2001 vs 2005

This weekend I did something I wouldn’t even think about 4 years ago. I walked up to the Dunkin Donuts around dusk, then took a different route back home, going down the 1700 block of 4th Street. Four years ago there was no Dunkin Donuts, and the 1700 block of 4th would sometimes be a wild party zone of shady-looking characters hanging out. For about a couple of years a non-resident tranny would take it upon herself to illegally block the street and have a block party. On a block that wasn’t hers. This weekend the block was very, very dull and quiet. Four years ago several of the homes on the block were vacant and lots of guys of various ages hang out. There are still the old guys who hang out, but when you’re retired, old and craggly, what are you going to do? The younger neighborhood drug dealers who ruled the block are seen less often, they aren’t gone because I do see them, but not as much. Menacing looking teens mingled in, but now, they seem to congregate near their friends houses, hanging out in the front yard and leaning on the fence.
A more disturbing change since 2001 I’m noticing near the R Street side of the metro station. When the Waltha T. Daniels library, across the street from the station, was open, scraggly looking folk who hang out near the bus stop. Sometimes, they’d get on the bus. This year I’m noticing a camp of homeless and hanger outs taking over the rear courtyard of a now closed library. I swear as time goes on more people keep hanging out there. This week, in the morning on the way to work, in the small park between Marion and 6th along Rhode Island I’m noticing a guy who has been sleeping in the park. This is odd considering there is a men’s homeless shelter across the street. Time has seemed not to have changed the park at 1st and Florida. Same old group. New fence put in. Same old group still hanging out.
One last change I want to recognize is the Korean Protestants. They served the homeless and needy out of their “House of Peace” on the 1700 block of 4th four years ago. The problem, from my perspective was that it was not run very well and just served as a hangout joint for the dealers, users, and other downtrodden with little supervision from the church. Now the “House of Peace” is gone, replaced by a dry cleaners that has been threatening to open for months. The Koreans now operate out of a large townhome around the corner, where they are more involved in their missionary work and being better neighbors.