Gentrification in Shaw- Manna Report

If you haven’t read Manna’s 2003 report you should. It covers rising rents, displacement, the personal impact gentrification is having on long term residents, good stuff. The best part is the photo on the cover (this is a PDF file) of 7th Street right after the riots, with the burned out shells. Okay, not the best part, but the jewels of the report are the personal stories of residents who have experienced the rent increases and non-renewal of leases.
The stories do help illustrate the problem that gentrification has brought. Saying rents have increased, nothing. Saying that one day a renter receives a letter that their 2 bedroom apartment that had been $634 a month was soon going up to $954 in 5 months, says a lot.
Conversions are another thing Manna writes about, that I didn’t think much about before. Not just apartments to condos conversions but from boarding house to single family residence. There are several townhomes that you can see along New Jersey Avenue that are divided into two residences next to homes with the same exterior that are just one residence. The report mentions large townhomes that were formerly boarding homes housing several people at low rents that are now for one family.
A good thing about the report is that is does get into the specifics, naming names and addresses. It mentions location, address of particular apartments and converted and rehabbed homes and also businesses that have felt the impact of gentrification hard.
Of course I disagree with Manna on some points, but that is just my opinion. I don’t disagree that there is gentification going on in Shaw. Hence the title of the blog “In Shaw (now with more gentrification)” which acknowledges the gentrification. I don’t disagree that people are being displaced and the sadness of that.
I have a problem with the concentration of bemoaning the areas west of 9th St. That area has been gentrified. Dead to any hope of making it affordable. Move on. Don’t wring your hands about the unaffordable even to mid middle class folks, lofts and condos. Another problem I have is Manna not coping to it’s role in the gentrification game. Yes, Manna sells homes and condos at rates affordable to the people it is trying to help. I gather to cover operating costs, it also has sold homes AT market rate, reflecting the crazy prices in Shaw. Manna is a non-profit, so is it any better when Manna does it and worse when a for-profit does it too, doing what it was created to do…. profit? I remember when I was first looking to buy they and other non-profit developers had some pretty expensive homes. For the ones you could afford you’d have to get in line or belong to a certain group, or wait for …. whenever.
The solutions that Manna presents, would at best preserve small islands of affordable renting in a sea of gentrification. They desire to preserve Section 8 by helping tenant associations. Good if you are in large enough building where tenants can buy the building. Land development, well maybe public land but with quasi-public organizations like Metro (WMATA), I don’t think so. Maybe they hadn’t heard but Metro doesn’t have enough to pass up maximum money making opportunities. New jobs, well, that might help some. But the kinds of jobs needed to afford the market rate rents and houses around here are a bit unaffordable to folks with “good jobs”. And as with my former neighbors, when the opportunity to pull up stakes so your kid can get a yard, with grass, and enough room to play and run around in, presents itself because you got a good job or can sell the house at $$$, there is nothing saying you’ll stay in Shaw.

Glad I don’t live in Bethesda

I might develop a complex.
Going to Bethesda for dance classes once a week was bad enough.
I’m not going to trash Bethedsa, It is a lovely suburban DC neighborhood filled with well to do Anglos, some of my dearest friends live there. Or used to live there. Or live in North Bethesda, which is actually Rockville (Hi Cammy-Cam). And there are good places to eat, two movie houses, and a slew of other neat stuff.
But for me it would be a horrible place to live.
Going to Bethesda to do stuff with friends was fine, my focus is on my friends. Yet going to Bethesda for dance classes and being stuck there while waiting for those classes to start, I began noticing things. Bethesda has a high population of skinny blonde women. Well skinny women in general. If you are constantly bombarded with the image of skinny salon-perfect-pilates-going-couture-wearing women, you might develop a complex. I would. I might be like Carla, who lives in Bethesda, and worries about weight.
The good thing about Shaw is I feel average and ok. Women in Shaw range from crack-ho skinny, plain skinny, average, chunky, fat, muumuu wearing fat, and “oh my g-d push her back in the water she’s gonna die.” I don’t feel like I’m running around in some beauty contest here, especially after seeing a 50 year old woman in a short top and lowriders with her beer belly hanging all out.
I also feel like I belong here. One of the best things about Shaw is it’s the diversity. Eventhough Shaw is becoming less black and less lower and middle income, it is still diverse. The newcomers accept, on one level or another, the diversity more so than their Fairfax, or Prince William Co. counterparts. It doesn’t make me feel that I don’t belong because I’m not rich enough, nor young enough, or not married, not radical enough, not with it, not white, not skinny, or a whole other litany of things that I am not. I can be a single black average weight middle class govt drone who buys her clothes off eBay, and be ok.