Gentrification is defined as the buying and renovating of houses and stores in urban neighborhoods, which results in increased property values and displacing lower-income families and small businesses.
It is becoming an increasingly prevalent factor in the Washington D.C. area as hundreds of predominately African-American families are being forced from their homes at the result of skyrocketing property rates and rent to make way for a massive redevelopment plan.
Neighborhoods known for being predominately black within the District such as Barry Farm, Lincoln Heights, Northwest One, Park Morton and U Street have been targeted for reconstruction.
“The new homes will be razed and new “mixed-income” units as well as commercial spaces will be built in their stead,” according to a report from mixpressnews.
Within the first ward the presence of white faces have increased within the last five years. Statistically speaking the white and black populations have both been consistently increasing since 1970, however, in the last five years the white population has been increasing while the black population has been on the decline.
Ward one is known for housing some of the districts most historically black neighborhoods such as U Street and Adams Morgan. However, as of late the presence of African-Americans has been on the decline because of the rising cost of living within the areas mentioned. The areavibes site gave the U Street area an F rating because the rates to rent are 15% higher than the rest of the Washington D.C. area.
“A massive redevelopment was immanent as that is the way of the world, however it’s a shame to see that families have to suffer,” said Kevin Bryant when asked to comment on gentrification.
Bryant Resides on T Street with his wife in “one of the last black owned town homes in the neighborhood” according to Bryant.
“I’m under constant pressure from the DCHA (DC Housing Authority) to sell my home and move into one of the affordable housing projects in the ghetto. They’re desperately trying to send me the way of Levant, who was one of the other last black residents in the neighborhood.”
A year later on November 30th the DC Housing Authority was accused of furthering gentrification after one of the wards oldest residents, Levant Graham, 84, was suddenly removed from her home after four decades just a year prior.
Graham who is the mother of 12 said that the home she was removed from “would have been her first”. After four decades she was suddenly removed and relocated to an affordable housing property by the DCHA. The new location is one that she “doesn’t trust” and because of that she’s constantly inside.
“Most of the black population has been moved down to Shaw where the more urban neighborhoods are,” said Lisa Wilkins who is also a ward one resident when asked about the gentrification taking place in her neighborhood. When asked what the project future of her neighborhood was demographically speaking Wilkins replied “whoever can afford it”.