set aside for lower income tenants, both for rental units and for condos. Note, many of these are not any kind of “public housing” and some are set aside at prices that police, teachers, and other middle-income people can afford (and won’t be affordable to people on welfare). The new apartment building going up at Georgia & Taylor that’s going to have Yes Organic Market will have income restrictions, again mostly aimed at middle income residents. If you go to public meetings about new construction you’ll see that almost every building going up has to make some concession for lower income residences (even if only a few units out of a large building).

  • I’m the original anonymous poster who drew the ire regarding low-income housing. I’m not against mixed-income housing (although everyone agrees that large, purely low-income developments are a bad choice). But it’s a privilege, not a right. That’s my point. My tax $$ are going to support these folks, and it galls me that they and their kids are assaulting us and bringing the neighborhood down with illegal activity.

    As far as visitors, yes that’s what I meant. Non-family members *living with* the voucher recipient. Obviously anyone can come over for dinner and drink a beer – not my concern.

    As far as the city kicking out the poor… well, crime has dropped substantially over the last 10 years and lots of people suddenly find places like Petworth attractive to live in. Like (perhaps) you dear reader. Should you be ashamed? We have all benefited from gentrification, improved amenities, and reductions in crime. The hypocritical reaction is to move into a neighborhood because crime has dropped, and then criticize the policies that prompted you to move in!

    Ok… my rant is done.

  • Also note there is a brand new building at the Columbia Heights metro for low-income senior citizens – you can’t live there if your income is more than $33K per year (for a single person)

  • There are many new developments in planning, under construction or recently completed with affordable housing units in them. So I don’t think the opportunity has not passed.

    Second, while not an expert (few of us are), I do tend to think that concentration of “low income housing only” buildings in certain areas (I guess “projects” is the common term used) were a bad idea from the beginning, and should little by little, over a long period of time, be geared more towards mixed housing.

    Third, allowing guns at homes does make them more accessible e.g for those “baby thugs” someone mentioned, or people that are in a desperate situation economically or that may have substance abuse problems etc. and that might otherwise just commit a robbery with a knife. Or for heat of the moment domestic disputes. Or for kids playing with stuff they dig up from their parents drawers. No need to add more guns to the mix.

  • You can’t argue with the 2nd amendment.

  • you guys are kidding yourself if you think that low-income housing has been preserved. the boom in dc started in the late 90’s early 00’s and only since fenty has been in power has there been any plans to replace what was lost
    the senior home has 70 units, 1000 inquiries and a 3 year process to get in an apartment
    so before fenty:

    DC lost 2,400 affordable rentals and 9,400 affordable homes in just the period between 2003 and 2004.

    DC gained 4,600 high-cost rentals and 10,800 high-value homes over the same time period.

    Median rent increased by nine percent and median home values increased by 32 percent between 2003 and 2004, fueling the loss of affordable housing.

    In 2004 households below 30 percent of Area Median Income made up 73 percent of the households in DC that spend more than half of their income on housing costs

    I applaud the recent efforts but curse the short sightedness during the boom time. The government was literally printing money from developers- that was the time to make demands not now when the economy is shaky and the market is stagnant. don’t kid yourself into believing that a few middle income units in new builds in petworth is going to solve the problem. low income people are spending more and more money on rent and slipping deeper into poverty. i believe in fenty and hope the economy survives enough to reach his goals.

  • DC doesn’t need anymore low income housing. It needs affordable housing for the middle class. Let the suburbs shoulder some of the responsibility for housing low income residents.

  • Of course you can argue with an antiquated amendment. That’s why there are amendments and most constitutions have been amended and modernized many times. There is nothing inherently holy about a consitution, let alone an amendment to it.

  • Since this posting is about ‘perspective’ I thought I would offer an interesting perspective to which I was privy. A few years ago, I was asked by an illegal immigrant living in Petworth to explain why we have “low-income” housing in the United States. He didn’t speak any English and was perplexed by “low-income” people because he had just come from a country where the primary obstacle to employment was that there were just too many people willing to do too few jobs.

    He came to DC and within weeks had two jobs and was making far more money than he ever had in his life. On his way to and from work each day, he noticed all the unemployed, “low-income” people in DC and noted that many of them were perfectly able-bodied young people that seemed to have a lot of free time.

    He asked me how they supported themselves and we got onto the subject of low-income housing. He asked why the US provided low-income housing for people that didn’t want to work. I corrected him by saying that some people can’t work, and it is the responsibility of society to care for them. He said he thought that the US was providing discounted housing simply for able-bodied people that didn’t want to work. I said to him some people can and would work, but have difficulty getting jobs. The translation of his response was essentially “Yeah right, unlike everyone else here, I can’t even speak English. I have only been here a few weeks but I have two jobs and am making more money than I ever have in my life. ‘Low-income’ doesn’t exist in this country.”

  • I’m going to look at a sale property in Petworth this evening. I currently live in Columbia Heights and I love it, but these responses are scaring me. I’m a single girl – how unsafe is the area? It sounds like my chances of getting mugged are very high. If you live in Petworth, please give me some insight. Thanks!

  • Where are you looking, Just Curious? Petworth is a big neighborhood. I’m a single woman (not “girl” — you’re getting ready to buy a home, after all! You’re a grown up! 😉 and I’ve never had a problem. But other areas could have different flavors.

  • Yes, I suppose I should refer to myself as a woman now! 😉
    One place that I’m interested in is on 8th about 4 blocks from the metro.

  • Just curious, Petworth is probibly as safe if not safer than Columbia Heights.

    I think Petworth is pretty safe. That said, do not be stupid! Keep your ipod in your bag, always remain alert and do not hesitate to call 911 if you feel unsafe

  • I’m about two blocks north and a block west of the Metro. I’ve found it pretty quiet. But you know, before I bought, I scoped out the place big time — I even came around out midnight just to see what things looked like late (because obviously everything looks wonderful in the daytime.)

    I also used a criss-cross directory to call my neighbors (yup, total strangers) and ask them about the area. So don’t be shy — use all the resources at your disposal. Don’t rely on just one source, be it this blog, your realtor, or anything else.

  • Just Curious,

    I have lived in Petworth for a few years. I’m a small-ish woman and I’ve never had anything happen to me — and I walk home from the metro just about every night (usually after dark since I often work late). And nothing has happened to the friends I have in the neighborhood, either. There is a house with a bunch of kids a few doors down from mine, however, and I often get big hugs from them on my walk home.

    Petworth is quieter than Columbia Heights, and while I don’t have stats to cite to, my impression is that there is LESS street crime up here.

    Certainly don’t be scared off by some of the things you’re reading here. Check out the comments on the Columbia Heights . org bulletin board and you’ll see the same kind of talk (or more so). Anecdotes can be frightening, but they’re hardly reliable indicators of a neighborhood’s safety.

  • i’m sorry but i’m calling bull**** on the post about the conversation with the man who spoke no english and had two jobs. don’t believe a word of it unless the man was your relection in the mirror.

  • So you don’t think there are DC residents that unwilling to work? People on section 8 have a case of the entitlements. For example, this weekend I assisted a property manager with installing a brand new washer and dryer in this ladies apartment, an apartment that she pays nothing on, including the utilities. Her apartment was filthy and there was junk everywhere. She didn’t help move any of her crap when we trying to lift this heavy appliance. She complained when we made a little mess trying to get past her crap. The she had the nerve to say that it was ok for a standard model. WTF! She pays no rent or utilities (and lives in Shaw) and her house was filthy. She doesn’t work so I don’t know why she doesn’t have the time to clean. There is such a sense of entitlement in this city. That is part of the problem. Its all gimme, gimme, gimme with these poverty playas. She was perfectly capable of getting a job at Giant or CVS, but no, she doesn’t work because gets free place to live in a neighborhood that has homes selling for $4-500,000 plus.

  • So we’re supposed to end low-income housing, throw all at risk youth in jail, and esentially tell poor people they can’t have their friends over at their place. This coming from supposedly progressive urbanites? Man it’s rough being on the wrong side of the gentrification tracks!

    Barack Obama:

    “when they’re told that their fears about crime in urban neighborhoods are somehow prejudiced, resentment builds over time.”

    So stuff it.

  • In response to the one calling bull****, it does sound like a made-up chain letter since it is pretty vague, but it is a true story – send your info to PoP and I’ll introduce you to the guy. He speaks English pretty well now and is still employed in the area.

  • DCer, I think you are simplifying what people have said a bit.. (with a few “anonymous” exceptions perhaps; perhaps written provocatively on purpose).

    On the comment from anonymous andand his/her experience with an illegal immigrant, and the other anonymous calling it BS: I can completely believe the story is true, and probably a relatively common sentiment. However, at the margin at least some of the people that are legal recidents are being pushed out by illegal EMPLOYERS employing (and often exploiting) “illegal” workers. NOT saying that that effect is necessarily significant, NOR that there aren’t some people who are either unwilling or unable (for various reasons) to take low paying jobs.

  • Just curious,

    Crime is hit or miss in Logan, Shaw, CH, MtP, Petworth, Brookland or any of the nearby neighborhoods. If the development patterns hold (and I think they more or less will), Petworth seems to have the greatest potential for investment growth.

  • Just curious..check out Brightwood too 🙂 Much quieter than Petworth and ColHeights and only a few minutes away from both either driving or on the bus. we’re close to all of petworth’s goodies like moroni’s, etc….and we have some of our own stuff like the new meridian restaurant, colorado kitchen, and the old curtis chevy lot is being developed by the same people that did silver spring downtown (in a few years). the kennedy corridor is also getting a facelift…..taqueria df is coming over too.

  • It is all perspective. I am an average sized white woman who walks the pooch up and down GA Ave at all hours of the day and night. My only problem? It takes forever to get down the block because we have to talk to everyone. One late afternoon about a month ago, as dusk was approaching, I was walking the dog and started talking to this young, over six foot tall African-American man, coming out of the House. He asked if I lived in the neighborhood and if I thought it was safe to which I replied yes. He then said he felt unsafe, that he was from Mobile, AL (had I heard of it?) and he was hightailing it back to Bolling Air Force Base before it got too late. As I said, it’s all about perspective.

  • to Just curious, I’ve checked the stats on crime (robberies) around the metros at crimemap.dc.gov; Petworth has fewer robberies than U Street or Columbia Heights (or Adams Morgan, where I looked at 18th & U) so if you would be comfortable about living in any of those areas don’t worry about Petworth on the basis of crime.

  • Just curious — Again, another interesting thing I’ve noticed looking on the crime maps is that there are a lot fewer crimes around the ROC (the police offices/community center at 801 Shepherd St NW). So if you are looking at a place along 8th St, my $0.02 is that for many reasons the areas bounded by Georgia Ave, New Hampshire Ave, and Upshur Street to the north is one of the nicest parts of Petworth to live in, and has somewhat less crime than other areas. I am NOT saying things don’t happen here (they do) but in this area I think the crime is relatively lower and you are close to a lot of the nicest amenities (metro, Domku, renovated park at 8th & Taylor, and new Yes Organic Market being built at Georgia & Taylor).

  • I have worked with immigrants for several years and am married to one. The illegal guy who has two jobs is not a made-up story at all; I see this all the time. Legal and illegal immigrants in DC often work in restaurants during the day and have a part-time job cleaning offices at night. With no English, no skills (except for Central American farm work, not too marketable here in DC), a third grade education from some rural school in Honduras or El Salvador, relatives to support back home and a family here, immigrants routinely have to live this way. And are surprised to see native-born American citizens, with fluent English, seemingly unwilling to work. Maybe these immigrants are considered “poor” in the United States, but they compare their lives here to that in rural Central America and feel like they’re hit the lottery.

  • I wasn’t saying that there aren’t people like that in this country. I am glad you work with immigrants and are married to one. woo hoo. you would have to live under a rock in this city to not interact with immigrants. i think the key to your message is “seemingly unwilling to work”. just because it appears to immigrants that people don’t “want” to work doesn’t make it that simple. I am married to someone who crossed the border (southern) without being processed by immigration. that doesn’t mean that i don’t try to unravel the complexities that american society struggles with for him. ugh.
    and i am not so sure that he and his six brothers and sisters in this country undocumented would say they’ve hit the lottery when for example his sister who had a hysterectomy but works in a factory for 8/hr had to go back to work immed. becuase she doesn’t have sick days or any benefits in a factory that locks her in. i think they’d say there are jobs here and now they can afford material things. but their kids won’t be able to go to college because that is not a constitutional guarantee and they don’t have docs. i am not trying to be provacative on purpose but just trying to speak my mind.

  • I don’t merely “interact” with immigrants, some undocumented and others resident aliens with green cards. I’m not going into my professional business by saying what I do for a living. Suffice to say my interactions with Central Americans are much more than superficial. I don’t just say hi to them when they clean my office. This is a population who has so much to teach us. Perhaps I’ll take this line of thinking instead of commenting on the negative, unpleasant attitude expressed by the above poster, who appears to have a lot in common with me, yet prefers rudeness over solidarity. The immigrants I know have taught me about going to thrift stores, cooking at home to save $ instead of eating out, paying in cash instead of running up debt, being friendly and pleasant instead of letting everyone know you’re in a bad mood, a faith in G-d when so many educated Americans are agnostic. And I was supposed to be the one to teach them…

  • I can’t be in solidarity with someone who condemns one group of people and puts another group of people who haven’t had the same experiences on a pedastal. i think comparing immigrants and underemployed americans is like comparing the proverbial apples and oranges. i am glad that there are people out there who recognize the struggles immigrants face and how rich our culture is becoming with their increasing presence. i just wish you could see that denigrating some doesn’t make me want to march with you in support of others. who knows, my husband may have been your student and if so i thank you for your work. just dont agree with you on everything.

  • Thanks to everyone for your replies! It’s very helpful!

  • I’m sorry but poor people in this city who are Americans DO NOT WANT TO WORK! That is why illegals and legal immigrants can get these jobs that no one wants. If we stop the public support for this horrid behavior then I’m sure a lot of other social ills will be substantially corrected, such as crime.

  • The behavior I’m talking of is welfare and section 8.

    We really should be providing support to the middle class. They are leaving the city because it is too expensive and because the schools suck. We should subsidize people who hard for a living to stay in the city. It shouldn’t be the other way around.

  • Now that’s a blanket assumption.

  • This city is fast becoming a land for lawyers and third world poverty pimps. Where is the middle class? Where are the neighborhoods that reflect a strong middle class? Petworth is a neighborhood of two extremes.

  • I think Petworth is not a neighborhood of the two extremes. I bought a house recently, I work for a nonprofit, and I make below the median household income in DC. A lot of friends in the neighborhood who would probably be labeled gentrifiers because they are white also do not have giant incomes (I know several others who work for nonprofits or are teachers). I could buy a house because I have a great credit rating and housemates who help me pay the mortgage. (I got zero help from my parents to buy this house and have never inherited anything, btw).

    Sure, there a some houses on my block that have elderly retirees with very low income (but a lot of home equity). But Petworth does not have a lot of public housing (at least north of the metro) and has 80% of the homes owner-occupied. I don’t think my personal net worth is that different from many of my neighbors who have been here a long time. Last time I checked, too, two-attorney couples were not buying homes in Petworth anyway. There are a lot more extremes in neighborhoods like Shaw with a lot of public housing, and where rowhouses are selling for $600K and over.

  • The people who don’t want to work need to be pushed out to Maryland

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