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.