Ward 5 Commentary

Gentrification’s Ugly Fingers Point Again

On March 24, 2010, Council Member Harry Thomas announced that funding was closed for the Rhode Island Avenue Station. The current project has come to a whopping $107 million public-private, mixed use, transit oriented development that will reportedly bring in 274 Class A apartments, 70,000 square feet of main street retail, and a new Metro commuter garage for the station in the middle of Ward 5. According to Boston Apartment Market, a class A apartment is an apartment in one of the most favorable locations with high levels of unit features and amenities. They have state of the art facilities and a definite market presence. The point of these apartments having such nice stuff is because, the site states, they compete for residents willing to pay rents above average for the area.

Ward 5 is home to predominantly Black and lower-income residential areas such as Trinidad and Ivy City.  By driving up the prices of just a few of these homes, they are having an effect on the value of the area. Although the cost of living is on the rise, the employment market has not budged. People, especially people originally living within the city, have not been able to obtain funds to compete with this. With this understood, Mr. Harry Thomas, council member and servant to the people, how do you expect to disallow gentrification from permeating your streets?

Or was this a question that should have been asked when the area surrounding Trinidad was overrun with MetroPol and there was unofficial martial law? Or perhaps when he increased the penalties for offenders who commit crimes within 50 feet of a mass transit stop?

With the new attraction in Washington – this new anomaly we call a Black President – there seems to be a growing need to make the tourists and those who will bring money (as opposed to culture, longevity, and traditionalism) to the area. The displacement of children, the lack of jobs outside of the city, the overbearing police issues (that always seems to affect the residents rather than protect) – when will any of the things happening benefit the largest population in the nation’s capitol?

With Ward 5 on the bandwagon for gentrification what will happen next?