Watching the slow but steady transition of Ward 5 is heart-wrenching. Three-story houses go up in a month. Whole blocks vanish in a week. Landmarks are gone forever. That\’s the trend throughout DC. Ward 5 is no exception. But the real question is who\’s protecting us against the silent displacement taking place? With one large swath of land razed (New York Avenue between Bladensburg Road and Montana Ave), two smaller swaths on Rhode Island between 14th and 13th Streets, and another in waiting, Brookland Manor, the final displacement will be near the end. In fact, Brookland Manor sits like a building on death row.
The January 14th-17th edition of The Economist highlights the gentrification taking place in the District. \”District Line: A Walk Across Washington\” chronicles an author\’s 17-mile walk from one end of DC to the other. The author speaks of the changing landscape along with the racial transition from one part of town to the other. He cites the increasing urban development along the route. But, it\’s beyond gentrification. Focusing on the lack of resources that plagued communities east of the river is only part of the story. What about the mothers and fathers who worked long, backbreaking, low-wage jobs to buy homes? The sixties and seventies are full of these stories. However, how many are turning in their graves as they watch ungrateful children squander their inheritance. Many losing hard-won properties for nonpayment of taxes!
The Silent Displacement
And what about the Mayor, City Council, and the ANCs who we count on to protect the vulnerable? Where are they in all of this? Are they safeguarding the many seniors who stuck it out, raised successful families, and prayed for better days despite overwhelming odds? I\’m not sure but from all accounts the silent displacement rolls along, leveling everything in its path.