Is A ‘World-Class City’ Code For An ‘Upper-Class City?’

Renters, unlike homeowners, are quite vulnerable to being priced out when neighborhoods undergo revitalization. That’s why D.C. nonprofit Manna has launched a campaign to increase affordable homes for low-income residents to buy. The group is focusing its efforts east of the Anacostia River, which has some of the most affordable neighborhoods to buy a home. But that may not last, given all of the development slated for the area.

Washington Post’s Courtland Milloy profiles Manna founder Jim Dickerson, who talks about how to close the gap between the rich and the poor in D.C. Dickerson says, “Instead of spending money trying to make poor people comfortable in poverty, we could be using homeownership to help liberate them.”

From 2000 to 2007, the city lost about a third of its low-cost rental units, much of it replaced by housing for upper-income residents. Income inequity in the District is among the highest in the country. And judging from proposed cuts in city services for the poor, the wealth gap appears to be accompanied by a sympathy gap that’s just as wide.

“People talk about making Washington into a world-class city. But sometimes I think that’s just a code word for upper-class only,” said Dickerson, who is also founder and pastor of New Community Church in Shaw.

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  • Blair Ruble

    There is a genuinely interesting discussion by David McDonald of what “World City” or “World Class City” means in the context of gentfrification.  He looks at Cape Town and, alas, one could substitute DC for CT in too many places.  For those interested in the coding of “world-class city” be sure to check out David McDonald, “World City Syndrome. Neoliberalism and Inequality in Cape Town published by Routledge in 2008.

  • Be

    one could also suggest that it’s code for a safe city where residents don’t shoot each other as often as they do in DC. or maybe it’s code for a place where most of the children graduate high school with a decent education. or maybe it’s not code at all.