Provocative ‘Gentrify’ Posters in Columbia Heights


Found these off 13th Street in Columbia Heights. Interestingly if you go to it takes you to DC Government’s Department of Housing and Community Development page on the Inclusionary Zoning Affordable Housing Program:

“Inclusionary Zoning requires that a certain percentage of units in a new development or a substantial rehabilitation that expands an existing building set aside affordable units in exchange for a bonus density. The goals of the program are to create mixed income neighborhoods; produce affordable housing for a diverse labor force; seek equitable growth of new residents; and increase homeownership opportunities for low and moderate income levels.”


21 Comment

  • This is a Grade A troll job by the artist.

  • It’s nice to see 12-year-olds making their art public.

  • Is this some sort of viral publicity campaign? goes straight to the website. Not exactly a call to arms against the mayor, the office of planning and the ZC.

  • I’m a little confused…do the posters mean to criticize inclusionary zoning with the argument that it causes gentrification or is part of a gentrification campaign? While I don’t know the particulars of the way DC’s program is structured, I’ve worked for over a decade in think tank, advocacy, and community economic development organizations that deal with these types of issues. In my experience, many affordable housing advocates actually see inclusionary zoning as a strategy for mitigating/managing gentrification, in that in general, IZ policies are meant to create and preserve affordable rental or purchase units for low- and moderate-income individuals in improving neighborhoods with otherwise-rising housing costs. You could certainly argue that we need more affordable units than IZ can create (or is creating currently), or that DC’s IZ policy needs reforms in order to be more effective–but to me, the idea that IZ = gentrification is pretty far outside the mainstream, as far as the affordable housing field goes.

    • gotryit

      Anti-gentrification propaganda is not based on detailed policies or facts. You might hurt your head trying to reconcile the two.

    • Actually, these kind of remind me of the TENAC flyers I see occasionally on bus shelters. What’s up with those? I feel as though I would probably agree with some of their underlying principles about tenants’ rights, but some of their flyers are just so off the wall (for example, comparing a public official to Hitler, or throwing in “everything but the kitchen sink” rants about leftist causes that are perhaps valid, but head-scratchingly unrelated to DC tenant organizing) that it makes their organization seem like it’s full of nutballs.

  • This will end well…

  • Housing policies are worthy of discussion, but calling people out via light pole art doesn’t make that happen.

  • Guaranteed these were made by trust-fund white kids who moved here 2 years ago.

  • One thing DC’s longtime and newer residents have in common is that NONE OF THEM SHOVEL THEIR GOSH DURN SIDEWALKS

  • Just to add fuel to the fire: I heard a feature on NPR not long ago about a study of urban gentrification that found that residents who had lived in a neighborhood before it attracted a wave of relatively wealthier residents, actually enjoyed a higher standard of living if they stay in their homes. They benefit from more proximate retail, improved schools, lower rate of violent crime, cleaner streets, improved housing stock around them, and better property values.
    The study was conducted by an economist who started out convinced that gentrifying was harming lower-income long-time residents, and his objective was to quantify the damage. What he found was quite the opposite, to his surprise.
    It must have focused on homeowners, and the story must be quite different for renters.
    I have not read the study, and I probably got some details wrong, but I’m sure you can listen to the report on the NPR website.

  • What’s Sinclair Skinner up to these days?

  • “Inclusionary Zoning requires…set aside affordable units in exchange for a bonus density” Why is there an incentive for inclusionary zoning? If anything, that may help exacerbate the issue, does anyone else agree? I would argue that the set-aside contributes to the frustration of those on both sides of the issue. A denser neighborhood, regardless of the status of those that live there, is undesirable. Make the law a law, no incentive. If some developers won’t abide, others will. In my opinion, DC has plenty of incentives to offer that don’t involve rising population density.

    • ” A denser neighborhood, regardless of the status of those that live there, is undesirable.”


      Start with a bad assumption, and that will skew everything.

    • It’s a legality. Simply requiring the units outright would constitute a fifth amendment taking; see HBA of Northern California v. City of Napa.

      Also, if “A denser neighborhood… is undesirable,” then why are many cities’ densest neighborhoods their most expensive (Logan/Dupont here, Upper East Side, Gold Coast) — and thus, as deemed by the free market, the most desirable? Why do you live in DC, which is the densest jurisdiction in the region?

  • WOW! I didn’t know we had so many ‘anonymous’ folks around! If no name- not serious comment?

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