Average Janitor Cannot Afford To Buy Average House in Bethesda

$10 gets you nowhere at Saks 5th Avenue.
The Metrobus operator will not drop me off in front of my house.
Handsome underwear models do not flirt with me.
There is no justice.

Someone over at the National Housing Conference alerted me to their new study on home ownership and affordability called “Paycheck to Paycheck: Wages and the Cost of Housing in America.” According to their study Bethesda, MD is the 15th most expensive place to purchase a home, Washington, DC as a whole (I gather they factored in Georgetown and Barry Farm) ranks at number 24. Baltimore was at 34. For rentals DC and Bethesda tied at number 19.
The Area Median Income (AMI) around here for 2009 is $64,000 (PDF) and the biggest job title is office drone and executive assistant to the assistant peon (occ. code 43). There aren’t a whole lot janitors making up a percentage of the official job pool.
The NHC study also looks at the affordability of the average home for first responders and school teachers. According to their chart, school teachers and police officers can afford the fair market rent of the average two bedroom. Which is good to know when the odd developer comes shuffling through trying to push workforce housing for school teachers and police.

Arugula blossoms

Over at Apartment Therapy’s Kitchn they have found a use for flowers from bolting arugula. I got tons of bolting flowering arugula. Unfortunately, all that bolting arugula looks kinda weedy to the untrained eye. I know this because young men came to my door offering their services to pull out all those ‘weeds’. Not the first time someone has done that.
I am trying to collect seed from these bolting plants so I don’t have to keep buying seed. When the seed pods have dried, I’ll pull up the plants and restart my salad days again.

Ridge Street

Okay Nobody, no body entered my contest Friday. I’m disappointed. I’m offering it up again, but this time there is no second place ice cream prize, because the homemade chocolate with coco nibs and the drunken cherry chocolate have been eaten or given away. But I still have a ticket for the BACA Flower Power Garden Walk on June 13th. This contest is open to anyone in Shaw, Bloomingdale and Mt Vernon Square.
Here’s the question, what is the address of a Ridge Street NW house that is still standing today but in 1940 was listed as “old and in poor condition” or “poor condition”?

It may sound hard but I got a huge list and it is amazing what wasn’t listed as in bad condition.

First correct answer sent to mari at inshaw period com before 4pm today wins.

Friday Contest

Sort of related to the BACA Flower Power cleanup that is occurring tomorrow, starting at 9AM in front of Armstrong (1st & P) I’m going to have a contest.
The prizes are 1st place, 1 ticket to the Flower Power Walk June 13th, value $10; 2nd place a choice between a yogurt cup sized portion of chocolate coco nib ice cream or drunken cherry chocolate ice cream. The rules are you have to live within the boundaries of 6th, Florida, P, and North Cap NW and most favored answer picked at 4pm wins. Email entries to mari at inshaw period com

Question- Name a flower that is edible, looks great, can grow in DC, and tastes good, or not half bad.

So what’s with the ice cream? I made chocolate ice cream last night. It is very rich. The eggs, cream and milk all came from the Timor bodega. In one batch I threw in some coco nibs. In another small batch, some chopped up cherries that had been sitting in vodka for 3 months.

Intern Housing Advice: Scope your location

In a few weeks we’ll be getting some shiny new interns, or fellows. Apparently at some places you can’t call interns, interns, something about a seedy connotation. At my place we got some gal last year who came to the area, rented waaaaaay out in Fairfax, with no car, and paying what I thought was too much for the location. So I’m putting out this public announcement in memory of her.

Physically check out apts, group homes, rooms, don’t just rely on the internet.


“Walking distance” and “close to” are subjective. So are at times location names. Where I am has been described as Dupont East, LeDriot, Logan East, Eckington, Bloomingdale, Shaw, Truxton, and NW. Only three of those are correct.

“Near metro” can mean the metro station is just across the street or the area is served by a metro bus a mile away that only runs every other hour and never on weekends. If you have to depend on the bus and the place is in PG County, avoid at all costs. Metro bus service there is crap.

When I advertise my extra bedroom I tend to demand that perspective roommates visit the house. Besides being a way to separate the serious house searchers from the flakes and Nigerian scam artists, it lets me gauge a person’s comfort with the neighborhood. The TC ain’t right for everybody. The bars on the windows of about 80% of the houses on my block bother some people. The demographics on the street may be unsettling or the houses seem too small and cramped. Things you can’t tell or judge by simply looking at a few pictures on-line.

‘But’, you say I live all the way out in BFE, USA and I’m in school, I can’t take off time to look at places.’ When I was a grad student at UMASS-Amherst I took the 3 hour bus ride to Boston to look for housing before my internship started. When I went to London for work, I stayed in youth hostels and cheap tourist hotels before I landed in a group house in Earls Court. So I’m really not feeling that excuse.

Next time: Intern Housing Advice: $500 a month will not get you an apartment in Penn Quarter.

UHOP parade May 23rd, you have been warned

Okay, I don’t want to get into an argument about religious or 1st amendment expression, I just want to warn some of y’all about an annual traffic nightmare/ fun parade. Depending on who you are, where you live, what you’re doing and if you actually need to get anywhere will determine how you feel about it. I live on the other side of New Jersey Ave and I take the subway, so I don’t care.
Anyway here’s some of the announcement:

The United House of Prayer for All People will be celebrating its, Annual Memorial Day Peace Parade, on Saturday May 23, 2009. This year the parade has a theme, which has been coined “Return”, adapted by our leader, Bishop C. M. Bailey.

Historically, the parade route travels passing through Vermont Avenue, however, this year, the parade route will travel down 13th Street, NW, from U. Street, NW. The actual parade route is:

6th Street – Florida Avenue – 13th Street – Logan Circle – P Street – 7th Street – back to United House of Prayer for All People, 601 M Street, NW

Because the parade route has been slightly changed, we want to provide notification to the Community and thus, sought to have this communicated to Advisory Neighborhood Commission, ANC, 2-F, so as to not inconvenience the community.

The parade, lotsa black people, groups of young men with brass instruments, and maybe drums, will be snaking through the middle of Shaw starting around 11AM and possibly finishing up around 3PM. Avoid Rhode Island Avenue, and any other cross streets through central Shaw, if you’re in a car. Now if you’re on a bike, just try not to hit anyone, you can probably ride through the gaps.
Every time I encounter the parade, there never seems to be anyone from the city (MPD, DDOT, etc) directing traffic on Rhode Island. Since the church is alerting the community with announcements, I wonder if that will change.

BACA Clean up May 9th & Flower Power Walk 6/13

Okay, I got a couple of BACA Flower Power tickets to sell. Flower Power is the Bates Area Civic Association garden walk, and this year it is going to be on June 13th. It is a good opportunity to look at others yards, see what grows well around here and steal ideas. The tickets are $10 and I take PayPal. Money goes to fund other BACA beautification projects.
Also this weekend as a part of the build up for Flower Power is a BACA clean up, with a focus on tree boxes. May 9th between 9 and 11 or noon, at the corner of 1st and P, neighbors will be gathering together to spruce up the area. It is suggested that you bring your own tools and keep them in your sights.

The Lost Alleys of Shaw- and some other places

I’ve got a whole bunch of photocopies of DC alley related history, circa 1930-1940ish. All of it disorganized, which is my fault. Anyway, armed with my pre-20th century map of Shaw east of 9th St, with all the block squares numbered, I will search for alleys long gone.
Sq. 447- Freeman Place (N, O, 6th, 7th Sts NW)
Sq. 448- Madison Alley (M, N, 6th, 7th Sts NW)- Mt Vernon Sq
Sq. 449- Congress Court (L, M, 6th, 7th Sts NW)- Mt Vernon Sq
Sq. 512- Kings Court (N, O, 4th & 5th Sts NW)
Sq. 514- Browns Court (M, NY Ave, 4th & 5th Sts NW)- Mt Vernon Sq.

On a photocopied list titled “Alleys to be studied for demolition since 1934” a few things pop out.[]-are mine
Sq. 1189 [Georgetown];Copper Shop Alley; House No. 3136 (31, Wis, Water, South NW)
Sq. 1205 [Georgetown]; Bank Street; House No. 1218-20 (33,34,M, Prospect NW)
Sq. 513 [MVSQ]; Ridge St. Court; House No. 440&438 (4,5,M,N NW)
Sq. 419 [Shaw]; Wynns Ct.; House No. 1711, 1709, & 1707 (7,8,R,S NW)
Sq. 367 [MVSQ]; Nailors Alley; House No. 1324-1326 1/2 (9,10,N,O NW)
Sq. 340 [?]; Durrs Court; House No. 1248 (10,11,M,N NW)
Sq. 302 [Shaw?]; Davis Court; House No. 2-5 (11,12,W, Fla)
Sq. 276 [Shaw]; Quaker Court; House No. 1210 (12,13,R, S NW)
Sq. 205 [Shaw]; Waverly Terrace; House No. 1922-26 (14,15,T,U NW)

Why my block is cool

I am just now chilling out having been at a neighbor’s party for the past 3 hours. A lot of my other neighbors were there, and their kids. The toddlers used their cuteness to get picked up and held by random adults. The 3 to 7 year olds ran in bubble blowing screaming packs. The grown ups drank, ate and conversed. New neighbors were introduced (three new households moved on to our block in the last month). A good time was had by all.
Besides the odd party, a number of us do come together over various things. Just this morning the homeowners of the two houses on the end of the block were cleaning up trash from the sidewalks and gutters. We give advice, exchange information, share garden plants, and lend a hand as well as tools. There are parents who get the kids together. And being so physically close to each other, because our houses are only 12 to 18 feet wide and attached, we are constantly interacting with each other.
Most neighbors, provided they haven’t been completely shunned, do get a wave and a nod. And that makes the block pleasant. But what I think makes it cool are these deeper relationships that go beyond exchanging pleasantries. Yesterday I sat in my neighbor’s backyard, joining them for dinner, talking about anything from Justice Souter, LEED building, to what exactly is growing in that pot?
I thought of the party that was to come and the previous evening’s dinner when I read this morning’s Post’s “From Nod and Wave to Know and Share: How to Spark A Neighborly Connection. It got me thinking about my introduction to the block. It began with two of my neighbors serving as the block’s welcome wagon who encouraged me to go the BACA meetings. I met some neighborhood people there. Several people moved in around about the same time I did, so the general curiosity of asking about work being done (our houses were fixer uppers, some more than others) led to introductions. Oh, and the blog helped too. As well as puttering around in the front yard, having roommates who made connections, and seeing familiar faces in places other than the immediate neighborhood (Hey, don’t you live a few houses down from me?). And it builds, neighbors who you already know introduce you to other neighbors, breaking the ice and giving you a chance to find common interests.
Also, as noted in the article, there are people who are more private. Then there are those whose lifestyles are such getting to know the neighbors is hard. Or worse someone could get stuck in the middle of a bunch of private, superbusy, or reclusive neighbors.
I was chatting with one of the new people at the party, and he was telling me how he’d asked his Realtor about bars and restaurants in the area to get a sense of the place. Well we don’t have any bars and the nicest place to sit down is a coffee shop in the next neighborhood over. But what we do have, few real estate agents would know about and if they did know, they probably couldn’t tell you legally.
If you’re a friendly sort of person, couple, or family with really young kids and you want want to settle down on my block, and happen to have between $400-$500K to spend on a townhouse, email me. We have an opening, and I can tell you as much as I can that your Realtor can’t.

MAR Location Fun

The DC Goverment has given us a lovely toy, weeeee! The District of Columbia Master Adress Repository has a cool feature… pictures. I plugged in 424 Q Street NW, which is up for sale but has no picture. So in addition to the location information, there is a tiny thumbnail photo of the house in question. Click on the tumbnail and there is a larger pix. The one for 424 Q St NW has a guy hanging out in the front…. nice.
Hat tip to Imgoph of Bloomingdale (for now).