So I was reading this post from the City Paper about new, affordable housing coming to Shaw:
It’s a tentative plan, but a plan nonetheless: Lincoln Westmoreland Housing Inc. is moving forward with a 50-unit apartment complex on 7th and R Street NW, right next to the 10-story behemoth constructed right after the 1968 riots.
The new building, designed by Shalom Baranes architects, could not be more ideally located: It sits directly above the Shaw metro station (part of the land will be purchased from WMATA), and across the street from the new Shaw library. It will replace a decked-over parking lot, have retail on the ground floor, and still leave some green space for a sculpture installation.
“Affordable” is the key word here, because as Lydia DePillis reported, the units would be accessible “for people making 60 percent of the area median income”. Sounds great, right? I love neighborhoods that have a range of people from all backgrounds–it’s my favorite thing about Columbia Heights, where there is everything from affordable housing to $3,000 converted condos. The readers who commented on her piece had a different, more bitter take:
Building looks nice and hopefully they will balance income levels. 60% AMI residents will be a welcome addition to the neighborhood and attract civil servants, firefighters, police, teachers etc. But if they decide to concentrate the extremely low income/AMI residents in this building, well they might as well hand over the building to the local thugs so they can have a nice shiny new HQ from which to terrorize the rest of the neighborhood from. [wcp]
Commenter “Sally” was blunter, but on to something– another commenter referred to “yet another warehouse of concentrated poverty. Disgusting.”:
Make it actual workforce housing, not the usual poor people storage facility. [wcp]
Disgusting is right. So the people to whom Sally and other commenters are referring are objects to be stored. Storage facilities and warehouses are places for things forgotten, for the unnecessary crap we don’t have room for, which should remain out of sight. Language, people. Language.
Commenter “Q-Street” added:
I really can’t take another subsidized property in the neighborhood. I’m paying my mortgage month to month while my neighbors walk around drunk all day and talk about the ‘man’ keeping them down burning trash and peeing in public. Let Dupont or Chevy Chase take the next subsidized housing complex for f*cks sake. [wcp]
I feel for this person, I really do. I can’t imagine how frustrating it must be to pour all of your money, hopes and dreams in to a home of your very own only to move in and witness crimes being committed, all around you. That’s what public drunkenness, arson and public urination sound like, to me– crimes. It must be disheartening.
Having typed that, I also wonder if a lot of the gentrification-related rage in this city is born from an impatience that neighborhoods aren’t prettying up as quickly as newer, more affluent residents had hoped they would. It’s tough to be the new family on the block, but someone is always first, aren’t they? Or second, or third. I have sympathy for fed-up homeowners but only to a certain point; if the grittiness of a transitional area will be too much to bear, I’d suggest a different neighborhood. If crime-ridden neighborhoods are all someone can afford, then the real problem is access to affordable housing for all of us– not drunken neighbors, which Shaw hardly has a monopoly on…public drunks have annoyed me in Kalorama, Georgetown and even my current building. Is an inebriated sorority girl who is shoeless and screaming hysterically on Irving street less annoying than someone railing about “the man”? Or is she just prettier, less threatening, and thus more acceptable?