Tightly-Knit Communities in Anacostia

In reading The Washington Post’s investigation into failed affordable housing projects backed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, one piece in particular struck me: the description of one of these failed D.C. projects, which had initially been set for renovation. This particular property was “a 26-unit, rent-controlled building perched on a hillside on 29th Street SE.”

In 2004, when the building was first put on the market, apartment developer Steve Schwat offered $950,000 to buy it. Schwat planned to make repairs without displacing families. At the time, the complex was home to a tightknit group of tenants who would share dinners and keep watch over one another’s children.

The Schwat sale never happened.

Tim Sloan/AFP/Getty Images

A young boy walks to school along Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE in Anacostia.

The positive characterization of this small community contrasts with the stereotypical images and negative descriptions often associated with low-income, predominately black neighborhoods.

A different buyer eventually emerged, though, and the tenants ended up taking buy-out deals in exchange for moving from the building, the Post reports, thus breaking up this close-knit group of residents.