WASHINGTON – Born and raised in Washington, D.C., Captain Donnell Troy has served as a firefighter for 29 years. Being a first responder isn’t new to Captain Troy; his father served as a first responder for nearly 30 years.
Anacostia Entrepreneur Anika Hobbs
East of the 11th Street bridge sits the Anacostia Arts Center. The center has thrived with its focus in opportunity for the surrounding communities. Anika Hobbs houses her boutique, Nubian Hueman, in the Anacostia Arts Center and has found a way to make ethnic style a catalyst for change in the community and in fashion. Howard University News Service’s Rachel Hampton has more on the story.
Paper Produced by the Homeless
More than 11 thousand homeless live in the DC region. Many assume these individuals do not live productive lives. But Street Sense, a DC paper with a purpose, helps those without homes transform their lives one article at a time. Howard University News Service's Rachel Hampton has more on the story.
Annual Fundraiser Provides Brighter Holiday for Needy Families
A tradition of giving continues in Washington, D.C., as WHUR FM held its annual "Food 2 Feed" charitable event. The Howard University and DMW area collected food and donations for the Capital Area Food Bank and Shabach Ministries to help provide a brighter holiday season to needy families. Howard University News Service reporter Precious Osagie-Erese reports.
Residents of Barry Farm Public Housing Community Fear a Future of Uncertainty
After the Civil War, the U.S. government bought land in Southeast Washington to provide a settlement for newly freed slaves. Today, Barry Farm provides public housing to D.C.’s low-income families. With redevelopment in its beginning stages, uncertainty is a major concern among residents in the community. Howard University News Service reporter Ashley Young reports.
WASHINGTON – Yvonne Wynn enjoys sitting on the steps leading up to her home and chatting with her neighbors. Barry Farm is her home. She lives here with her son and daughter, but soon they will have to pack their belongings and move. Barry Farm is set to be demolished and rebuilt into 1,400 mixed-income housing and 50,000 sq. feet of retail space, another project aimed at revitalizing D.C.’s historic communities.
Barry Farm provides public housing to over 300 low-income families. What was once land given to newly freed slaves after the Civil War, is now a public housing community with deep roots. The D.C. Council approved the project in 2006, but just last year phase one was approved to begin relocating residents.
One row of housing of Sumner Rd. is boarded up, the families who occupied it have been relocated. Wynn knows she will soon have to do the same, but she fears relocating to another community where crime is no stranger.
“I feel, you know, those areas are worse than Barry Farm. And my family and I have had bad experiences since we’ve been here and I just don’t want to go into another dwellings and deal with it and it get worse,” said Wynn.
But Wynn has lived here for 6 years and wants to return once the project is complete. This isn’t Wynn’s first time relocating for a redevelopment project. She had to move to Barry Farm when her old neighborhood, Capital Heights Dwellings, started a similar project.
The plan for Barry Farm includes replacing public housing one-for-one. The three and four bedrooms units will no longer be available, as they will be replaced with studios, one bedroom and two bedroom units. And, the initiative even states that these replacement units may be “in proximate off-site locations.”
Many residents fear they will not reap the benefits of the completed project. A bus tour aimed showcasing possible new business ventures in Barry Farm outraged residents and only deepened a fear that they will be displaced. According to the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute, affordable housing has decreased by 50 percent in D.C. the last decade.
D.C. Housing Authority is in charge of the redevelopment plan. After reaching out to them several times, they declined to comment or set up an interview.
Gentrification is becoming a heated debate across the nation. A study by Governing Magazine found more poor families are moving to the suburbs as more middle-class people flock to urban living. The District, Seattle and New Orleans are among the most gentrified cities in America.
Even after attending several meetings between D.C. Housing Authority and the community, Wynn doesn’t feel resident’s concerns are being heard, “I’m tired of it and I’m frustrated. And, you know, I just pray every day that things will work better for my family, because I deserve better.”
Low Prices, Healthy Options for Underserved D.C. Residents
Each day a green truck or school bus can be found on the streets of Washington, D.C., but the bus is not full of students. It is stocked with fresh and healthy food options for the community. Howard University News Service reporter Bianca Burns has the story.
WASHINGTON – In her first public meeting with Ward 8 residents since her election, Councilwoman LaRuby May discussed a number of areas of improvement for the District’s poorest community, and public safety was among her top priorities.
Chosen in a special election in April following the death of longtime Councilman and former Mayor Marion Barry, May introduced a new plan for increased neighborhood policing and asked a local police official to address scores of concerned citizens on public safety Saturday (June 13) morning at the Allen Chapel AME Church in Southeast Washington.
Seventh District Commander Willie Dandridge told the audience that one police initiative was ShotSpotter, a gunshot detection system used by the police to identify the general location of most gunfire.
May urged residents to help by notifying police if shots are heard in their neighborhood. Dandridge and May said they hoped to foster better relations between police and residents .
May introduced her Purple Hats Community Walk, a neighborhood patrol that would meet once a week and walk through trouble spots in the community to help with public safety.
May told residents that it is up to them as well as her office to become involved in improving their community.
“This is about doing the work, not just about having the talk,” she said. Her statement was met with applause and excited murmur of agreement from the attendees.
Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Paul Trantham offered an additional public safety and environmental concern.
Trantham said he’d “love to see the councilmember tackle the motorcycles terrorizing the community.” .
Despite the initial discussion of policing concerns, Rhonda Edward-Hines, also an Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) membercommissioner said unfortunately too many people have a misperception of safety in her neighborhood.
“There’s a myth about Ward 8 [and] how dangerous it is, that it’s not community friendly,” Edward-Hines said, “and that’s not true.”
More than 100 residents and community leaders attended the session, , including other ANC commissioners, representatives from the Waker Foundation, Congress Heights Civic Association and the Washington School for Girls.
May and her staff asked each attendee to sign up for one of several committees to work on community concerns, such as public safety, education, the environment, and one called “Push for 7: Ward Growth and Prosperity.”
The groups met later during the teamwork section of the meeting to outline issues and strategies to tackle problems.
Concerns with education included infrastructure renovation, fund allocation as well as truancy among students. According to a March 2015 report released by the Children’s Law Center and the D.C. Lawyers for Youth, 56 percent of high school students in District public schools were chronically absent during the 2013 – 2014 school year.
May told the audience it was important for children to get a good early start in education.
“We see the effects of a poor start in life,” she said. “If you start behind, it’s hard to catch up.”
Environmental concerns revolved around the state of the residential and commercial properties in Ward 8 that have been abandoned or are vacant, accumulating excessive trash and debris.
May suggested residents meet four times a month to clean the neighborhood.
May pointed out that Ward 8 has the lowest numbers of complaints about derelict property to the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, regulates rental housing and real estate.
May told the crowd residents need to hold those who are responsible accountable for it,”
May encouraged teamwork among the community in order to, “put everyone in the best place to do their job effectively.”
This is especially true for the Push for 7 initiative, she said, which will concentrate on attacking issues and encouraging change from a policy perspective. In order for it to be effective May encourages the community to reach out to the other seven council members in the District about the changes they want to see.
Myra Murray, a volunteer for the Waker Foundation, said she thought May offered a great start.
“She is very confident and a morale builder,” Murray said. “She can bring the community together in order to implement her agenda.”
May said she wants to make sure Ward 8 is never left out of the conversation.
“[We are] not asking for anything extra,” May said. “We’re asking for what we deserve”
Ward 7 Residents Face $100,000 Decision
If you suddenly came into a $100,000 gift, what you would do with it? Would you buy that expensive sports car or that luxury SUV you’ve been pining over? Would you use it to buy shares in Facebook or Alibaba or make an investment in a conservative mutual fund? Would you buy your first home, buy a second home or fix up the one you already have?
Residents of Ward 7 are wrestling with that very question. They are debating what they should do with a $100,000 windfall that has recently fallen into their laps.
The discussion began when a compact crowd gathered at the Washington Tennis and Education Foundation building on Kennedy and 16th streets in Northwest Washington for their monthly Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) meeting in October.
Filled with mostly representatives of the City Year organization, a non-profit organization dedicated to curbing the drop-out rate in elementary, middle and high schools, residents learned they had received $100,000 through the community benefits program with Donatelli Developers, a privately owned corporation that has been building office buildings, apartment communities, shopping centers, industrial properties and residential subdivisions in metropolitan Washington.
In exchange for a favorable decision before city officials to build subsidized housing on a tract of land in the Brightwood neighborhood, Donatelli has given the community a present. In this case, the community asked for a lump sum of money and ended up with $100,000.
The City Year volunteers, dressed in red and khaki uniforms, took out their notepads anxious to take notes and scribble new ideas for the newfound money. Its members started the discussion.
One suggested improving the quality of books the students use and creating an after-school space for students to continue their learning.
Brande Otis, a college student and another member of City Year, told the group that the community must be frugal with its monetary award.
“We are not getting a lot of resources,” Otis said.
Jon Kemp, a resident, was optimistic about the education project.
“I think there are a lot of bright kids with a lot of great ideas and we just got to get out of their way and encourage them,” Kemp said.
He suggested joining with groups that will encourage kids to create their own businesses and employ themselves. He also threw out the notion of giving students a cash reward from the $100,000 for their ideas.
“Find people you can work with and establish relationships,” he said. “I don’t think college is the be all deal.”
ANC Commissioner Karen Settles suggested putting the money towards youth activities or even putting some of it in a reserve fund, challenging businesses to match dollars.
The left over money could then be used to continue working programs that don’t have constant funding.
“Because of the lack of consistency in the community, young people don’t want to be committed, because they feel like it isn’t going to last that long,” she said. “I’ve listened to it.”
Another constituent expressed concern about the current transporation for elementary grade students. Having grade school children taking public transportation with strangers is an uncomfortable thing for parents, she said. Others at the meeting agreed with her and said they would prefer another mode of transportation for grade school children.
Other proposals included spending the money to start career centers to encourage the idea of college to youngsters, sponsoring community cleanups and starting mentorship programs in the community.
More than a month after its initial discussions, the group still has not made a decision on what to do with the $100,000.
“I think we need more information in order for us to disburse it the way we should,” Settles said.