“A Message From Our Neighbors” – “Stop Gentrification in Ward 4”


A reader sends from around 7th and Peabody Street, NW.

The Washington Post did a big article over the summer on the 78 year old, Milfred Ellis, who posted these signs:

“The 78-year-old retired analyst for the Bureau of Labor Statistics views his Brightwood community as a waning example of a strong middle-class black neighborhood. He wants to draw attention to the plight of black residents in the District, even if it means chiding white residents who already have moved in.”

200 Comment

  • Sounds racist to me.
    DC residents had 50 years to rebuild and make DC a better place after the riots. Now that it is becoming so, you blame everyone except yourself for the situation. Grow up.

    • Glad to know there is no shortage of racist and classist gentrifiers in the District, but we already knew that. Welcome home!

      • Read the sign. It’s classicist gentrifiers — as in “Gentrification Breeds Classicism.” Finally, an advantage for those who read Greek and Latin, who want to put columns and pediments on banks and archives and even farmhouses.

    • Blaming every black longtime resident of the district for the riots that happened here is as racist as blaming every white homeowner for displacing black residents.

      • THANK YOU. I was starting to think I was in an alternate universe with all of the praise for such an offensive comment.

      • Try reading more closely. He/She is not blaming such bitter longtime residents for the riots; rather, the 40+ years of crime, decay, violence, political corruption, local government incompetence, etc. that came after, turning the city into a national punchline. We’re talking decades of DC being drug- and crime-infested, with “longtime residents” continuing to proudly vote venal buffoons into local office. Now the city is finally turning around and this guy has the b*lls to chide his new white neighbors?

        • Agreed – the original comment didn’t say a thing about race.

        • But did they really have to to explicitly say it? I picked it up from the comment which was a response to a long time AA resident of DC. They may have not explicitly meant it that way but that is how it can come across even casually.

      • It’s not blame for the riots, it’s blame for not taking some initiative to clean up where you live, invest in where you live, and take pride in where you live, AFTER the riots.

    • Just wow. If you all can’t see what is wrong with this type of comment.

    • Look out, guys. I think the Washington Post commenters finally found Popville.

    • Actually no its not. No one could get a loan to start a business there , specially if you were a minority…but dont let white folk move in, cause then all the money in the world is freed up… we can complain the same way you do to the gov./county..but lets face it… a voice coming froma white face seems to speak or be heard louder…now that it looks half way decent they want to clain the city….jk.

  • I mean, there’s gentrification and there’s gentrification. I would think that Brightwood is an example of the good kind — house prices are rising at a reasonable clip so that people who want to sell can make some money, but not so quickly that people who want to stay are getting slaughtered on taxes; schools are improving; younger families are moving in to invest in the social infrastructure long-term. I’m not sure that I take “I don’t want any white people to live in my neighborhood” as a reasonable critique, particularly as the racial makeup of the District as a whole has changed so much. Also if you click through to the WaPo article it shows that the change in racial makeup of Brightwood over the last 20 years is actually an increase in Latino residents, and the number of white residents has remained steady.

    • I agree with all your points, except statistics that differential White vs. Latino. The census and most demographic measures treat Latino is a ethnic (as opposed to racial) classification….so you might have a population that is 60% black, 40% white and 30% Latino (some of which are black and some of which are white).

      • This is correct. You gotta be really careful to parse out the proper trends comparing Latinos to non-Latino populations, and then break down each one base on “race”.

    • It’s a misnomer and a red herring that people who want to stay are forced to sell because of tax increases. Property tax increases in DC are capped at a very very modest annual amount — and property taxes overall are some of the lowest in the country.

      If people were actually interested in staying and truly couldn’t handle the extra several hundred dollars per year in property taxes, they could simply tap some of their new-found equity in their house. They still make bank when they eventually sell it.

      • And lets not forget, if you’re over 65 you have the ability to reduce you property tax bill by up to 50% based on income. Its usually the elderly and retired that have the hardest ability to absorb property tax increased caused by gentrification. DC does have policies in place to help them.

      • You are mistaken in two ways. 1. the property tax increase is capped at 10% IF you have the homestead exemption, and still, assuming you have a mortgage, your escrow must increase to cover that (greater than 10%, but eventually you get the additional back…you just have a cash flow problem). Here’s an example: this year, my property tax held in escrow increased from $555 per month to $629 per month. An increase of 13% because I have to keep additional percentages in escrow to cover the eventuality that taxes will rise again. $74 may not seem like a lot to you, but when on a fixed income that barely moves with inflation, that $74 every month can be a deal breaker. 2. You can only tap new-found equity in a home if you have a mortgage. And to do so means that you are becoming more in debt, rather than less. Ideally, by the time someone retires, the mortgage is paid off. Are you suggesting they get a new mortgage to pay off property taxes? Then how do they pay the mortgage?
        Finally, to take advantage of a senior discount on property tax, length of residency comes into play. There are more rules than you know about.

        • But if you’re a longtime black resident, which is almost exclusively who is being discussed here, wouldn’t you certainly 1. meet the length of residency requirements and 2. have a homestead exemption?

        • “IF you have the homestead exemption…” And why wouldn’t you have the homestead exemption? It’s super easy to get and DC is actually quick to apply it to your tax bill.

          • There is no length of residency requirement for the 50% senior citizen deduction. navy is thinking of the tax deferral (where you can not pay all of your property tax), which does have residency requirements. The day you turn 65 or become disabled, you can apply for the 50% senior citizen deduction, even if you moved to the District in said condition (senior or disabled).
            And IF you don’t have the Homestead deduction, that means you’re not living in the property, which likely means you’re renting it, which means I really don’t feel the slightest bit of sympathy if you cry poor. You’re not being “forced out of your home,” you’re potentially going to need to renovate a rental property to make more money or sell it and go count your cash wherever it is you actually live. Boo hoo.
            You can also get up to 50% of any property tax increase back on your income taxes if you meet income requirements. When I looked it up several years ago, the cap was $54K for a family of 4 to get said credit (can’t remember if it was refundable).

        • Still, if you’re in this situation, your house is worth (or at least assessed at) over 900k. As you pointed out, by the time most people retire their mortgages are paid off. Given that the average American will never sniff anything close the the net worth implied by owning a 900k home outright, I think it’s hard for people to feel bad for you, cash flow troubles or not.

  • I admire his fortitude, but the issue here has little to do with race and is the result of a far bigger problem: The middle class in the US is rapidly vanishing.

  • Yes, we should fight classicism with every ounce of strength we have. I don’t want any hint of ancient Greek or Roman principles and style in my art and literature thankyouverymuch. It’s destroying our neighborhoods!

  • Wondering what the response would look like if a white person posted these in their yard (to deter blacks from moving into the area). News coverage? Rioting? Hate letters? Or just a few postings on a community blog…

    • binntp

      They’d get the GOP nomination

    • Like the rest of the country feels.

    • Oh, you mean like having covenants keeping blacks from owning property? Or perhaps by running them out of town threw threats of or actual violence? ‘Cause we have no history whatsoever of that happening in this country, ammiright?!

      • Right? Why do people think Petworth and Brightwood ended up as black middle class neighborhoods in the first place?

        • Exactly. I’d laugh at the irony of wealthy white people screaming racism over housing in Petworth/ Brightwood if it wasn’t so sad and ignorant. A lot of people here need to read up on DC history.

        • I don’t know about Brightwood but Petworth was originally a white suburban community and remained majority white through the 1930, 1940, and 1950 census. It only became majority black after white flight in the 1950s.

          Essentially Petworth became majority black because the white population was ‘scared away’ by desegregation.

      • the current situation is really far from that horrible history. gentrification is a cash cow for long time residents, not a restrictive covenant.

        • HaileUnlikely

          One could plausibly argue that gentrification is a cash cow for longtime *owners.* Without further comment on whether gentrification is a cash cow for longtime owners, as Justin and others have noted below, not all longtime residents are *owners,* and gentrification is by no means a cash cow for renters.

    • Blithe

      You don’t have to wonder –what you’ve described characterized much of DC and much of this country quite openly not too long ago, and, in many places it still does. If you don’t realize this, all I can say is: Just Wow.

      tldr: see Coates, TaNehisi.

      • I think this misses the point. There is no question that Blacks were barred from owning property in some neighborhoods in DC years ago. My home in Petworth was developed subject to a racially restrictive covenant. But I tend to think that a white person who put up a sign or tried to enforce a contract keeping Black people out of a neighborhood TODAY, would be treated much more harshly than this guy is being treated. It would probably be a national news story.
        I’m not saying this guy should be treated more harshly – he’s 78 years old.

    • figby

      When white people have endured the racism black people have for just as long, then you can ask that question.

  • Gentrification will continue to happen as long as capitalism and demand for a neighborhood/city exists. There isn’t a secret society putting pins on a map and saying, “Let’s gentrify THIS area.”

    • Eh, there most certainly is a “society” (in a very loose sense) going “let’s gentrify this area”, but they’re most certainly not secret.
      Capitalism has been sticking it to the middle and the poor for quite some time. This is hardly a novel phenomena.

      • If by sticking it to the poor you mean buying their house for $400,000 that they bought for $40,000, then please stick it to me. I’m happy to take my $400 grand and move.

        • But plenty of ppl want to stay in that area.

          Likely means huge property tax increases which hurt ppl on a fixed income I.e., lack of truly affordable housing in most of dc, etc.

          • If you’ve got $400k in equity in your house, you don’t need to leave the area to pay the taxes. Get a home equity LOC. Which would you choose: 1. My house appreciates so much I can’t afford the taxes, so I have to take out a home equity LOC. Now I “only” have $350k+ in equity to leave my children, but plenty of money that I can use to pay my taxes and the payments on the loan; or 2. My $40,000 house appreciates to $60,000, and I get to leave my children $60k. I’d take 1.

          • DC really needs to do a better job of informing its citizens of the property tax deferral programs available to senior citizens of limited means. This can reduced property tax liability by either 50% or 100% depending on the circumstances.

          • That’s complete bs for a variety of reasons:
            (1) The Assessment Cap Credit
            (2) Individual Income Property Tax Credit
            (3) Property Tax Deferral
            (4) Senior Citizen or Disabled Property Owner Tax Relief
            (5) Tax Deferral For Low-Income Senior Property Owners And Low-Income Property Owners
            Generally speaking DC bends over backwards to make sure low income homeowners don’t fall behind on property taxes. I challenge to find a single case of anyone in DC who was ever pushed out of their home because rising assessments caused them to fall behind in their property taxes. Even absent these programs owners of properties with drastically increased value could take out a home equity loan to pay.

          • Please. Give me this problem. These poor people just can’t afford the taxes on their $500K homes.
            DC has some of the lowest property taxes in the country. How can these rich people have the audacity to complain about taxes??

          • HaileUnlikely

            Lots of valid points here, but in all fairness, the guy in the story wasn’t bemoaning that he and his friends were in danger of being actively forced to leave because they couldn’t afford their taxes; somebody here fabricated that complaint. His actual complaint–however you feel about it–is that the neighborhood has become unaffordable for new working-class residents to buy into.

          • All of these comments are in response to Anon Spock’s apparent ignorance, not any of Ellis’ complaints.

          • Haile- at no point did I say mr. Ellis made such a complaint. My response was to the first anon only.
            Petworther- I’ve done taxes for low income ppl many being elderly, and part of our job was to inform them on tax relief. For example the individual income property tax credit is only available if your income is below 20k/yr.

            Annony- there are ample first time homebuyer programs in DC; what’s stopping you?

            The argument that someone with increased value shouldn’t complain is silly since that value is only realized when they sell which most don’t want to do simply because they’ve lived there for 30+ years. Some ppl also don’t have anyone to whom they can pass their home upon death, so no benefit there either.

            “They could just take out a.loan to pay their taxes…?” Why does that sound so normal to so many ppl?

            No one touched on my second point, sop I guess we all agree on that one.

          • justinbc

            Property tax increases are very rarely a concern that anyone upset about gentrification has. It’s honestly more about the fact that many of the affected people have lived in the associated neighborhoods for decades without owning their property and once the house values go up, and amenities finally come in, then the rent goes up, which is a much bigger, immediate concern.

          • Agree with Justinbc about rent being a huge factor in gentrification. I was “forced” out of the 11th st area back when it was being built up because the owner of the house wanted to renovate and sell it for three times as much (I’m sure he did). After that I found I couldn’t afford renting in DC anymore and moved to MD. When I decided to return to DC renting was just not within my budget. I was able to buy only because DC offers such great resources and help for first time owners. Brightwood was one of the only places I could still afford and I pay much less than I would if I was renting anywhere in DC.

            For other transplants who move into new neighborhoods, I think embracing the community and supporting local businesses is key to being part of positive change…

          • JustinBC brings up a great point – the vast majority of folks being displaced dos not own the property they lived on. So yes -someone- is catching some of the windfall, but it isn’t the greater community that’s being forced out.

        • Here’s the problem with the “If by sticking it to the poor you mean buying their house for $400,000 that they bought for $40,000, then please stick it to me” argument:

          Taking inflation into account, $40,000 in 1965 is worth $300,000 today. So there is a gain, but it’s not a ten-fold windfall.

          • Touché. Math, wow.

          • This makes no sense. We’re talking about home appreciation, not what $40k in cash in 1965 is worth today.

          • justinbc

            And the fact that those numbers are completely made up as a random example, so their comparative worth is zero.

          • And it’s not like they’re walking away with almost a half mil in their pockets. They still have to, you know, LIVE somewhere, and I don’t even know where I’d begin to look for a family home in a safe neighborhood in the area for $400k.

          • Huh, anon at 12:30, what are you talking about? Home prices should be adjusted for inflation to be put in proper context, just like the price of any other asset. Justin is right that the start and end numbers are only illustrative, but they probably aren’t too far off from reality. If this hypothetical homeowner put 20% down in 1965 then selling at 400k today would represent a roughly 5% real annual return on that initial investment, not counting maintenance costs and upgrades that are likely substantial. Not a horrible return, but still doesn’t beat the S&P over that time.

          • justinbc

            Real estate that you live in should never be compared to stocks that are investment. If you are talking about an investment property that you are renting out, that’s different. But the key part of owning your home is that you’re allowed to live there. That’s an intangible benefit that the stock market cannot relate to.

          • “would represent a roughly 5% real annual return on that initial investment, not counting maintenance costs and upgrades that are likely substantial. Not a horrible return, but still doesn’t beat the S&P over that time.”
            Also not counting the amount they’d be paying in rent instead of into home equity if they had invested their money in the market instead?
            Bottom line: these people aren’t victims. I have nothing but sympathy and disgust at the way housing was handled throughout most of American history, including the events that led to these being black neighborhoods in the first place. But the victims of the new trends just aren’t heartbreakingly sympathetic. They should figure out a way to help young black families in the current economy, and not breathlessly proclaim the old one, which was itself tainted with all sorts of injustice, could or should somehow be preserved going forward.

          • In the 60’s Anacostia was still majority white. Neighborhoods change.

          • Anon 12:05 is 100% right. For a family who bout in the 60s, the massive price increases since the mid nineties essentially just make up for the gains that family lost out on in the 70s and 80s because of racism. A house bought for 40k in Arlington or Bethesda in the 60s would be worth more now.

          • For real numbers, look to Shaw. A real $40,000 house in 2005, with no improvements, is easily worth ten times that now. Please compare your return on that to whatever your IRAs or bank accounts have been paying. Thank you.

          • HaileUnlikely

            We’re not talking about Shaw, though, Sydney, we’re talking about Mr. Ellis’s campaign to combat the gentrification of *Brightwood.* A house in the immediate vicinity of Mr. Ellis’s, which sold for $350K in 2005, with no improvements, would sell for about $375K or so now. Brightwood is clearly not as “hot” as Shaw is now, but it was never the slum that Shaw used to be, either. It’s been a solid working-class neighborhood for a very long time.

          • Sydney, I know the recent returns in Shaw have been great, but I’m not sure you could’ve bought a crack den in Shaw for just 40k 10 years ago, so not as great as you claim. Maybe 20 years ago you could have.
            Anyway, the 5% real return per year that this hypothetical Brightwood dweller would have realized is much better than the average 1-2% real return on housing across the country. I wanted to put the numbers in context – real estate is often such a long term investment that people think “wow! 10 times what she paid!” without accounting for inflation or what she could have gained in the stock market with her home’s equity. That said, the Brightwood homeowner didn’t do bad at all, and selling for 400k to whomever is certainly better for her as she heads into retirement than selling into a depressed rust belt housing market. People who bought their house in Cleveland or Detroit 50 years ago could probably tell you first hand.

          • you also have to subtract paying rent from any returns made on the stock market. buying is a no-brainer once you include that. if it’s an investment property, and you live elsewhere, then you can compare against the stock market. even if you bought in 2005, to compare rent to an average 2 br in shaw would be maybe $1200/month in 2005, increasing to $2000 in 2015 (those are really rough estimates), so maybe $200k paid in rent over that time, which would wipe out all your stock market gains and then some.

      • Really? I think capitalism is why the American middle class and the poor have iPhones, flat screen TVs, and affordable cars that are far safer and more reliable than expensive ones were a few decades ago.

        • Having a flat screen TV, an iPhone, and/or a car, doesn’t mean you are in the middle class.

        • Yes, capitalism also got us these things you mention. How is this related to our discussion of gentrification? I don’t think we’d get too far comparing the US to an underdeveloped country. Access to private transport, a cell phone, and the Internet are all arguable necessities for the vast majority of America.

      • My point I guess was that it’s more than just saying let’s “stop” gentrification. There are hundreds of factors at play, though it’s sometimes described as a binary decision that can just be “shut off.”

      • You do realize that capitalism is the reason a middle class exists in the first place, right?

  • Does he speak for an entire Ward? Perhaps he can take it up with the former Ward 4 councilmember who he most likely helped vote into office.

  • The Post could have interviewed my Irish grandma if they wanted a historical perspective on how people viewed blacks moving into that neighborhood.

  • I live next door to the Ellis’. They are the kindest, best neighbors I could ever ask for. This article, in my opinion based on having known the Ellis’ for the three years I have lived there, and based on our many conversations on issues of politics, that the article made something about race that really was not meant to be. I can confirm that Mr. Ellis is a decent, kind human being who is absolutely not a racist in any sense of the word. What he does want is to see Brightwood remain a place where working class families have a chance to get on the property ladder. What he wants to see is people like me, like his children, be able to stay in DC without being priced out. This may be a losing battle, or the push towards gentirifcation in Brightwood could be a losing battle – only time and the market will tell. But I certainly respect Mr. Ellis and his right to express his opinion.

    • In the WaPo article he goes out of his way to say it’s specifically about race for him, so I’m not sure you can say it’s misrepresenting his views to make it about race. I mean:

      “I don’t want people to come in and diminish the affordable housing stock for black Americans, because [black Americans] have nowhere else to go,” Ellis said. “There are plenty of places for white Americans to go.”

      That’s not about working class families. It’s about black working class families for him. And he can have that perspective, sure, but it’s a little disingenuous to say he’s being misrepresented when every quote of his in the article is about race.

      • But DC doesn’t really have a white working class, so that argument isnt applicable. Majority of DC’s white resident’s are college graduates and are on the higher end of the socio-economic ladder. This is not Philadelphia or Boston or Staten Island where the idea of ‘working class’ applies to more than one race.

    • Great. Well when he finally kicks the bucket, his estate can sell his house for $50k so it can be affordable housing to somebody else in the middle class. In the meantime, he’s a racist, and he deserves to be called out as such.

    • HaileUnlikely

      Thank you for posting this. I have not met Mr. Ellis, but I generally got the impression that the Post article was probably a bit lopsided, as what it presented seemed almost like a caricature. I can definitely sympathize with his perspective, though. I live about a mile north of Mr. Ellis, in Takoma. I’m a white guy in my mid/late 30’s. I bought my very run-down and thoroughly-trashed house in 2012, for a price in the mid $200K range, and have been renovating it slowly, mostly on my own, hiring plumbers, electricians, asbestos-removal pros, etc., only to do the things that I am unable to do or unable to do safely. I am immensely grateful that that house existed, and that I was able to buy it at that time, at that price, as otherwise it is unlikely I would have ever been able to afford to buy a house anywhere in the city, and would probably be priced out myself in the next decade or so. I am also somewhat sad that the opportunity that I had back then is on the verge of being out of reach for people with whom I have much of anything in common, as now many of my friends are moving far away, not to DC suburbs (also very expensive), but to Baltimore or Philly or various places in in the midwest. I’ll add, since everybody here is always so hyper-sensitive about their neighbors being out to get them and restrict their rights to buy, or sell, or build, or whatever, I’m not looking for some sort of magical legislative relief to make it possible for all of my friends to buy houses for $250K like I did, I’m just saying that I can sort of empathize with this guy, to whatever degree a thirty-something white new-homeowner can empathize with a 78-year-old black old homeowner.

      • Likewise. I’m white, and probably by many definitions a gentrifier (though I don’t have a lot of angst about it because I’ve lived here for almost my entire adult life and bought a house, at an affordable price, that had been vacant for 10 years, so I hardly pushed anyone out).

        I absolutely understand why many of my older neighbors feel the way Mr. Ellis does, and while his delivery may be inelegant it is getting people’s attention. Black people were pushed out of so many opportunities for so long, and the middle class civil servants in our neighborhood had a great deal of pride at the black neighborhoods they created under duress. It’s difficult to be forced into a neighborhood that white people no longer want, endure all manner of discriminatory policy that prevents you from living in other areas and then feel that even that small slice of land you were allowed is being pulled out from under you and your community when suddenly white people like it again.

        • I agree with some of this, but plopping 400k into your lap is significantly different from pulling land out from under you.

          • +1. The neighborhood changes and you don’t like it-fine I get it. But this has to be the best possible type of change. Longtime owners can cash out. Compare this to the stagnation of the rust-belt, or even PG county where property values are still below the 2008 peak.

          • It’s not about land qua land, it’s about a community.

          • “It’s not about land qua land, it’s about a community.”
            Yes, I think many of Ellis’ supporters miss his point. Either way, there’s plenty of blame to go all around on this. We could argue all day about who has the blame for the many years of corruption and decay in DC and wether gentrifiers are friendly. Ultimately though, the problem with decreasing availability of middle class housing has nothing to do with race, rather it reflects changes in the macroeconomy: The middle class is being hollowed out in the country as a whole, so there’s little demand for middle class housing. There’s no housing specific policy prescription that will solve that problem.

          • justinbc

            Thanks petworther. The lack of demand for middle income housing is really the key thing there. Look at any new building built in DC over the past 4 or so years, and I can almost guarantee you that it would be classified as luxury or some sort of quasi-luxury descriptors. There are very few “normal” apartment / condo complexes being built. And that’s on the macro level, you sure aren’t going to get middle income SFH construction. Comparatively inexpensive housing does exist still in the city, but it generally lacks access to much public transportation.
            As for getting mad at the gentrifiers themselves, if we’re talking about people actually wanting to live there, that’s just silly. Someone wanting to buy your home isn’t quite the same as them wanting to buy your wife, you should be proud that you’ve got something they want. You certainly aren’t being forced to sell it to them. If you want to channel that anger at someone do it at the people whose policies have made them on a higher economic playing field than you, it’s not THEIR fault that they’ve got good jobs in the city and want to live here (well it partly is, but the point is the system has been rigged for centuries to get them ahead).

          • Just to add to Justin BC’s comment – regulation is a big part of the problem too. One of the reasons almost all new developments in DC are “luxury” is the high cost of compliance: Developers are already constrained by the height limit, parking restrictions, affordable housing requirements, etc. once you add in years of negotiation with the ANC, DCRA,and depending on the neighborhood the HPO, the costs of construction in DC are enormous. The only way to make the financials work on new development is to go high end for most of the units.
            What DC needs is more “affordable housing” in the sense of market rate housing that’s affordable for median income wage earners. And increased regulation (e.g. the anti-pop up bill) supported by the anti-gentrification crowd is actually making that harder to build.

          • +1000 to Petworther. Anyone serious about affordable housing should untangle the process required to build anything in this city and the artificial zones that limit density in spite of surging demand.

          • I just literally do not see what either people in the neighborhood or people moving in can do, short of drastically under pricing their homes and making sure to sell them to working class families. That certainly doesn’t seem fair to the long time residents who own the homes. They should have the benefit of getting as much money as they can for their investment. So, I’m really confused as to what the point of this campaign is. Neighborhoods change. If you don’t want big condo buildings to go up in your neighborhood then don’t sell to developers.

          • HaileUnlikely

            One very simple and straightforward that a homeowner can do, when selling their home, is to actually list it rather than just accepting an offer from a developer who offers to buy for cash pre-market, and when reviewing offers, give at least some degree of priority to offers that come from a person or family who claims that they plan to actually live in the home, as opposed to an LLC or other developer. I get that some people have a real need to close more quickly and thus will end up selling to a cash buyer (likely a developer), and I get that in some cases a developer may offer a higher price than a would-be owner-occupant. I don’t begrudge an owner for selling to a developer under those circumstances. And I also understand that some people really do not care about combating gentrification and just want to sell ASAP for as most money as possible. That’s fine. My point is just that if a homeowner does wish to take an active role in combating gentrification, or at least do what they can to contribute to it less, they may be able to do that, without costing themselves anything. Especially in areas like that where Mr. Ellis lives, a lot of houses up for sale now are flips that were sold pre-market at values likely below-market to developers who spruced them up a little bit and then sold them at way higher prices for big profits. In such cases, the previous owners likely could have slowed the rate of gentrification somewhat by selling their homes on the open market and allowing owner-occupants to at least bid rather than selling straight to the developers.

      • It’s hard to complain about the piece being a “caricature” when he caricatures both himself and his positions with those ridiculous signs on his lawn.

        • HaileUnlikely

          His signs don’t say anything about race, however you might feel about what they actually say. Most people don’t get through a whole day without uttering a single word here or there that could be caricatured easily enough. I don’t know this guy, and it may well be the case that the article is right on the money and that Neighbor is being overly kind (as you can probably figure out, I doubt this very much, but I acknowledge that it is possible). I’m just not willing to jump down his throat over an article that is so one-sided that it reads as if the authors intent were to make him look as bad as possible.

      • I totally empathize with the homeowners – they have lived there a long time and see who can and cannot afford to rent much less buy in their neighbord specifically but in DC generally. I am a nicely paid federal worker that luckily bought in 1999. I got lucky on the timeing because in less than 6 months I wouldn’t have been able to afford my house. There would have been houses I could have afforded but the one I bought would have been out of reach. 15 years later I wouldn’t really feel comfortable paying the price for what is being charged for some of those 1 bedroom condos and I make more now than I did in 1999. I am not in the economic tier that developers are developing for or the buyer that is buying in the city now. I would hazard a guess that the majority of Popville readers aren’t.

    • Thank you for the deeper explanation. Trying to keep neighborhoods affordable to middle class families is a noble cause. And that fact is often lost on many people.

      • I don’t disagree with that. However, his quote in the Post:
        “I don’t want people to come in and diminish the affordable housing stock for black Americans, because [black Americans] have nowhere else to go,” Ellis said. “There are plenty of places for white Americans to go.”
        paints a different picture. He’s not trying to keep neighborhoods affordable for middle class families, he’s trying to keep his neighborhood black.

        • HaileUnlikely

          I’ll grant that what you say appears to be true. However, I can buy Neighbor’s argument that the article painted a different picture than Mr. Ellis intended. I am often interviewed by reporters as a part of my job. I receive special training for that, and I have a lot of practice, but it still happens occasionally that a reporter will take something I said so far out of context as to appear to support a position that is almost the polar opposite of the entirety of what I actually said. Thus, I don’t have too much trouble buying the possibility that a similar scenario may have played out here. (Not saying that it did or didn’t, just that I can buy that it is a legitimate possibility)

          • It’s a quote. Neighbor insists that race isn’t a part of Mr. Ellis’s mission, but when he mentions “black Americans” and “white Americans,” it’s hard to think of a context where he really meant “middle class.” People use coded words to avoid using potentially offensive racial language – people don’t use racially charged language to avoid saying “middle class.” Come on.
            Neighbor – here are two scenarios:
            (i) a kindly old gentleman is concerned about the demise of the middle class (of all colors) in his neighborhood, and puts up some signs about it, but when interviewed the nefarious reporter dupes him into using racially charged language; or
            (ii) the kindly old gentlemen next door is aggravated about the whitening of his neighborhood, but he knows he can’t say that, so he couches his signs in coded language. He’s also a genuinely nice and polite person, so when speaking to his (white?) Neighbor he doesn’t argue about these issues. Plus, he likes Neighbor personally – it’s the overall dynamic he doesn’t like.
            Which do you think is more likely?

          • HaileUnlikely

            I agree with you regarding which is more likely; I’d just rather wrongly give him the benefit of the doubt than wrongly attack him.
            I don’t think Neighbor claimed that race had nothing at all to do with it, just that race was not really his major motivator, and quote notwithstanding, I have no difficulty believing that. Especially in DC, where there is virtually no white working class and all of the white people moving into Brightwood are much wealthier than any of the long-time residents, I don’t find fault with an old black guy for desiring for more working class / black people to move into his neighborhood, and fretting about whether he frames it as a racial thing or an economic thing in this specific case is virtually meaningless.
            I live in a different neighborhood that is pretty similar to Mr. Ellis’s. Almost all of my neighbors are older and black, and they’re all friendly with me, yet more than one of them has expressed, with me or to me (white), disappointment–not animus, but disappointment–that none of new families moving into the neighborhood are black. And you know what? I’m completely ok with that.

    • If he wants this, I hope he is pushing to rezone this area for greater density so the rest of us have a chance to buy into the American dream.

    • The fact is, Brightwood was a community established post-WWII to accommodate working class black people who were unable to legally purchase property elsewhere in the District. Many of the homeowners are the original homeowners or only the second owners of their homes. The fact is, the reason WHY Brightwood exists was down to race. These owners were actively discriminated against and that is exactly why they ended up in Brightwood versus other parts of the city. Can you imagine how hard it must be for someone to have been through that? Actually lived it. Lived through segregation, lived through the riots, fought for their city to recover (which they absolutely did), lived through the Barry administration and the promise which he entered office with and the decay and corruption under which he left. Imagine living through the entire “plantation” era of DC politics. For someone who has lived through that, do you really think it would be so easy to let go?
      Furthermore, for better or for worse, racial issues have not gone away in our society. It is actually possible to have a conversation about issues such as maintaining enclaves for the middle class in which race is a part of the discussion without it being “racist”.

      • This is a reasonable comment. But it is also the exact opposite position you took in your first comment. You get that, right?

        • HaileUnlikely

          I am so perplexed by your comment, transplated, that I genuinely wonder if you meant for it to be posted somewhere else in response to something else.
          I don’t find anything unreasonable in Neighbor’s first comment (the one posted at 11:10 am), nor how Neighbor’s comment at 11:56 contradicts that one. The first comment was about Neighor’s personal knowledge of Mr. Ellis and what Mr. Ellis wants. The second one wasn’t about Mr. Ellis personally at all.

          • I can’t imagine how you would read the second comment as not being about Mr. Ellis. It’s in the thread that was specifically about Mr. Ellis, OP’s entire point was that they know him personally, and the comment goes on at length about living in Brightwood, through segregation and the riots and the recovery period and corrupt DC mayoral administrations. All specifics that were brought up in the article about Mr. Ellis, and are now being brought up again, by OP “Neighbor,” in a thread about how Neighbor knows Mr. Ellis personally and can speak to his motivations. I think it strains credulity to say that OP is not continuing to speak about the topic at hand.

            The first comment was “Mr. Ellis doesn’t care about race, he cares about class and is being misrepresented.” The second is: well no kidding race is the most important factor, here’s 20 examples of why it makes sense that it’s the focus! Those are both positions a reasonable person could take, but when the same person takes both they’re moving the goalposts.

          • People are accusing Mr. Ellis of being a racist. His neighbor is defending him against such claims while noting that race is indeed a major issue. It is possible to care about racial justice without being racist, and I thought that was obvious.

          • I think that you are misinterpreting my comments. My first comment said that I think the article was skewed towards making it a racial issue as opposed to a class issue. The second comment seeks to explain how race comes into play in the issue. Perhaps it would have been more clear to continue that thought process in my first comment, but saying that the article has a slant is far different from saying that race is not at play.

        • I disagree with you. My first comment was that he is not a racist and how his issues are more to do with class. My second comment is an explanation of why race gets brought into it, which was a response to those who said that he’s still a racist. I stand by my initial comment, my continued support for Mr. Ellis. My point is that race can be a part of the conversation without being racist. Race can, and should, be a part of the discussion regarding classicism.

          • I think it’s only a few outliers that are calling him racist; the kind of people that just live for the opportunity to feel put-upon. But I maintain that when you say “that the article made something about race that really was not meant to be,” you’re incorrect. Mr. Ellis’s position *is* about race. That doesn’t make him, or his argument, racist, but it’s not a class-based argument he’s making. He’s speaking specifically about race.

          • This is where I think the article is skewed. I think that the author of the piece had an agenda and that she asked the questions she wanted and got the answers she wanted. The signs in Mr. Ellis’ yard have nothing to do with race. I think making it about race is a great way to divert attention away from the class issue. Is race a part of it? Sure. Race is a part of everything. But that’s not even the main crux of the issue. That is my point.

          • HaileUnlikely

            One very simple and straightforward that a homeowner can do, when selling their home, is to actually list it rather than just accepting an offer from a developer who offers to buy for cash pre-market, and when reviewing offers, give at least some degree of priority to offers that come from a person or family who claims that they plan to actually live in the home, as opposed to an LLC or other developer. I get that some people have a real need to close more quickly and thus will end up selling to a cash buyer (likely a developer), and I get that in some cases a developer may offer a higher price than a would-be owner-occupant. I don’t begrudge an owner for selling to a developer under those circumstances. However, especially in areas like that where Mr. Ellis lives, a lot of houses up for sale now are flips that were sold pre-market at values likely below-market to developers who spruced them up a little bit and then sold them at way higher prices for big profits. In such cases, the previous owners likely could have slowed the rate of gentrification somewhat by selling their homes on the open market and allowing owner-occupants to at least bid rather than selling straight to the developers.

          • HaileUnlikely

            I apologize, the comment immediately above, which is of no relevance to anything being discussed here, was intended as a comment to something else further above. I clicked in the wrong place when posting it.

      • Brightwood developed as a community along the turnpike that is now Georgia Ave NW, grew again when Fort Stevens opened during the Civil War, and again when the Streetcar went up Georgia. Change is constant. Homeowners and renters have every right to yell at the tide, but that won’t stop the waves.

      • The end of housing discrimination is a double edge sword, it means anybody can buy a house anywhere and it’s based on the market rules (which means what the market bears) rather than race. So when people come knocking who are a different class and race and wish to pay what the seller is asking, possibly more, they cannot discriminate. Like it or not the nondiscrimination rules means previously red-lined neighborhoods previous racial borders come down. The way the rules work is a white person can buy in a black neighborhood and vice versa. This is what the anti-gentrification types do not get. Under the civil rights provisions, it basically means the market rules. If you try to make it racial in any way, it’s illegal. The truth is this is why there is NOTHING that can stop gentrification once it starts, because under fair market rules only the dollar is supreme. Anything else is considered discriminatory. Calling something a “black neighborhood” means NOTHING, nor does calling some place a white neighborhood. Like it or not…this means neighborhoods constantly change as there are no real racial boundaries and the original ethnic makeup really cannot be preserved, nor should it be. This is really for the better, as the market decides. But gentrification cannot be stopped, nor should it be, and this history is irrelevant. Keeping the racial composition, no matter what it is, is outright illegal.

    • I knew Mr. Ellis back when I lived in the neighborhood. Smart guy, good neighbor.

  • Too bad there will never be an article in the Washington Post about the people who move to Brightwood and put up curtains on their porch so they don’t have to see their neighbor.

    • I don’t understand this comment. I live in the heart of Brightwood and walk around Takoma-Brightwood-Manor Park regularly. I don’t see new neighbors “putting up curtains” so they don’t have to see their neighbors. In fact, many of the newly renovated houses have open porches as opposed to screened in porches. Don’t believe me? Just take a walk down Roxboro Pl.

      • I’ll walk down your street once you talk the the person who told me they were going to put curtains up on their front porch so he didn’t have to see his neighbor. You could also ask him to repeat all the other borderline racist things he said.

        Move where you want. Nobody is taking that away from anyone. What I think gets most these new residents mad is the influx of new people who want to remake the neighborhood with the stuff they like.

    • I only see a small number of houses with these curtains, and I don’t think they’re any more frequent among newcomers vs. long time residents.

  • Just happy to see this discussion. While the opinions range, most people are being civil with their disagreements and citing sources with data to make their points.

    Normally I only read the comments to see the loons. I’m pretty impressed with this complex discussion over a difficult issue.

  • We really need to be honest here, DC has a problem with racism. It doesn’t matter what happened in the past, we all know racism is wrong. To continue to hold people today accountable for actions of people that simply have the same color skin as those who did stuff to people with another skin color is kinda some childish 1400s type nonsense. It’s pervasive in this area and really needs to stop. No one here today was here in the 1860s, and I’m gonna go out on a limb and say most the folks moving into these neighborhoods weren’t here in the 1960s either. Racism is wrong on any side and thinly veiling it doesn’t make it any better, we all know what you’re saying. The country is changing, the cities are changing, the make-up of the component places are changing, it’s just what happens, anytime someone is standing in the way of natural changes, they should really look deep inside themselves and see if they are coming from a place of fear. Virtually every time it is and virtually every time they are on the wrong side of history.

    • Euclid, I’m confused about your statement. You state that “DC has a problem with racism” in the first line, but then go on about how nonsensical it is to hold people accountable today for acts done 50 – 150 years ago.

      Typically when people talk about “racism” they are discussing the systematic oppression of a group of people based wholly on race — a social construct based on physical traits, especially skin color. While racism is a world-wide issue, the history of race and oppression in the United States is more complex and ingrained due to the relatively short history of the United States as compared to the long-standing practice of American slavery which was followed by Jim Crow laws. And even after those were ruled unconstitutional in the fifties to sixties, there was still the, on-going, battle to the way racist thought had become ingrained into American culture.

      Read the comments section in major American newspapers on any given day and you can see a large amount of posters compare people of African descent to animals, savages, monkeys, etc. Similarly, there were/are a wide variety of beliefs that Americans had of the Natives who lived in this hemisphere before European colonization and the Asians who later immigrated here.

      In short, it is ignorant to think people today are relying on the “racist” practices of those who lived decades or centuries ago as the only evidence of racism in the United States. Yes, “the country is changing”, but social constructs die hard. And unfortuantely, racism — e.g.., the oppression of one group solely based on physical traits, religion and/or cultural differences; belief of superiority of one group over another – is still alive and well today.

      • I’m agreeing somewhat, but in DC the conservatives have switched sides. The power structure of the city and the conservative class (and by this I’m not referring to political conservatism, but those resistant to change), those that had typically been the repressed race in the history of this country, have become entrenched and are fighting the newer groups coming in. I would hope we lived in more enlightened times but unfortunately, the sides have just switched. There is racial bias inherent in the mechanisms of city governance and within the communities themselves. It’s just unfortunate that the fights of the past were not deemed to be for a universal end to race-based enforcement of hierarchical structures. I don’t expect a utopia, but I would like to see improvement each generation instead of just a replacement of the old structures with new groups just as firmly entrenched.

      • Beautifully stated. Thank you.

  • Why is this being posted now? Haven’t these signs been up for awhile?

    • Prince Of Petworth

      The reader sent the email about this yesterday. Obviously not everyone saw the signs nor the Post article over the summer. If the signs were no longer there I would get your point…

    • I also wonder this. I can only think he has to do with the people trying sell the two houses less than a block from us who aren’t getting the selling prices they expected and would rather blame it on signs than actual market conditions. Or the new folks who bought the most recent flip. The article came out over the summer and the signs were up for quite a while before then.

  • I do think this is about race, and to a less extent, socioeconomic class. As a young professional black male that has lived in DC for the better part of the last 10 years, I have struggled with finding communities where I accepted and welcomed. In certain neighborhoods I have been denied service, accused of stealing in restaurants, followed in stores, harassed by law-enforcement, etc. I preface by saying that I don’t condone any form of racism or prejudice; however, it appears that Mr. Lewis may not want to see his community change out of fear that he will not longer be accepted, respected and welcomed. This is a valid concern. Growing up, I was beat, choked and received death threats all because of my race. Its sad when people turn a blind eye to the racial issues that are still so prevalent in the US. Housing discrimination is still a serious issue. Employment discrimination is a serious issue. We can’t look at these issues in a vacuum.

    • justinbc

      They are most definitely serious, inequitable issues. But saying “we don’t want anymore white people here” isn’t at all the way to get them solved.

  • Huh, after working for the Bureau of Labor Statistics one would think he knew that refusing to allow people to purchase property based on race is illegal.

    • HaileUnlikely

      You skipped a lot of steps to go from what Mr. Ellis said to an illegal policy proposal that he did not make.

      • it’s one of the more obvious extensions of “stop gentrification in ward 4, ” given that you can’t simply turn off the market forces that are causing gentrification.

        • HaileUnlikely

          People here are so f*cking paranoid. Say anything except, “Ooh, X! Aaa, X! I love X!” and somebody takes it to mean “I am actively seeking to use the force of law to prohibit X!” Sometimes people just don’t like X, want to say it, and want to be heard saying it. I don’t like half the people on this forum, but I’m not seeking to get anybody jailed or deported or executed.

  • Sounds like this guy and his signs’ are describing himself. People are free to live wherever the hell they want (including this angry old man with his signs). I welcome more gentrification. I hope it comes swiftly and brings in all races of people to mix up this city even more.

    • “People are free to live wherever the hell they want (including this angry old man with his signs).”

      No they aren’t, which is the “angry old man’s” exact concern.

      “I welcome more gentrification. I hope it comes swiftly and brings in all races of people to mix up this city even more.”

      It does not and never has. Which, again, is the “angry old man’s” exact concern.

      • Wrong. He is completely free to live wherever he wants. No one is stopping him from moving to Alaska or buying a mansion in Capital Hill. Everybody has a choice. He can bitch and moan all he wants about what’s happening around him, but he always has a choice just like everybody else. Just like you have a choice to live where you want. I can’t afford to buy a mansion on Capital Hill, but that’s not stopping him from coming up with the cash to do it.

        • HaileUnlikely

          For the vast majority of the population, especially those who were within their own lifetime or that of their parents prohibited from living in certain places irrespective of [theoretical] ability to pay, or prohibited from holding certain jobs irrespective of their skills or qualifications, the “choice” to buy a mansion on Capitol Hill is about as meaningful as the “choice” to the Olympic champion in the long jump.

        • “Wrong. He is completely free to live wherever he wants. No one is stopping him from moving to Alaska or buying a mansion in Capital Hill.”

          This is not true and numerous articles attesting to that have already been shared here. Now you’re just being purposely obtuse.

          • I’m pretty sure it’s true. You have the freedom of choice to live where you want weather you’re angry about it or not. It’s a pretty nice thing we have in the United States.

          • the articles you mention basically state that minorities are shown 10-17% fewer homes when looking for housing. while still something to be condemned, that’s nothing like the systemic housing discrimination of the early- and mid-20th century when it was literally verbotten to sell to black people or jewish people. the current situation is still racism, but not something that limits anyone’s freedom to live anywhere they want.

  • The statistics in the article suggest that primarily Hispanic/Latino families moving into his neighborhood, with only a slight uptick in white families. There’s also an uptick in total number of residents, suggesting abandoned homes and new homes are being built, which is beneficial to any neighborhood. Regardless of who is moving into the neighborhood, race isn’t an indication of class or wealth. Black/Latino/White/Asian/Etc families all come in diverse wealth demographics and you can’t exclude someone based just on race and the perceived change you expected they bring to the neighborhood. Neighborhoods change, people come and go. Making someone feel unwelcome is worst of all.

  • Lots of people try to use the zoning system to keep a given neighborhood as it is, for themselves and other current homeowners, and they do so while claiming to be indifferent to the financial incentives. This gentleman’s sentiment isn’t dissimilar, though the solution is a little less concrete. People go insane when told to move rather than try to change the zoning to suit themselves, even though the need for building restrictions is generally evidence that home values have appreciated markedly. Whether or not you can afford to stay in a given neighborhood, you may want the neighborhood you have lived in for ages to reflect your values. There’s nothing new about this gentleman’s position; it’s just packaged differently.

  • This thread is full of cries of racism and punishment for past misdeeds, which read primarily as desire to absolve ourselves of the notion that we ever benefit from something that disadvantages another group. To declare that racist policy has no lingering effect or is no longer a reality is to ignore practices like redlining – which actively sought to punish black buyers while simultaneously incentivizing elective segregation. It is also to ignore that it continues to be a well documented phenomena that as black middle class families move into white middle class neighborhoods white folks leave, and housing prices decline. Or that banks are generally less likely to grant loans, especially if the qualifier has any bumps in their credit history, to black people. So, yes, technically black families ought to have the right to move any where they want, and greater home value ought to be empowering, but that simply doesn’t match reality. Racist and oppressive policy and behaviors continue to be serious considerations/realities for black families in real estate, and white people do need to continue to consider and reconcile with the imbalances that result.
    What’s more, and goes wholly unaddressed here, is that gentrification is not so simple as the cost of rent or taxes, but the effect it has on affordability of neighborhood as a whole, especially locally owned businesses. When upper middle class people move into lower income neighborhoods they very rarely support the small and local businesses in the area. Instead, they petition for Starbucks and Target or craft cocktail bars and high end restaurants – which is fine – but let’s not pretend that increasing the cost of living isn’t prohibitive in some cases; or that it doesn’t have real implications for older, smaller businesses. And those are costs that aren’t inherently fixed by your home being valued higher than it once was. And to suggest that people who can’t afford a place that they chose as their home, especially for multiple decades, should be happy to just take the money and leave is reductive, and ignores the investment and value these people get from their community.

    • Have you watched this season of South Park? I think your comment really summed up the theme. I feel bad for Kenny’s family… they didn’t ask for SoDoSoPa to be built literally around their home. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=miXMWJyOdgw

      IMO the real criminals are the developers. They’re taking homes that are livable for middle-class families and turning them into “luxury townhomes” – driving up the prices of neighborhoods.

      • +1 to “IMO the real criminals are the developers. They’re taking homes that are livable for middle-class families and turning them into ‘luxury townhomes’ – driving up the prices of neighborhoods.”

      • Developers are feeding the market. They are not conspiring to change the neighborhood. They are giving the people what they want. Don’t blame them, blame the buyers.

    • I agree with pretty much everything you said except the assertion that upper middle class folks move into lower income neighborhoods and petition for Starbucks and Target. Actually, they petition for non-chain, artisanal coffee shops and retail stores. But because rising residential values mean rising commercial and retail values, the only stores who can afford to open in these newly discovered areas are chains like Starbucks and Walmart.

  • A little off topic, but someone earlier equated the anti-pop up group as being aligned with or similar to the anti-gentrification. Am I the only one who doesn’t think those two groups are necessarily synonymous?

    • Not synonymous, but probably allied? For now, anyway.
      It doesn’t make much sense to me, since I think increasing housing stock (especially in a way that creates 2-3 lower-cost units from one higher-cost one, as in many pop-ups) would decrease displacement, but people who want to stop change stick together. Their alliance is precarious, but they make it work. As far as I understand it, Anti-gentrification types think changes like pop-ups induce gentrifier demand. Meanwhile, NIMBY gentrifiers think they can defeat urbanization of their neighborhoods and keep a quiet enclave adjacent to all the city’s activities, driving up their home values in the process.

      • HaileUnlikely

        FYI many of the streets in the area around where Mr. Ellis lives are zoned R2; pop-up or no pop-up, a developer can’t turn one house (which typically comprises one side of a duplex) into two or three condos. Thus, when developers buy in Mr. Ellis’s area, what they do is take a fixer-upper that somebody with skills and determination could buy, fix up, and enjoy, do the fixing-up for them, and sell it to somebody who is willing and able to pay a whole lot more, thus catering to an entirely different class of buyer, without increasing density at all.

        • This is a good argument for upzoning this area. If Mr. Ellis cares about affordable housing, he would petition to have greater density so that people can build multiple levels of affordable condos here instead of preserving it for the rich.

          • HaileUnlikely

            The reality is a lot more complicated than that, especially given that the existing housing stock there is quite modest by DC standards and is mostly occupied by families. Developers usually pick up the duplexes in this area for <$250K. If upzoned, developers would be willing to pay much more for them, quite possibly to the degree that it would become completely impossible for an owner-occupant to buy an unrenovated home there ever again. And the net result may well be that instead of a working-class family of four in their half of the modest duplex, you get three wealthier singles each in their own shiny little condo, and reasonable people can disagree regarding whether it is better to provide housing for one family of four vs. three singles, as they both have their pros and cons. Meanwhile, your comment regarding preserving the housing here for the rich is hilarious. I'd encourage you to check it out sometime, on paper and in person, and report back about "the rich" over at 7th & Peabody.

          • It’s a stretch to say the result would be shiny condos for three singles. Of the people I know in condos built in rowhouses, all are couples, save for one couple with a three-year-old and a couple with one on the way.
            As for annony’s comment on “the rich”; you may have misunderstood the timeline on which they’re thinking. These structures largely need fixing up soon and will probably last some 30-40 years if fixed up well. So thinking more than 5 years forward is pretty critical here.

          • It’s funny you mention high density housing. There are two high density communities within two blocks of the 700th block of Peabody. Between 7th and 5th there are I believe 8 quad plexes. There already is multi-family dwellings in the area and no one has a problem with them. There are also a sizable amount of basement rentals. Honestly, I don’t think anyone has a problem with density in this neighborhood since duplexes and multi-families have long co-existed happily. The key is, the people who make up this community want it to remain affordable. They want the neighborhood to continue to support families. They want it to continue to support the working class. There is no reason why this identity can’t remain in place, and there is nothing wrong with the neighborhood trying to maintain its identity.
            Also, just to give a note regarding the commercial make up of this area, aside from a few businesses (namely Walmart, McDonald’s, Safeway), they are small businesses and franchisees. We have our artisanal coffee (Wapa), or small plates (Decadence), and our awesome local bar (Simple). Sure, Chocolate Crust didn’t do well, but that really wasn’t in keeping with the neighborhood. There really is a happy medium to be had between responsible progress and growth while maintaining affordability.

    • I think you misunderstood the point of that post, which makes me wonder why you moved to a different thread and paraphrase it. The point of that was not that the two groups are allied. The point was that both activities are “preservationist” in a way. His situation is a lot grimmer: he’s trying to preserve the feel of a neighborhood, including its history. As far as I can tell, it’s not about “affordability”, per se, or I’d say: yes, definitely more housing/density. Density doesn’t create the type of community this guy is trying to save.
      Basically, I think he’s out of luck, because you can’t stop people with money buying the property they want. But, it is kind of sad, and I see his point.

      • Anonymous at 9:48. In response to your comment about my post. I read it while skimming through and later on thought to follow-up but could not find the comment using the search function. So instead of re-reading ALL the posts to reply, I just added a new comment which paraphrased it because I didn’t have the exact comment on hand. And my post wasn’t about Mr. Ellis and his specific “anti-gentrification” movement . . .just anti-gentrification in general. I posted the question because I, a Black professional, moved to Petworth during its current ‘gentrification’ and I am not against more density, in general, but am concerned about TOO much density on small narrow streets and definitely dislike some of the pop-ups (aesthetically or questionable construction).

  • I think Ward 4 needs more gentrification, meaning every square inch. I live in the ward as well, and those wanting to keep blight in any part of this city, the anti-gentrification types, really just want to drag DC back to it’s murder capital days. No Thanks. More gentrification please.

    • HaileUnlikely

      This is so asinine that I can’t even figure out what it means. Ward 4 is huge, the vast majority of it is by no means blighted, and included within it are places well outside of the price range of the current gentrifier class, e.g., Colonial Village and Shepherd Park. You want to go lead the charge on Colonial Village? Good luck and best wishes.

  • My husband and I (both white professionals in our late 20s) recently moved to Brightwood. Everyone has been extremely welcoming, and we love it so far! The neighborhood does seem to be turning over, but it mostly seems to be natural turnover. A few 40+ year (black) homeowners on our block have recently passed away, and their families are selling their homes for presumably large profits. It does seem that mostly young white couples/families are moving in… but the neighborhood in general still feels extremely diverse with a mix of black, white, and Latino residents.

  • I’m probably the exact sort of guy he’s railing against – gay couple buying a new renovation in an historically middle-class neighborhood because it’s affordable. Did the same thing down on U Street – bought a condo there because it was a great condo and it was affordable. 12 years ago, no one wanted to go up on U Street, it still looked like hell. Ambitious people came in, cleaned it up and made it a vibrant part of DC. It’s happened in Columbia Heights, Brookland, Ledroit Park, etc. Black or white, it really doesn’t matter. BTW, our new next door neighbor, a lovely older woman, has sworn that she’ll be carried out of that house in a box (her words, not mine). God love her. I need to bake her some Xmas cookies.

    • It shows that from the mid-50s, when whites fled the inner city to the suburbs to escape living next door to black folks coming in, and took the businesses with them, their children and grandchildren, who think they are ‘white’, have learned ABSOLUTELY NOTHING from the Civil Rights Struggle–save their ‘white privilege’ that proceeds them–as they return to neighborhoods they shunned most of their lives, with their sense of Entitlement, bicycle lanes, fusion taco bars, and financial inheritance, to reclaim properties; raise neighboring home values, and property taxes, destroy the way of life of black, brown, and poor people now living there.

  • It shows that from the mid-50s, when whites fled the inner city to the suburbs to escape living next door to black folks coming in, and took the businesses with them, their children and grandchildren, who think they are ‘white’, have learned ABSOLUTELY NOTHING from the Civil Rights Struggle–save their ‘white privilege’ that proceeds them–as they return to neighborhoods they shunned most of their lives, with their sense of Entitlement, bicycle lanes, fusion taco bars, and financial inheritance, to reclaim properties; raise neighboring home values, and property taxes, destroy the way of life of black, brown, and poor people now living there.

    • What should the “children and grandchildren, who think they are ‘white’ ” do instead? Should they restrict themselves to buying houses in only-white neighborhoods? That seems worse.

      Obviously, this is a complicated issue, but I’m not sure what solution you’re suggesting?

  • Ay caramba

  • Those that speak ill of this gentleman expressing his first amendment rights to freedom of speech are perfect examples of why he DOES NOT want you in his neighborhood. You think you are entitled and not others. Hypocrites doing what they do best !!!!

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