“Pretty dramatic ‘us’ vs ‘them’ approach to the community and the way it handles race relations”

provocative

A reader reports:

“This flyer has been circulating around the Edgewood/Eckington area. Pretty dramatic “us” vs. “them” approach to the community and the way it handles race relations.”

149 Comment

  • I mean, it’s true. To deny that gentrification doesn’t intersect race and class is simply blind.

    • To what “it” are you referring that’s true.? I don’t see a single statement in the above poster that’s true.

    • Yeah, but it is also true that low skilled immigration is a mixed bag, with many negative side effects (increases in poverty and inequality). That doesn’t make Donald Trump’s crude appeals to low educated, working class whites racism right. These are difficult, nuanced problems and we should solve them via constructive solutions, not playing to people’s tribal fears.

      At the end of the day, we live in a height and density constrained city. We need to find a constructive way to grow city’s housing base or we will continue to displace many lower income families.

      • Well said.

      • You cannot compare Trump’s racist statements to this poster and the fact that you did shows that there is a huge disconnect in your understanding of how gentrification contributes to homelessness and poverty. People are being evicted, rents have skyrocketed, apartments accepting Section 8 vouchers have been dramatically reduced and public housing units have been eliminated and turned into condos. It is truly outrageous to witness.

    • Plenty of rich black folks live in the city too you know.

    • 1. Yes, anon, it intersects race and class, but that’s still a simplistic justification for a racist flyer.
      Oversimplification by these homeowners, who don’t like change & turn to hyperbolic race claims, is not helping the situation. It makes minorities like me, who normally would be on your side, not listen to you.

      2. Gentrification in DC is much less damaging than other places; though affordable housing is most certainty an issue. Unlike the Brooklyn, Bronx, and Harlem experiences in NYC, African Americans in these neighborhoods largely OWN their homes (I say AA v. minorities because Latinos largely do not own in dc). Focus on that KEY WORD THERE: OWN. The sellers are making bank, whereas many minorities in cities like NYC did not have the option of selling – they were pushed out by landlords; key words: didn’t own.

      3. “They” didn’t take anything. The neighbors in this neighborhood are doing well selling homes they bought, largely, for under $200k for $500K+ and moving to PG; one of the richest AA counties in the country!! If you want to keep your neighborhood the same, stop selling your homes for a profit and stay put. My mom bought her house in the South Bronx for $60k (under an affordable housing program) and it’s now worth over $400k and she hasn’t decided to sell – she likes her neighborhood.

      I just bought a house in Petworth; but for most of my life, I was that poor minority in the south bronx, where sh*t was easily worse than Petworth ever was….even in the crack era (we had the same problem too – I grew up counting crack vials on the way to school and ducking shootouts on weekends). I worked my way to have money and have finally bought my first house in the area. I am not takin’ anything but what people want to sell at a significant profit; or else I would have bought elsewhere–as it is I’m far from the city. But putting up BS flyers that make it a “them against us” isn’t the proper way to do it. That creates animosity.

      And really? You want to rally against a playground? How about railing against the 7th Street and Jefferson drug dealers that are literally two blocks away from your elementary school!?!?! Look I could not give a sh** less about drug dealers, I grew up with them; generally, they kill each other. But I don’t have kids, a stray bullet will kid your kids, not mine.

  • What next? Clearly the wives – what a silly question.

  • Racism is perpetuated by the haves -Those that HAVE money and influence.

    Those that don’t aren’t able to inflict dammage on a race or culture based on negative personal beliefs.

    It’s amazing how people feel the need to cite others for complaining about gentrification when the people who feel gentrified are not rich nor influential beyond anything past seeking a voice.

    There are many GOOD people and families that get left behind when others with money and influence seek more wealth and profit. If we ignore a common sense of fairness and ethics in the process, we’re selling our souls and actually ignoring the cries of people in need and in a modern society, that’s a major failure for all of us.

    • Do something about it then.

      • I am, by refraining from giving you the negative reply you are seeking.

        • what do you suggest we do then?

          • If you have money or influence, or if you know people that do, make sure you/they only implement projects that are fair and that take good low-income families into consideration. We need to ensure that there’s fair and equal attention for SE DC communities just like there are in NE DC. If this was the case, there would be a lot less excuse for crime and poverty to exist. Create fair jobs, good educational opportunities for everyone, and enjoy life. 🙂

          • Jack5: You listed a few things the Haves can do. What do you suggest the Have Nots do? I think this is the disconnect so many people are having trouble grasping.

            One group of people is saying “it’s a free market, if I can afford it, I can buy it.” and the other group is saying “you’re pushing us out of our homes and destroying our communities.” Neither of these is entirely true or entirely fair.
            While I think we should take care to create mixed communities with different income levels I don’t think it’s productive to use divisive rhetoric that vilifies “them.”
            While you see it as the Haves and the Have Nots, other people see it has the Haves and the Takers. What they want to see is a plan for how the Takers are going to give back and contribute their own success. Understanding this difference in perspective is the ONLY WAY this whole mess will every be addressed.

          • @Jack5: When someone asks you suggest, and you reply with vague platitudes, you’re not helping. “Be fair, create jobs, improve education!” Great, thanks for the advice, I’ll get right on that.
            .
            Also, I would love to press for policies that “take good low-income families into consideration,” but I’m having a hard time telling them from the bad low income families. Can you provide a good rule of thumb to differentiate between the two?

          • HaileUnlikely

            I suspect that solutions to serious social issues rarely bubble up from the comments on blogs like this one. I personally favor Jack’s approach of acknowledging that there exists some legitimacy for the point of view expressed in the flyer (even if the delivery was not optimal), rather than just dismissing it out of hand because I don’t have a magic silver bullet of an answer. As for how to differentiate between the “good low income families” from the “bad low income families,” I’d simply start by giving each the benefit of the doubt unless a specific individual demonstrates a compelling reason not to.

          • I see no reason to strain myself distinguishing between “good” and “bad” families, but Jack suggested it, so I thought I’d see what his criteria is.

    • Uh, ‘scuse me? ANYONE can be racist. White, black, or brown. Rich, poor, or somewhere in between. Nobody has a lock on racism. Unfortunately it’s universal.

      • +1. And it’s easy to perpetuate racism even without money.

      • Well racism against black people is kind of a big issue in the US because of slavery and the Civil Rights era… The impact of that does’n exactly just “go away”… Its a terrible, terrible mark on this country’s past, and should never be forgotten.

        • Well – the Japanese could say the same thing. They were ripped from their homes and contained in prison camps during WWII.

        • I don’t disagree with that, but that doesn’t have anything to do with my comment regarding your (baseless) assertion that racism is something that exists only among the well-off.

        • And redlining, COINTELPRO, certain zoning ordinances, the convict lease system, and many other state actions and policies.

      • Something of a facile statement. Back in the bad old days on U Street, my father once got randomly sucker- punched by a guy who undoubtedly grew up in the ghetto white people built to contain him and who announced “all white men are faggots” — obviously an act of racial violence.

        On the other hand, entrenched, institutional racism cemented by continuing economic inequality (not even considering centuries of violence and a modest resurgence of white nationalism) has much more insidious and damaging effect than a punch in the face. To compare black on white racism to white on black racism is to ignore the power differential between the races and the potential to inflict harm.

        Someone puts up a mean flyer? Boo hoo. It’s not like they can scare “us” out.

        That guy who punched my father (we chased them into the metro but let them go when one pulled a screwdriver on me. At one point me and one of the guys were doing this bullshit kung fu while trying to pretend we were tough. We were idiots), if he’s alive, is probably living in some PG County hellhole or a for-profit prison. I’m living in a million dollar house.

        I’m not excusing anyone or anything. But I can only garner so much sympathy when white people play the racism card.

        • While I respect your opinion — I do not think enough attention is paid to the black on white racism. I wholeheartedly understand our history with race in this country; however, previous bad acts do not excuse ongoing, new ones. When a white person does something to a black person, it is all over the news. The same does not always happen when the roles are reversed. Also, not all white people are privileged and not all white people ARE racist. I am not racist in the slightest yet every single day I face a white on black race issue because African American culture is taught to never let go of the past and what happened to them. Black people are unwilling to accept that each white person is different and every white person isn’t racist. I’m exhausted from the racism in DC and I wish more white people would stand up and talk about how big of a problem it is. All of my black friends and I talk about it all the time — but white people SELDOM admit how poorly black people treat them.

          • Facepalm.
            .
            Why are you treating all Blacks as one group while insisting that they differentiate between white who are racist vs. whites who aren’t?

          • While everyone is talking about trivial race issues, the uber wealthy are just sitting around counting their money not giving a shit about any of us.

          • Kingman Park hits the nail on the head. You know a vey smart person once asserted that “racism” was a construct of the rich to keep the poor and middle class down. We’re sitting here allowing race to divide us while they do as they please.

          • Guess what CLICH, your comments are racist! So many people like to say they are not racist but when they talk about the subject and their thoughts on the matter racist ideas end up coming out. Not saying every white person is racist but many who say they aren’t are in fact. It is not just KKK members and people who think black folks are dangerous criminals who are racist.

            I know you have your black friends to “prove” your not but this comment says it all: “African American culture is taught to never let go of the past and what happened to them. Black people are unwilling to accept that each white person is different…”

            Yeah, Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, Christian Taylor, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice and the list goes on. What are you talking about letting go of the past????

          • “Black people are unwilling to accept that each white person is different and every white person isn’t racist.”
            .
            Doesn’t get much more tribal than this… CLich is upset that black people generalize white people and will tell you so with no sense of irony.
            .
            Based on evidence there are basically two possibilities: One is that “black criminality” is a real thing and that’s why we incarcerate so many black people; black people are somehow genetically predisposed to crime, systemic racism is over and black people are living in the past. The other is that it isn’t the past that black people are not letting go of, but the present which still has entrenched systemic racism. Considering no one still talks about Italian criminality or Irish criminality which were common topics of discussion back when systemic racism against Irish and Italians was commonplace I’m pretty sure it is the latter. Turns out race is irrelevant but whomever the dominant culture is systemically oppressing through racism is more prone to criminality.
            .
            Anyway check it out, black people have treated me poorly, I grew up white in a bad DC neighborhood, I got beat up, harassed, robbed, you name it (latinos too, white people are universally reviled). But the system was good to me, in school I always got the benefit of the doubt even when I was the aggressor. When I got arrested as a teen (with drugs, with a friend who was breaking into cars) they didn’t even bother to process me, they even let me keep my fake ID after I explained it was just to see music. About a year later a black friend of mine got a year in prison for UUV (unauthorized use of a vehicle, basically driving a car that isn’t yours but isn’t stolen either) after his friend picked him up and asked him to drive. So in the end I hit 18 about $40 poorer and having fought and bled more than most from my mistreatment and my friend had a conviction on his record which would make his life that much more difficult.
            .
            Anyway I’m doing my part, my kids are biracial (50/50), but our culture will call them black because racism is dead and buried in the past and that’s why we still culturally use the one drop rule. /s

      • Brown and black people can’t not be racist. I think the word you are looking for is prejudice.

        • HaileUnlikely

          Can we please not turn this into a debate about definitions used by professors of sociology and the like in elite liberal arts universities.

          • I worded that worng. Didn’t mean to use a double negative. “Brown and black people can’t be racist.” That’s what I meant to say. And I’ll bring it up because it seemed apt for the discusion.

          • I realize that’s a catchy definition going around sociology departments, but if you paid any money to learn that, you were robbed of that money. Possibly by a racist, irrespective of whether the professor was white or black.

        • Brown and black people can certainly be racist. Perhaps 50 years ago when they lacked power they could not, but today brown and black people wield significant political and eoonmic power in pockets of the country, especially urban areas.

          There is also the street level power that is manifested by violent crime. In DC, most racist hate crimes are perpetrated by blacks against whites.

        • >Brown and black people can’t not be racist. I think the word you are looking for is prejudice.

          funny cuz I was in Lao’s the other day and I saw a black man yell at a Asian girl, called her gook and all types of raciest names… Thank god he was not a raciest or she would have taken those insults seriously.

    • What about people with money and (maybe slightly more influence) who also need a place to live? Corporate fat cats aren’t moving into Eckington. They’re middle-upper middle class people who work just as hard and want to be able to live in the city.

      • +1000

        We bought a home where we could afford to buy one. And if anyone here had spent any time at a neighborhood association meeting, they would quickly realize the folks that put these factually inaccurate flyers up most certainly have a voice, and it is used to spout hate.

    • “Racism is perpetuated by the haves -Those that HAVE money and influence.”

      I would say that racism is perpetuated by anyone who holds a racist attitude – i.e. the view that one ‘race’ is superior to others – regardless of money or influence.

      I would like to know how your theory applies to black-on-black racism, specifically the animosity between light-skinned and dark-skinned black people. I’ve been told by my African-American co-workers that this dates to the slavery days and the distinction between house slaves and field slaves, which would seem to support your theory. However, that was quite a long time ago, so what is perpetuating black-on-black racism today?

  • Ok, re: community relations, as gentrification marches on the gentrifiers have to come to terms with the fact that what they usually tell themselves in order to feel better “Gentrification is good because it improves the neighborhoods and makes them better so everyone can benefit.” just isn’t true. It’s not for everyone’s benefit. And stuff like this reflects that. The first step to rectifying a problem is admittance.

      • the writer specifically says that DC is exempted from the article’s observations–that gentrification IS happening here.

    • But what is the way to rectify this problem? If D.C. pushes back against gentrification, those same people will just to go the suburbs, taking their tax dollars with them. That used to be called “white flight” and it was very much denigrated as wrong, too.

      And many people who move into transitional neighborhoods aren’t rich, or looking to make a crazy profit. Many are regular middle-class people who want to live closer to work or are moving where they can afford.

      • Majic Johnson made billions by investing in low income communities. The ability to create wealth isn’t hinged on only creating extreme profit without ethics on every project. If unethical projects are allowed to run wild in DC, soon everyone but the wealthy (including you and I) could just as easily be priced out… Just try to buy property in Dubai, New York, or Hawaii these days as an example.

        • But the reason that properties in New York and Dubai are so expensive is because they’re rare, and with limited opportunities for more housing to be built because of the small footprint of both places. And everyone cannot afford to live in New York or Dubai and shouldn’t aspire to that. We can’t all have the conspicuous consumption dream, and we all need to make some peace with that, too.

          I agree with the idea that the growth of DC needs to be controlled, but the people who are selling out their souls are the politicians. They should be working to make sure all of DC’s residents are able to find decent affordable housing. But I don’t think it’s fair to villainize all the people who are moving into city neighborhoods. Many of them respect the long-term residents and want to create vibrant communities.

        • That’s not how his Magic made his money.

      • Absolutely true. I can’ t afford to live on the other side of the park, I just can’t. My wife was born and raised here so you can’t just tell her that she needs to leave town because she’d be a gentrifier and bad for the community if she lived in an area that she can actually afford. It’s unfair to assume all white people have a ton of money and can just live wherever they want.

        Personally, by cleaning up my yard and picking up trash around the neighborhood I can’t think of a reason why I’d be considered a negative to the community.

        • This is so true on so many levels. When I bought my little row house in 16th street heights almost 15 years ago, I was the first person in probably 40 years to make any effort to care for it or it’s surroundings. On the the other hand, the guys across the street — squatting in their old Auntie’s house — spend all day every day getting hammered / stoned on their porch and peeing in the alley and doing deals and dropping trash everywhere and shouting the n word, while Auntie’s property crumbles around them.

          Sure, sometimes i feel silly picking up garbage with my trash stick, but if you ask me, the city needs more citizens like me, and fewer like them.

      • I have to agree with this, if gentrification didn’t thrive in Washington most neighborhoods would be shot out and abandoned. Everyone should be thankful for the significant rise in property values and thriving neighborhood’s small- businesses.

      • White people who flee the cities are vilified, and white people who move in are vilified as well. I think that it’s time for many African-Americans to admit that they support segregation. When blacks get upset about non-blacks moving into “their neighborhoods,” they are expressing segregationist sentiment.

        In any case, that flier is disgraceful.

  • west_egg

    Which playground is under consideration for turning into a dog park?

    • Seriously. Where is there a playground in Eckington that the public can use besides the one at Harry Thomas recreation center? The Harry Thomas rec center is not in risk of getting torn down.

    • The Edgewood Rec Center and field is getting a $15+ million renovation, likely beginning next fall/winter. Dog park is possible, not anywhere near definite.

  • While not saying so outright, this flyer clearly means “white people” when it uses the word “they”. As others have pointed out, those that experience the negative aspects of gentrification (namely more expensive housing) may feel that they don’t have a voice. The problem is when you say that your race has to stick together to make sure that no one else has a voice either. This approach does nothing positive for the community, though politicians will gladly use this approach to get people to vote for them.

    • There are plenty of non-white developers that are wealthy, seeking to line their pockets by driving up the costs of living in DC. To see the statement as targeting your race specifically is kind of indicative of a lack of understanding or caring about the situation. The flyer aays nothing about a specific race sticking together. Gentrification affects people of all races, based on financial status. It just so happens that in this case it’s mostly black people, but in Syria, it’s happening based on religion.

      • “Gentrification affects people of all races, based on financial status. It just so happens that in this case it’s mostly black people, but in Syria, it’s happening based on religion.”
        .
        I didn’t know that gentrification is what’s happening in Syria! Wow, I really learn something new every day.

        • There are a lot of things happening in Syria, but many would say that the conflict is primarilly about pushing people off their land to redistribute it to others with more money and influence, which is a primary concern within the discussion of gentrification. This is also how our country was established if you look far back enough.

          • Your understanding of the Syria conflict is terribly inadequate. Probably better not to compare Syria to gentrification. Thats not even remotely close to whats happening.

          • It is a war zone!!! What are you talking about comparing it to gentrification?

      • Dammed hipsters ruined Damascus!

        (Note: I know that is not your literal point)

  • I don’t fit the poster profile, but I was also opposed to dog parks. Now you cannot use the parks for anything else. I used to sit and draw in the one at New Hampshire and T Street/Swann Street.

    • I mean, you CAN absolutely use the dog parks to draw. There are lots of benches and people to talk to. There is also a really nice park literally 300 feet away on the opposite triangle to that one that the city has set up with flowers and benches. Just because the entire community doesn’t want the park to stay the way you like it doesn’t mean that it’s wrong, or that you’re now excluded.

      • True. I don’t own a dog, but I appreciate the benefit that dog parks provide to the community for the relatively little and well-contained space that they use. And I just recently enjoyed a solid hour of sitting at the triangle park across from the Swann Street dog park, musing about life and other abstract stuff. The park was entirely sufficient for my sitting needs, and I didn’t feel as though the dog park took anything away from me. I’ve been here for nearly half my life and I am Hispanic, so I’m also a little confused about how the poster’s stereotypes should apply to me, but I suspect they’re more about the egos of a few cranks than actual grievances.

  • Ok—I’ll bite.

    While feelings are one thing, and it is wrong not too acknowledge them, it is twice as wrong to stoke them with false claims. Dividing houses into condos INCREASES the number of housing units and reduces their price. There are lots more playgrounds than dog parks (92 versus 12 according to DPR website). Etc.

    • This is the age of feelings now. Facts are useless with these kinds of arguments.

    • “Dividing houses into condos INCREASES the number of housing units and reduces their price.”
      .
      Allow me to play devil’s advocate here. Reduces their price relative to what? If I live in a house that hasn’t been updated since the 1980s with four other family members, and then someone buys up all the homes on the block and turns them into very nice, updated 2 bedroom condos at a higher price than I was paying because of the renovations — I presumably can’t move back into a smaller, more expensive space with my family. So perhaps from one perspective you’re correct (perhaps from the single person, middle income perspective?) but a low-income family of five may very well view this as being totally effed over.

      • You could move into the condos with your family and enjoy a nicer place, more amenities in the neighborhood, and deal with having less space (as many families did for many generations before the current trend of exploding home sizes).
        .
        Homes have to be renovated eventually? Wiring and pipes aren’t going to last forever and it’s unlikely you can live in a home while all of that is being redone. If the house were renovated as is (without growing the structure and splitting it into more units in the process), then the result would be far more expensive.
        .
        There’s no quick and easy answers here.

        • I’ll bite.

          “… and deal with having less space (as many families did for many generations before the current trend of exploding home sizes).”

          Well, upper and middle income residents could also deal with have slightly worse countertop materials, as many did for generations before everyone and their mother needed granite, or when that became passe, quartz.

          Sorry, you can’t just tell a family of five, ok, well you may have three kids living in one room, but at least the finishes are nicer. Wiring and pipes don’t last forever, sure, but that’s not really what’s being addressed with many of the gentrification projects.

    • The flyer says home not house(s), so I’m not sure which claim is false exactly. Home can be an apt too which is what quite a few bldg were before a condo conversion.

      • Both fair points, FridayGirl and Anon Spock! Thank you for adding in nuance that I missed.

        Only thing I’ll add is that average household size in DC is 2.2, with 49% of blacks and 44% of whites living alone, so smaller units, whether condo or apartment, are an inmportant part of the solution to housing the growing population.

        • I can’t agree that condos=apartments for accessibility to the masses. Even if the condo is cheaper, you need capital. The apartments that are being built are mostly market rate (for a variety of reasons)…Even the adu which is hard to get is quite expensive for a lot of people.
          I can see what you’re getting at, but I don’t fully agree.

    • “Dividing houses into condos INCREASES the number of housing units” — Yes.
      .
      “… and reduces their price.” NO. It reduces their price ONLY relative to a flipped house. Condos created in this manner frequently cost close to, equal to, or MORE than the cost of the original unflipped house.

      • HaileUnlikely

        To put it another way, it reduces the price relative to some counterfactual condition of minimal relevance to the target audience here, not relative to anything tangible. And Spock has a very important point here, too, that converting apartments into condos does nothing for supply and only changes what population it serves.

      • it also reduces their price relative to an alternate world where no houses are converted to condos. the people with the highest purchasing power would still bid up the costs of single family homes, leaving the remaining buyers to battle it out for other properties, and so on, with fewer units to meet demand, and thus raising prices to a higher level than they are now.

        • HaileUnlikely

          This is not necessarily true. It is surely true in some cases, but not all of them. I bought my home through Fannie Mae’s HomePath program. The reason I note this is that the way the program is structured, for the first 21 days on the market, offers are accepted only from people who are willing to certify that they will make the house their primary residence within 2 months and then keep it as their primary residence for 12 months. If it is not under contract within somebody willing to certify the above within 21 days, then they allow investors to bid. Four investors submitted offers fraudulently representing themselves as owner-occupants during the first 21 days, and fortunately for me, Fannie Mae did their homework and tossed those out. My point, however, was that they received no other offers besides mine for people willing to certify that they were going to live in the house for 12 months as their primary residence–not exactly the bidding war you’d expect…

          • that’s a good anecdote, and that sounds like a good program. but that doesn’t change the larger analysis. i do think we need more programs like that to help keep a racially and socioeconomically diverse city, but the point behind my post is basically that if we misdiagnose the problem, then it’s hard to develop effective policies and programs.

          • HaileUnlikely

            A detail that I omitted was that the house was in very rough shape. Livable, but in very rough shape. There was a person looking for a house that he could afford who wanted it (me), but there weren’t a lot of them. That was my point. More generally, I think that developers who “flip” houses fundamentally change the nature of the demand by changing the nature of the goods that are for sale. Reasonable people can disagree about whether that is a good thing or a bad thing. If we were serious about preserving affordability, I believe some disincentives toward flipping would help quite a bit. They wouldn’t magically solve all problems that exist, but they would substantially level the playing field relative to the current situation where developers sweep up basically everything could plausibly be housing for moderate-income families and make bank by converting it into rich-person housing and selling it to rich people.

          • maybe increased regulations against flippers would help, maybe not, and most likely there would be significant unintended consequences. there are plenty of regulations on the books already regarding use of property, number of units, size of structure, parking requirements, etc. and that still leaves the question of how much you want to, or even have the ability to, regulate free enterprise that is meeting an obvious demand. i’m no free-market right winger by any means, but i do think it’s important to allow places to grow and evolve over time, and we should be encouraging the process, not limiting it. programs like the HomePath one you mentioned are more helpful than providing disincentives to development.

          • HaileUnlikely

            I said disincentives to flipping specifically, not development generally, and I meant specifically flips that do not even change the number of dwelling units, i.e., converting a house that might sell for $350K into a house that sells for $800K by putting $100K of work into it and making it into what a buyer with an $800K budget demands instead of what a buyer with a $350K budget is willing to accept. Most of my neighborhood is zoned R2, so that’s what flips look like there. I don’t have a specific policy proposal in mind – just something to give people who are willing and able to buy a modest home a chance to do so, which is really really hard when competing with developers.

      • Yes. But creating the condos add to supply if condos which should have some effect on price. Imagine if turning houses into condos were disallowed. What would be the effect on cl do prices?

    • Then why are all these new Condos so expensive?

  • What I don’t understand is what possible solution there is- of course large apartment buildings or developers tearing houses down can set aside some apartments for low income renters and buyers, but you can’t force people who own property/houses to not sell them to either certain people or people with a certain amount of money. Should white buyers/families who can’t afford Cleveland Park not buy homes in the district because it might drive prices up too much?

    I do understand the frustration of families who have been in these neighborhoods forever, but I just don’t see a practical solution.

    • I think it would help if more of us somehow spoke up in favor of lower income people of any race, particularly african-americans in the District. Why aren’t we demanding that our government officials force new construction apartments to set aside MORE affordable units? Develop more mixed income housing? Are there tax breaks for people who renovate abandoned properties to provide them at an affordable rate like there are for apartments? Not everyone’s family fits into 1 and 2 bedroom apartments. In my personal opinion, there has been a real lack of dialogue on solutions to the housing problem in DC compared to other issues.

      • I think Kate’s point is that opponents of gentrification seem to just want people to stay out of their neighborhood, period. But failing that — because, as she said, you can’t prohibit people from selling their homes to someone else — what’s the solution? If we can agree on one, great. But if you suggest any of these to those opposed to gentrification, do you think that’s what they want? Probably not. They want things to stay the way they are, hence the impasse.

        • “I think Kate’s point is that opponents of gentrification seem to just want people to stay out of their neighborhood, period.”
          .
          This could be true but I, personally, have a hard time believing it. This type of logic is a fundamental flaw in many conflict scenarios. Yes, sometimes parties do just dislike each other for whatever reason and they can’t seem to get past it because the enemy image has been perpetuated for generations. BUT I’d like to believe that this is our perception of the FEAR others have of losing their homes, or their communities, etc.

          • The person/group behind the distribution of these specific flyers has actively accosted people in the neighborhood, spread reputation-damaging misinformation about neighbors, as well as spoken openly about trying to prevent people from coming into the neighborhood. Kate’s comment, at least in this scenario, is pretty much on point.

            If the back story isn’t known, I understand the concerned responses. But frankly this is the work of a maladjusted person who seems to thrive on creating chaos.

          • Lucie is right about my point, but I don’t think the problem is just that parties have a fundamental dislike for each other- the problem is when any group of people thinks it can control that which it has no control over: old residents of a neighborhood want to have control over who buys other properties in their neighborhood and what they do with them, renters want to control what their landlord does with the property they rent, and new residents want to demand others use their property in a way they deem appropriate. I recently purchased a home and I sure do wish that my neighbors would get rid of the broken down car they have on their property, but I acknowledge it’s their right to have it there and I’m friendly with them anyway.

            I do agree that a dialogue and some thought about how to protect lower income residents is virtuous and important, but I don’t think it’s plausible to expect that that dialogue will end all complaints about gentrification.

          • Good comments, Kate. There are absolutely some not so unclear lines that seen to be drawn of old vs new (which mostly mirror black/white). In the Edgewood/Eckington situation, I think there is probably a communication problem because while older residents do their community organizing by stopping people on the street and talking, newer members use forums like civic associations, online forums, etc.

            Frankly, I feel like I have excellent relationships will all of my neighbors (about 70-80% of my block is black). Posters like these, even when I know who is responsible, can make people second guess their sense of community. And that’s not good for anyone, and causes animosity amongst everyone.

      • Friday Girl +INFINITY! I was searching for your thought and you nailed it. It is about what the other can support in addition to doing for themselves, and by recognizing that by purchasing a home in an area with lower costs you are most likely making it more difficult for someone with less than you to stay around a neighborhood where they may have roots. Recognizing this privilege and not doing something about it is no good, but if you make some noise, demand new construction projects have affordable units factored in based on the need of the community whether that is for low income individuals, families, permanent supportive housing… etc. communities will still change but conversations start to evolve and change is made by more of the players than just one group.

        • I think you misunderstand the dynamic between new homebuyers and longstanding residents if you think that the “privileged” ones (to use your term) generally don’t already support the housing policies you describe. If you see an ANC or a neighborhood group opposing new construction of dense housing units, supporting the restrictions on parking minimums that constrain the housing supply, or otherwise working to slow DC’s evolution into a modern city that can welcome folks of all income levels, don’t point fingers at the new residents. The self-contradictory positions of the guy in Brightwood with the anti-gentrification sign out front are a perfect example.

      • Funny comment considering the drumbeat to tear down Park Morton.

      • Probably with affordable housing mandates is that it rewards line-standing at the expense of hardworking lower income folks who can’t QUITE afford the neighborhood in question. I’m all for mixed neighborhoods, but affordable housing mandates are a very poor way of achieving it (although I’ll admit that there is a limited number of good ways).

        One thing the city could do that would be unequivacally good would be to strengthen its enforcment of safety related housing regulations and, at the same time, create a reasonable (as in under 6-14 month) process for evicting non-paying tenants. I’ve been both a landlord and a tenant in this city, and have had bad landlords who refused to fix dangerous problems and complaints to the city accomplished nothing (despite clear violations of housing regs). On the otherhand, I’ve also personally experienced the impossibly long process of evicting a non-paying tenant – which this city makes much harder than basically anywhere.

        Long and short is our city rewards bad landlords and bad tenants, but punishes good landlords and good tenants.

        • Not sure how long ago you were a tenant, but I recently dealt with dcra, and they were nothing short of fantastic. The problem was inspected within a day and resolved that week. Hopefully my experience wasn’t a fluke.
          I absolutely agree on the bad tenant side. People who choose to work the system can do so for a very long time. Offering a helping hand can really screw you.

  • There is an incredibly easy solution to this. Its called abolishing the height restriction. It is literally the number 1 cause of increasingly untenable cost of living in DC.

  • Aside from the ‘script’ or the text of the poster there is a distinct hole or divide that just isn’t spoken about especially in DC. Does it have to do with race, class, greed, money, religion or color maybe all of those and then some. I just remember a DC not so long ago that was not so angry not so violent and a much easier place to be. A place where people spoke to you and well, never mind. There’s a deeper discussion here of which I know will come up again…in time. I miss that other DC the one I knew before that poster..

  • whatever. I am sick of people (I dont care what your race is, your gender is, etc) bitching about gentrification. or dog parks. or libraries. or bicycle lanes.

    OVER. IT.

    In a perfect world, we would all live in places we could afford. I always hear how DC use to be horrible to live in. If one person or a group wants to come in and make DC a safer place, then be my freaking guest.

  • The dog park thing is a patently false claim. The rec center will be receiving multiple playgrounds and any dog park (if even approved) would take up an insignificant portion of acreage.

    Side note: the condo project currently being built at 4th and Rhode Island is 100% affordable housing.

    These flyers are distributed by a small group of people that actively stoke race related arguments and split the community, which is pretty tight-knit, over personal vendettas.

  • I understand that this is born out of an immense sense of frustration and powerlessness, but the flyer, and others like it, are incredibly counterproductive. Stoking the us v. them narrative doesn’t make “them” change their minds, it makes them feel attacked, solidifies their positions, and eliminates a potential source of much-needed support. Just bad strategy.

  • It’s a shame they took a picture of a little kid who looks like he’s in a cage, then put the words “Endangered Species” as the headline.

    • Yes, why can’t these people, who are obviously desperate for a voice, exercise some nuance! Shame on them.

      • Before being a apologist for those “desperate for a voice,” you may want to know that the person distributing these signs has personal issues with the sitting ANC and actively antagonizes under the pretense of “community.”

        In actuality, the neighborhood is pretty well-adjusted and most longer term residents cheer community improvements (such as a $15M renovation of the rec center)

  • Meanwhile in Mt. Pleasant people are trying to turn a dog park INTO a playground and everyone is losing their minds over it.

    • Where? There aren’t any official dog parks in Mt. Pleasant? Are you talking about that fenced hill that has become a defacto dog park at Lamont and 19th (I think)?

  • I understand that DC has decent protections for low-income homeowners in gentrifying areas – caps on property taxes, homestead exemption, special rules for seniors – and most homeowners also benefit from the increased equity. Renters seem to be the real issue. DC doesn’t seem to have much in the way of rent control (correct me if I’m wrong), and even if it did, that wouldn’t help in a situation where the owner of the building wants to sell for a condo project. I think DC has rules requiring affordable housing to be part of some new developments, so that presumably helps, but obviously 30% of a new building won’t be enough units to replace 100% of an old one, and in the meantime the renters have been displaced. However, it seems pretty unfair to the owner of a building – and potentially unconstitutional – to tell them they can’t ever stop renting their units and sell. Is the onus on the higher-income residents to choose not to live there? If I didn’t live in a gentrifying neighborhood I would probably have to move to the suburbs bc I can’t afford a house in any of the historically white neighborhoods in DC. Also, that solution seems like it would perpetuate segregation by race and class, and anyway, it’s theoretical because people aren’t going to voluntarily stay out of convenient downtown neighborhoods. What do POP readers see as the solutions? Genuinely interested, as I struggle with this a lot.

    • DC does have rent control. You should also look up the tenant opportunity to purchase act (TOPA) here in DC. It is illegal for the owner of a building to sell their property without having their tenants waive their right to buy the building or negotiate for things such as reduced rent or a direct payout.

      • This is true, and TOPA is meant to protect tenants, but it’s much less effective than it should be. I rented a condo and the owner sold it in two weeks’ time. I agreed to that timing so long as he paid my moving costs. He promised to do so following the closing, then moved out of state without paying. The only reason I even got my security deposit back was because I refused to sign the TOPA papers until I did. The realtor claimed no responsibility, and since the landlord never registered the apartment with DC, there was little that could be done.

        I never realized I was in an illegal rental because I had a lease. I’m sure that happens more than we know, and to people who have even less capability of fighting back.

        • I didn’t know about TOPA! Interesting – maybe more awareness of that (including how tenants can best protect themselves when negotiating with unscrupulous landlords) would be one concrete thing DC could do to help low-income renters in gentrifying neighborhoods.

          • Until dcra comes to every apt (also figure out what apts are legal and not) to hand this stuff out, there is no way to ensure everyone knows even with a free atty service at landlord tenant ct, dcra assistance, and multiple tenant guides and info online.

        • It’s very effective in my experience. You didn’t have to agree to move esp. if it was breaking your lease. You could have held out for security/moving fees or sold your rights to someone else.
          You could have gotten the owner fined for the illegal rental. Many realtors aren’t familiar with topa actually.
          You had numerous options, but it doesn’t appear you researched them. Everything I said can be easily googled.
          Even if you knew nothing, I’m not sure why you’d take the word of a person who asked you to move only weeks after signing a lease. That sounds fishy to me.

          • +1000

            Mamasan did not do any research. No title company in DC would have allowed the sale if the TOPA paperwork had not been signed. It had nothing to do with an illegal rental. Don’t blame the system if you choose to be ignorant of the process.

          • HaileUnlikely

            I’ll concede that you have a point, but I think you’re being overly harsh. Starting from the position of knowing that there exists some such law but not knowing the specifics, urging somebody to study up is perfectly reasonable. However, starting from the position of not having any idea that there might exist some mechanism by which a tenant can prevent the owner of the unit that they rent from selling it is a very different starting point. It would have to occur to a person that there exists something to be found in order for it to make any sense to fault the person for not actively looking for it.

          • @HaileUnlikely

            In order to complete a TOPA transaction there is a ton of paperwork that has to be delivered to the tenant by certified mail. Then paperwork from the USPS showing that the certified mail was delivered has to be taken to DCRA to be confirmed and stamped. Only after this process is complete can a tenant actually sign and notarize their copy.

            So while it sounds harsh, the tenant chose to not read any of the supplied paperwork or to even do a simple google search for the words TOPA.

          • HaileUnlikely

            I know that Spock is an attorney. I doubt that Masamam is an attorney (I could be wrong, but….) Faulting somebody for what boils down to basically not having the knowledge and skills of an attorney just rubs me the wrong way.

          • Actually, I both did research and consulted with DC government (though it takes a long time to get calls back) and a private attorney. I lived in the condo for more than 2 years, so was on month to month as is common in DC. The landlord put the unit on the market as he needed money. He and his realtor put together a TOPA offer, to which I had 45 days to respond. The existence of the TOPA offer does not preclude the landlord from putting the unit on the market, and the very first buyer made a firm, 30% cash offer, with the condition that they needed to move in within a few weeks’ time. Previous to this, I had a good relationship with my landlord and he claimed to be in financial straits, so I made an effort to find a place to move. I agreed to sign the TOPA papers and got my security deposit back *After* the sale went through everything changed. The landlord disappeared, the realtor and the condo board denied any responsibility for his illegal behavior, and the private attorney advised that it wasn’t worth my time to pursue legally.

            When I contacted the Landlord and Tenant Branch, they were unable to locate the address in their files, meaning I would have had to first file a complaint that, unbeknownst to me, the apartment had never been registered. By then the landlord was long gone, the condo board wouldn’t help (though they should have), and I was moved into a new place. Landlord Tenant was also pretty clear that my problem wasn’t “that bad” because I wasn’t evicted.

            What I should have done was refuse to sign the papers without money in my hand, and refuse to move out of the apartment. But I thought I was dealing aboveboard with someone decent. I was just wrong.

    • Exactly- understand the frustrations of those who are being forced out, but completely protecting the ability of lower income residents to stay in changing neighborhoods is just not feasible in a democratic society with a generally capitalist system- you can only regulate and require so much before you’re imposing unfair restrictions on people’s use of their property.

    • As others mentioned. DC does do a pretty good job of rent control. DC also has a lot of property owners. Gentrification in a neighborhood of rowhouses is not nearly the same level of strife as market rate apartment buildings.
      .
      The only real answer is to give these people money and turn them into owners. Fix zoning to incentivize more building, raise the minimum wage, bring back the 8,000 credit for new buyers, etc.
      .
      The zoning change wont happen in Shaw. We will leave low density housing walking distance to law firm jobs on K street. Shaw is destined to be pricier than Georgetown, and eventually will be just as white, albeit with a little more subsidized housing thrown in.

  • houseintherear

    There is no answer here and no one is really right or wrong. The hippie dippie of it is that we (as a country) are only a few generations out from true slavery, and are still in the midst of some institutionalized racism, and people of color are just not in the same economic places, generally speaking, as white people. This causes money to be a big issue… there was a This American Life story on this recently, I believe. People of color do not have the “backing,” so to speak, as most white people do. Older generations simply do not have the means to provide financial support for their offspring, in emergencies or at all, and this trickles down to young people of color not necessarily having the ability to purchase and maintain property. It’s a complex…extremely complex… issue, but this is a main basic of the whole thing.
    _
    My personal example. I’m a mid-30s white person who owns property in Bloomingdale and did not receive a “down payment from daddy.” However, I went to college easily (for free, since my mom works at a school and I decided to go there instead of having loans), was able to get a job easily, and was able to work easily for 10 years before being financial ready to buy property. I also have used my parents’ wealth for short-term loans and emergency help which otherwise would have left me in foreclosure. If I were a person of color, my story would most likely not be the same in many ways.
    _
    It’s also worth noting that this issue is absolutely not just a DC issue. My brother in Germany talks about similar gentrification-type issues in his town, and lord knows NYC has changed so immensely even over 20 years… it’s everywhere. We just have a population where the extremes are represented, in race and economic class, so we are a bit under a microscope.

  • Such poster is total garbage. However one cannot ignore its inflammatory language as it is part of the reason that folks are getting punched/robbed in the city on a routine basis, and many by very young people.

  • Eh, when you see stupid stuff like this, just tear it down and throw it away. It’s litter. Handle it accordingly.

  • There is an easy solution. Every long term black resident or their heirs should just opt to not to cash in and sell their homes. They can then rent it out far below market rate and accept housing vouchers. That way, low income residents could afford to stay.. Everybody wins…except the people who wanted/needed to cash in but I’m sure that we can convince them to do the right thing.

  • Who is losing their homes in Edgewood? The Monroe Street Market development was built on land owned by Catholic University, which did not include residences available to the general public. Chancellor’s Row was built on an empty field owned by the Paulists. The 901 Monroe Street project, still tied up in zoning, is to be built on land formerly occupied by a tavern and a couple of homes. In that case, the homeowners willingly sold their homes for a handsome profit. The proposed townhomes at 7th and Jackson will occupy land owned by another Catholic order, and no one lives on that land.

    • This is the same point I constantly make. It is largely a fiction that people are being chased out of their homes by developers. Yes, cities and neighborhoods change. People sell and move. But so much of the new development throughout this city has been on empty, abandoned, and undeveloped land. Case in point is Logan Circle around 14th Street and Church Street. All of these new housing units were built where largely no one was living. Yes, there are exceptions (Union Mission, yet that could be termed a business decision for that group to make money and develop a better place to serve their mission). This gentrification debate is getting tiresome. Cities change.

  • An old couple bought a house for $12k in the 60s. They died. Their kids wanted to make money. My wife and I wanted to stay in the city we like and raise a family. We didn’t want to go to Herndon. We bought it.

    We went to meet all of our neighbors. They’ve been here 40 years. They taught us about the family who lived here before us. It’s interesting.

    We say hi when we walk. We keep the place nice. Give candy to trick-or-treaters. Know our neighbors names. We borrow each other’s tools and exchange cookies. We have grown-up talks about fences. We hate the same dilapidated house around the corner.

    I don’t think we’re insidious. I don’t have time for this crap.

  • Do people think that DC home prices are easy on anyone. My husband and I moved to DC and could barely afford a one bedroom in Columbia Heights. We both love DC and are willing to make the sacrifice to be in DC. No one owns a city and no one has the right to live in a neighborhood. I’m sure many people would love to live in an upscale neighborhood but you have to live where you can afford. Honestly, I’m more concerned about the violent crime in this city.

  • I’ve seen this same verbiage in the poster before, there was a guy trying to sell me a documentary movie about DC’s gentrification.

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