Washington City Paper's Handbook for the Responsible Gentrifier Can you ride a wave of demographic change without being a jerk? A manual for newbies.


So, you’re gentrifying the nation’s capital! Congratulations.

In moving into Washington at this juncture of history, you’ve joined a long, proud tradition. New Deal liberals, Great Society dreamers, and Clinton-era wonks all helped transform the various District neighborhoods they called home.

But here in the Obama era, your generation of gentrifiers has become a force far stronger than any prior class of arriviste. In the most recent 18-month period cited by the U.S. Census Bureau, pokey old D.C. has grown more than any state, adding 2.7 percent to a population that not so long ago was shrinking reliably. That population bump is equal to half of the total growth in the previous ten years.

And, according to Uncle Sam, some three-quarters of the newcomers were in what vendors of up-market dessert products, vintage furniture, and digitally-enabled transportation services know as the demographically attractive 18-to-34 year old range.

Or, as the crankier of your new neighbors might put it: myopic little twits.

Perhaps you didn’t know this before you plunked down some actuarially unsound multiple of your household income on that gorgeous-but-tattered rowhouse in the middle of some forlorn-but-improving block, but in buying into Washington, you’ve bought into the single greatest divide in local politics.

On one side: enthusiastic residents who know that an influx of comparatively affluent newbies adds up to the critical mass required to support the kinds of commercial amenities—little restaurants in Petworth, big Whole Foods stores in Logan Circle—for which they used to have to travel to the suburbs, or entirely different cities. On the other: wary residents who worry that you’ll either price them out of their homes or reshape D.C. around a lifestyle they never signed up for.

In the middle: the leadership of a local government that went bust two decades ago and knows that growing the tax base is the key to avoiding a repeat—but also has to answer to voters freaked out by the prospect of losing their beloved old D.C. Adding to the confusion, those voters hardly see eye to eye on what constitutes a gentrifier, or on which specific changes they oppose. The contradictors list includes higher prices, more bars, nocturnal noise, architectural density, too many bikes, too little parking, dogs, excessively whiny newcomers, insufficiently community-spirited newcomers, and snowball fights.

Oh, and because this is the District of Columbia, there’s also race. In a town that has known slavery and legal segregation as well as block-busting and political disenfranchisement, it lies just beneath the surface of any conversation.

But here’s the thing: While some politicians may demagogue demographic change—and others refuse to acknowledge it for fear of offending either their new constituents or their old ones—it’s actually pretty hard to blame or credit individual residents for the city’s transformations. You don’t have to be a hardcore Marxist to know that people’s residential choices are a function of vast economic forces like interest rates, incomes, suburban commute times, gasoline prices, and so on. The desire of some experimentally bearded liberal-arts grad to bicycle out in search of a late-night local beer is a pretty puny factor by comparison.

Local government, currently, isn’t all that much more powerful. Sure, there are public policy fixes that could reduce the real estate pressure on some residents—or incentives to pull even more people into the city. But absent significant interventions that carry their own consequences, most of the things elected officialdom could do to slow gentrification is stuff no one wants: Crime could soar again, or schools could get even worse. Those changes, of course, would hurt existing residents way more than up-market house-hunters.

Still, just because we’re all being blown about by the hot breath of global capitalism doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of interpersonal agita along the way. The minor collisions that coincide with the city’s ongoing evolution represent a master narrative of 21st-century Washington. Did you hear about the clueless guy who offered to pay his new neighbors when they helped push his car out of the snow? Did you read about the short-sighted Advisory Neighborhood Commission NIMBYs who rejected the liquor-license application of a nice new café that had taken over a space once occupied by a bullet-proofed liquor store? Have you heard proponents of raising the city’s building height limit dismissed as people who hate D.C.—or opponents of the idea lampooned as oldsters stuck in the District’s sleepy southern past?

Of course you have.

Is there any way to avoid all this unpleasantness? Most real people, in fact, want about the same thing from their neighborhoods: affordability, safety, cleanliness, some stuff to buy and eat, and an easy way to get around. Our definitions of these things may vary. But one question that comes up repeatedly in Washington is what ethical onus lies with you, the newcomer. Must you defer regularly to prevailing neighborhood norms? Given that you’re now just as much of a resident as the old-timer next door, can you push back without guilt? It’s complicated! Below, some efforts to answer the question.

No, You can’t - Sorry, folks. Good intentions don’t much matter when it comes to gentrification.

About a year before DCUSA opened in Columbia Heights, I was a sociology undergrad dispatched to D.C. to conduct an ethnography on gentrifiers in wards 1 and 2. I had recently wrapped up several months of research on Washington’s history of race and class segregation, and I came to D.C. with an armload of dense, seething books on social stratification, half-expecting to encounter people dancing on the grave of Marion Barry’s D.C.

That’s not what I got. I interviewed educated, middle-class residents—black, white, and Latino—who were hip to skyrocketing rents. They knew that D.C.’s poorest residents were being tossed over the District line with startling alacrity; they nodded empathetically. Violent crime was down, but racial tensions were high; pawn shops were out, boutiques in. They got that.

They just didn’t think it was their responsibility.

There’s an old joke that in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, the gentrifier is the guy who moves in two weeks after you. In 2007, nearly every resident I spoke to expressed a variant on that idea: That gentrifiers were, specifically, “suburban” types who looked, thought, and consumed a particular way. Describing the gentrifiers of Shaw and Lincoln Park, two participants independently referred to blonde women pushing strollers. It made me wonder who the stroller-pushing blonde women thought the real gentrifiers were. Erecting straw men—wealthy, powerful people who could turn D.C. into one big Pier 1 Imports with the flip of a Rolodex—seemed to reassure recent transplants that they weren’t unwelcome in their new neighborhoods. There was always someone richer or whiter on the horizon.

Some folks thought that “belongingness” could be purchased or earned, like stamps on a frequent-buyer card. One new Columbia Heights homeowner told me he sometimes dined at the “dirty little” Chinese restaurant near his home because it was his way of “keep[ing] the old Columbia Heights alive.” Others thought they had to get jumped first. A longtime Shaw homeowner said that, back in the early ‘80s, he earned his stripes when he was mugged by a group of teens in Thomas Circle. “I deserved to lose my gold watch,” he said. “I wasn’t street smart... But I wisened up. I haven’t been jumped since 1982.” To him, that terrifying night doubled as a kind of hazing ceremony.

One young, white, anarchist type said he was frustrated that other people didn’t understand him: He didn’t mean to be a gentrifier, but his whiteness was confusing people. “It’s really hard to exist in a city and convince people of color, though I have friends of color, that you’re not, or at least aspire...to not be a gentrifier,” he said.

Does anyone aspire to be a gentrifier, or does it just happen? Would gentrification be so fraught if white, middle-class newcomers could only prove their good intentions to black and Latino people? Do good intentions matter at all?

Probably not. All comments seemed to miss the point: that gentrification is a systemic and complex process in which they played a minor part. Some gentrifiers were more proactive than others—they volunteered, blogged, petitioned, organized, and made friends with their neighbors. But they were hung up on the politics of belonging. Then, just like now, talk of Big-Picture Things, like public policy or the overall health and stability of neighborhoods, is too often reduced to chatter about blonde women, strollers, and Chinese takeout.

Glossary - Some D.C. words or phrases your new or old neighbors might be using.

Anacostia: (noun) Small neighborhood in the Southeast quadrant, roughly bounded by Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, Good Hope Road, 16th Street, and Maple View Place. Not to be used to refer to the two wards and dozens of neighborhoods east of the Anacostia River, no matter how many people who live west of the river think they’re all the same.

Bamma: (noun) One who is tacky, tasteless, and poorly yet flashily dressed. A show-off and a clown. See also: Trifling, ratchet. (adj. Bammafied)

Black Broadway, the: (noun) U Street NW when Duke Ellington used to perform—but before his name adorned a pricey condo building.

Lunchin’: (verb) Spaced out, lacking presence of mind, sometimes due to a drug induced state.

Native Washingtonian: (noun) One who was born and raised in the District, preferably with several generations of native-Washingtonian forebears. Other uses: As a cudgel against newcomers to community meetings and fora.

Plan, the: A belief held by many long-time residents that there is a structural plan to move blacks out of D.C. and replace them with whites. You’re part of it.

Twit, myopic little: (noun) Socially networked Adrian Fenty supporter new to D.C. who spends more time on Twitter than talking to their veteran neighbors. Also: Someone who Courtland Milloy has not interviewed.

Saditty: (adj.) Stuck up.

Sleepy Southern Town: (noun) What Washington was at some time prior to when the person using the term first arrived.

Streetcars: (1) Overpriced way to work for people who don’t have cars; (2) A sign of progress in walkability and urban sustainability; (3) (alt.) a way to implement the Plan.

Ward 9: (noun) Prince George’s County. Referred to as Ward 9 because of the large numbers of native Washingtonians who relocate there from the District.

Good Neighbors - It turns out good fences aren’t the only thing that makes them.

What do residents actually want out of their neighbors? Believe it or not, the pesky newcomers and stubborn long-timers have fairly similar requirements for the people they’d like to live around.

We talked to residents of the 100 block of Bates Street NW in Truxton Circle, and those hanging out a few blocks away at Bloomingdale’s Big Bear Café.


Name: Sharon Manning
In neighborhood for: “Several years”

“They should mind their own business—noise, parties, music, they call the cops. Maybe they need a man or something so they can mind their own business.” But Manning adds that she’d like neighbors that look out for each other, too.


Name: “Tricky” Rick Reid
In neighborhood for: “All my life”

“I’m a bad neighbor gone good. Growth and patience taught me to be a good neighbor.” Reid, who claims to be the self-appointed mayor of Bates Street, relays this advice: “Be yourself. If you’re jerk, you get jerked off.”


Name: Laura Westman
In neighborhood for: Three years

“My neighbors are super-friendly. I went to [George Washington University], where people are always going to work, and it took awhile to understand people here are being genuinely nice and don’t have an ulterior motive.” Westman relays that her next-door neighbor passed along some leftovers after she lauded his cooking skills.


Name: Hellen Papavizas
In neighborhood for: Nearly a year

“A couple of things: Respect for your neighbors, awareness, appreciation, sense of community....I love the neighborhood. [My neighbors] seem to look out for one another too. If they notice things, they give us a heads-up.” Papavizas adds that when she moved in last summer, she “was practically met by a welcoming committee.”


Name: Christina Samuels
In neighborhood for: Four years

“Quiet and clean. That’s about it: clean and quiet, and courteous and mindful; someone that can watch the house when you’re out of town.” Samuels’ immaculate front garden apparently inspired some friendly competition: “I started cleaning up the yard and all of a sudden they did it, and they did it, and now it’s like a battle on the block!”


Name: Ronald Herring
In neighborhood for: “Grew up here”

“I speak to everyone...there’s different lifestyles but you’ve got to respect people. I miss the block parties. Now people sit on their stoops but the whole street doesn’t get together.” Herring adds that it bothers him when neighbors don’t say hello in passing.


Name: Janice Kyle
In neighborhood for: 16 years

“I don’t know any of my neighbors. I don’t want to...I go to work and go home.” Though Kyle’s been in the neighborhood for some time, she prefers to keep to herself.


Name: Amanda Johnson
In neighborhood for: Two years

“I’m not friends with the people next door, but I see my second-floor neighbor often. We’re working on a garden together. I think general friendliness and the willing to make shared spaces more awesome are important.” Johnson doesn’t see many of her other neighbors out and about, but if she did, she’d “definitely say hello.”


Name: Michael Snook
In neighborhood for: “I haven’t been there too long.”

“I don’t generally end up forming bonds with people because we’re not the same age or into the same things, but it’s nice to be able to say hello.” Though Snook doesn’t necessarily hang out with his neighbors, he feels welcome on his Petworth street.

Civic Center - Get to know your neighborhood from a public-services point of view

What ANC do I live in?

There are eight wards in D.C. Each one is represented by a councilmember and broken down into Advisory Neighborhood Commissions, which are further subdivided into single-member districts. To find out in which you’re located, go to D.C. Citizen Atlas. Type in your address. Click on the generated report. Under the “Administrative” tab, there’s a line item called “ANC.” (The number preceding the letter indicates what ward you live in.)

What’s an ANC, anyway?

As the city’s website says, “The Advisory Neighborhood Commissions consider a wide range of policies and programs affecting their neighborhoods, including traffic, parking, recreation, street improvements, liquor licenses, zoning, economic development, police protection, sanitation and trash collection, and the District’s annual budget....The ANCs are the body of government with the closest official ties to the people in a neighborhood.” So monthly ANC meetings are basically a clearinghouse for all those nitpicky little annoyances that come up in your immediate surroundings—like that nightclub whose bass is thumping too loudly into the night, or the overzealous ticketing by the city’s parking enforcement.

Do I have a neighborhood association?

Maybe. There’s no recently updated central listing of neighborhood associations, so your best bet is to Google “[your neighborhood] + neighborhood association.” Many neighborhood associations have strong online presences; some put on events to raise money, like the Logan Circle Community Association’s annual holiday house tour.

Why is a neighborhood association not an ANC?

ANCs were created as part of the Home Rule charter, so they’re required by law to exist (and, generally, to meet monthly). They’re also funded in part by the D.C. government and staffed by elected officials; candidates for ANC office run for election, just like councilmembers. Neighborhood associations are less formal bodies, which is why not every neighborhood may have one. However, some have membership requirements, like applications and dues.

How to I show my support—or disgust!—for a new business?

Show up to a meeting and tell the people there to represent you how you feel (or send an email, or make a phone call). ANCs can make recommendations to city departments like the Office of Planning or the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration that carry “great weight”—that is, an ANC doesn’t get to say “yes” or “no” to the new restaurant with locally sourced arugula and sidewalk seating, but it can influence the agencies that do. Neighborhood associations don’t have the same kind of clout because they’re not government bodies, but they can still issue statements that might influence people at the top.

There’s trash in my alley. What do I do?

If it’s in your alley, then it’s most likely the responsibility of the Department of Public Works (which “collects trash once or twice per week from single-family residences and residential buildings with three or fewer living units”). Information on all kinds of trash collection can be found on DPW’s website, under the “Sanitation Services” tab on the left. For big items—like the potentially bedbug-ridden mattress your neighbor wants to junk—call 311 to schedule an appointment for bulk trash pickup. Appointments are typically available within seven to 10 days.

What do I need to do to plan a block party?

Permits, alas, once needed to go through the Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency—a regulatory maze. But effective this past Monday, block-party permissions will be available through the city transportation department’s Online Permit System, just like every other public-space permit in the city. Applicants still need to obtain consent of 51 percent of the households on the block; the party can’t exceed two intersecting streets, among other things.

The Gentricist - Our handy problem-solving tool for some high-profile gentrification-era controversies.

The situation: You are a white newcomer on a block that’s been majority-black. One snowy morning, you see a neighbor is shoveling the sidewalk in front of the house across the street from his own. You’d like to have your own sidewalk shoveled, too.

Do you:
A) Ask him how much he would charge to shovel your sidewalk
B) Shovel your own sidewalk

The Gentricist says: Use your eyes! According to a piece the man in question subsequently published in the Washington Post, he was wearing a $500 Polo jacket—something that doesn’t suggest he was looking to earn a few extra bucks via shoveling. Also, if you’d gotten to know your block in the first place, you might have learned that the sidewalk belonged to a “little old lady” the man was helping out.

Verdict: Newbie, be neighborly!

The situation: You are a prominent political consultant currently working on a citywide election campaign. You have been asked by a newspaper reporter to describe the electorate’s changing demographics.

Do you:
A) Mouth some platitude about unity and diversity
B) Deride the newcomers as people who only care about “doggie parks and bike lanes.”

The Gentricist says: Do the math! It’s going to be hard for any politician to not fire someone for conspicuously dissing a large chunk of potential voters. Besides, it’s a stupid statement, anyway: With a few minutes’ worth of conversation with your new fellow Washingtonians, you’d learn that most newcomers want the same thing as most native-born residents: Safe streets, a decent government, and basic amenities.

Verdict: Oldster, get real!

The situation: You are a real estate developer building an upscale apartment building in the U Street NW corridor, an area once known as America’s Black Broadway due to the prevalence of African-American cultural venues. Though you know most of the residents are likely to be whites, this heritage is the area’s strongest selling point.

Do you:
A) Go ahead and name your building after a leading light of jazz
B) Give it some bland, culturally nondescript name.

The Gentricist says: It depends! Calling your building The Ellington, like the one at 1301 U Street, sounds kinda classy, and represents a respectful—if Cosby Show-esque—embrace of tradition. On the other hand, naming the planned structure at the corner of 14th Street The Louis (and offering a too-cute explanation that its namesakes include both Louis Armstrong and Louis XIV) is kinda douchey.

Verdict: Developer, be careful!

Gentrification Literature, Briefly - Short reviews of long books about the g-word.

Title: A Neighborhood That Never Changes: Gentrification, Social Preservation, and the Search for Authenticity

By: Japonica Brown-Saracino

Gentrification is...: “...An economic and social process whereby private capital (real estate firms, developers) and individual homeowners and renters reinvest in fiscally neglected neighborhoods (or towns) through housing rehabilitation, loft conversion, and the construction of new housing.”

Review: How some cities realized their process of transition was not identical to that of others.

Title: From Despair to Hope: HOPE VI and the New Promise of Public Housing in America’s Cities

By: Henry G. Cisneros and Lora Engdahl, editors

Gentrification is...: “Implicit in the notion of moving from segregated, dysfunctional public housing projects to mixed-income neighborhoods was the hope—not the fear—of an improved environment, neighborhoods that were safer and richer in social capital. Some displacement was inevitable...”

Review: How cities in transition learned to stop worrying and love federal government subsidies.

Title: House by House, Block by Block: The Rebirth of America’s Urban Neighborhoods

By: Alexander von Hoffman

Gentrification is...: “...Nothing new; middle-class newcomers have been elevating the tone of old neighborhoods since the early twentieth century....Starting in the 1960s, young single people and couples, many of whom were homosexual, began occupying and painstakingly restoring historic buildings, often nineteenth-century row houses, with stoops and bow fronts, high ceilings, and elegantly crafted woodwork....By the end of the century, the new urban gentry had all but taken over the old neighborhoods, and any remaining poor blacks or Latinos held on in small pockets and subsidized housing projects.”

Review: How cities in transition learned to stop worrying and love community-based revitalization efforts.

Title: The New Urban Frontier: Gentrification and the Revanchist City

By: Neil Smith

Gentrification is...: “...The process, I would begin, by which poor and working-class neighborhoods in the inner city are refurbished via an influx of private capital and middle-class homebuyers and renters—neighborhoods that had previously experienced disinvestment and a middle-class exodus.”

Review: How cities in transition realized the Plan is an international truth.

Title: There Goes the ’Hood: Views of Gentrification from the Ground Up

By: Lance Freeman

Gentrification is...: “Gentrification has been depicted as the manifestation of changing cultural, demographic, and economic circumstances among the new middle class, and elsewhere it has been described as representing the bourgeoisie’s revenge on the underclass of the inner city.”

Review: How Harlem realized that its long-term residents were more than mere victims of a city in transition.

Title: Turf Wars: Discourse, Diversity, and the Politics of Place

Author: Gabriella Gahlia Modan

Gentrification is...: “Briefly put...the ‘upscaling’ of a neighborhood. It is a process whereby poor neighborhoods with well-built but generally rundown housing stock gain new, comparatively more well-off residents. This results in individual and commercial housing rehabilitation and investment, which drives up real estate prices and displaces the original, poorer residents who cannot afford increased rent or property taxes.” Correction: Due to an editing error, this piece originally misquoted this definition.

Review: How Mount Pleasant realized that language barriers in neighborhoods in transition are more complicated than bars hawking craft brews.


Our Readers Say

Just to clarify one thing: Courtland Milloy isn't our neighbor. He moved to MD about a decade ago. Which puts him in the same class as all the well-off white folk who live in McLean, vote to deny DC tax reciprocity, and think they've got all the answers. He can kindly bugger off. Deserter.
At least we're doing it better than Portland!
This is a very interesting article. However, it didn't touch much on the racial tensions between longtime or native Washingtonian and new white wealthy privileged residents. Most of the new white residents, gay and straight walk around as if they don't have a care in the world.
This is painful. Why are Americans so bloody race-obsessed? How can anyone find anything negative about tax-paying, law-abiding people (of any race) moving into a neighborhood, planting pansies, baking cupcakes, helping older neighbors take their trash bins to the street, picking up litter, and generally making this a better place to live? There is no Plan. This is the nature of things: good people will come in and try to affect positive change. Other people will resist and somehow find a way to call it racist. Why is DC so fucking allergic to common sense?
Your problem, AKA Soror, is that you see all white people as "wealthy" and "privileged" without having any insight into their background other than the fact that they are here and they are white. Isn't that racist?
Washingtonian, yes I see only the whites living in D.C. as being wealthy and privileged. It was an article in the Washington Post this week discussing this issues. There aren't any poor, lower class, trailer park white residents in D.C. like in Baltimore, Maryland, Philadelphia, Pa, and in other U.S. cities.
Wealthy? Perhaps. Privileged? Absolutely not. Why judge any book by its cover anyway? Why use words like gentrification, success, restoration, and wealth as pejoratives?
@District of C:

Interesting piece. I'd take issue with:

<i>Longtime residents are being forced out by younger, wealthier residents.</i>

This is wrong. A more plausible interpretation of the stats show that, as the children of current residents become adults, they move away from the old neighborhood. Bigger house for less money. They leave their parents (and poor siblings) in the old neighborhood. Or they sell their parents/grandparents houses for 20x what they paid for them.

(Ever wonder how a place like Chinatown can exist in NYC or SF? It's because the people living in that enclave value long-term community over cashing out in the short term.)

The changing face of DC's neighborhoods have three causes:
1) The Fair Housing Act of 1969 allowing people the freedom to live where they choose.

2) The last two generations of black home buyers increasingly choosing the suburban lifestyle.

3) This generation of young people increasingly choosing to live in a non-suburb.

The plight of the "renter class" is a real concern. And while the overall gentrification effect puts upward pressure on rents obviously, DC has some of the strongest rent controls and tenant rights in the country. Renters are generally more migratory than non-renters, and the flight of black middle-class culture to the suburbs (which mirrors the white flight of a couple decades earlier) tends to make the "old neighborhood" less attractive to renters. More expensive; less attractive. That's the force that drives the exodus.

The tension comes when the folks left behind (and those who left, but come back to visit grandma, or go to church) look for a scapegoat to pin the changing neighborhood on. They miss the way the neighborhood was in the "good old days", and wish things were the same. Of course, they're to blame for the fact that the neighborhood has changed. And guilt always fuels anger.

Call it the Courtland Milloy Effect.

Anyway, people who decry the influx of white folks into the "old neighborhood" are no different than the racist xenophobes who decry "all these Mexicans" who've moved into Aspen Hill over the last decade or two. Things change.
One last thing: white residents *are* wealthy and privileged. At least in comparison with long-time black residents. The reason for this is that, with few exceptions, the children of long-time residents who "make it" move to the suburbs. Those who don't stay. Along with grandma. Therefore, you're left with the very poor and the very old.

If you look only at "newcomers" to DC, you'll see that they are significantly more diverse than American society at large (The post reported that only 53% of the newcomers where white). They're also better educated and have white-collar jobs.
Cities change over time. DC was majority white for most of its existence and that only changed sometime in the late 1950's. The District might well be majority white again by the end of this decade.

People move in and out of cities for various reasons. No one has the right to expect their block, neighborhood or city to remain the same forever. And gentrification is a purely voluntary process- one person wants to buy a home while another person wants to sell. Both parties end up happy.

If people don't like the process, too bad.
The definition for gentrification in "Turf Wars" (in the Gentrification Literature section) should actually read, "... drives up real estate prices and displaces the original, poorer residents who cannot afford increased RENT OR property taxes.” (p.31, note 2).
From the Ally Schweitzer piece: One young, white, anarchist type said he was frustrated that other people didn’t understand him: He didn’t mean to be a gentrifier, but his whiteness was confusing people. “It’s really hard to exist in a city and convince people of color, though I have friends of color, that you’re not, or at least aspire...to not be a gentrifier,” he said.

The above harkens right back to AKA Soror's point about the lack of a white working class in DC proper. This is also precisely why BOTH race and class factor into gentrification as it pertains to this city. And folks, lets not conflate gentrification and white flight.
I am an educated black gay man living in Ward 1. I see the racial divide daily in the District. Recently a white gay male written an bigoted article in a local gay newspaper, Washington Blade, on the death of Trayvon Martin. Many black gays and lesbians were outraged by this racist article.

Why does "gentrification" have to be such a dirty word to so many people. I proudly embrace being a "gentrifier". The alternative would be that those with more money would stay secluded in their wealthier neighborhoods, while those with less get secluded in theirs. It would create much more of a divide between the "haves" and the "have nots.

I think we should be bringing different cultures and classes closer together, not further away. It seems people both poor and rich don't like outsiders moving in who look and act differently then themselves.
Are we not all God's children? Some would like to see a race riot or war.
and the negative comments about the "Blonde woman pushing a baby stroller" is equally racist/classist as someone complaining about the "Black women carrying grocery bags" who moved into "their" neighborhood.
As mentioned in a previous post, Washington was mostly white until the 1950's, people move in and out as the need arises. That said, and proof of every major urban city, If DC becomes more white, it will become more black when white residents move back to the burbs becasue of noise congestion and more green space. Developers will not demolish coops for green space, no money in that. When you have 2.5 kids and a dog and an expanded waistline, you want burbs. It has happened before and will happen again. And good forbid their is a class/economic riot, the city will look just like 68 after the riots, because if memory serves correct pre riots, there were stores and supermarkets and bakeries, etc.
<i>And folks, lets not conflate gentrification and white flight.</i>

Gentrification has a lot more to do with "black flight" than "white flight". At least, if we define black flight to be
"moving out of the city" The story of "gentrification" is really the story of the explosive growth of the black middle-class, and equality in housing opportunity.

Great stuff, but I have one quibble:

"your generation of gentrifiers has become a force far stronger than any prior class of arriviste."

I realize this was meant on some level to be puffery, but do you have any basis for this? You cite to recent population growth but commit the state-vs-city statistical fallacy and only look back ten years? How can you say with certainty that this wave of neighborhood change is any more dramatic that countless waves that proceeded it? For instance, I'd be greatly surprised if the huge increase of government workers during and shortly after WWII didn't have a much more significan impact on the city than this wave of gentrification. It's a small point, but it does help to acknowledge that this has happened before. That's not to minimize it, but to look for parallels and try to learn from them.
Why does the media like to race bait? Here's another race baiting Washington City Paper article.

I'm lunchin' (circa 6th grade hallways) reading this!
I've actually had kind of a weird experience as a "gentrifier." Now, that probably has a lot to do with moving into a mainly working/middle-class neighborhood, rather than a poorer one. Sure, we're some of the few white people in the neighborhood, but economically, most of our neighbors are more similar to us than many other gentrifiers have probably experienced. Our little-ish dog isn't out of place, our well-kept yard/garden is the norm (in fact, several neighbors have made "suggestions" about how we could make our yard nicer), and drinking "craft" beers on the front stoop more often than not generates discussion of other good beers and who carries what (the scariest liquor store in the neighborhood carries a nice selection, other stores even better...GIANT has the worst beer selection in the neighborhood). Most of our neighbors are at no risk of being forced out of the neighborhood, even if property values and taxes rise, and the vulnerable ones are mostly senior citizens who have many tools at their disposal to help offset any changes to the neighborhood (DC does have some great protections for senior citizens regarding rent increases and property tax increases, and people in our neighborhood seem to know how to exploit them).

Neighbors have been nothing but nice to us since day 1. But more importantly, they seem more eager for the neighborhood to change than we are. They expect their homes to double in value in the next few years (that would not be out of the question if our neighborhood gets "discovered," given current RE values). The landlord/residents (we have a number of multi-family buildings in the neighborhood where the landlord lives in one unit and rents the rest) frequently ask me how to attract tenants "like me." I'm less bringing change to the neighborhood by simply living here and more by being a "young (white) people" consultant (about half of the "new" "more affluent" people in our neighborhood are not white, so I don't think it's so much race as age and economic status), as in "how do we get more people like you into the neighborhood?" I've written more Craigslist ads and met more prospective tenants ("and THIS will be your new neighbor!") and picked out more light fixtures and paint colors than I would care to recall over the last few years. At least they don't hate us, right?
I'm a PG county native who has spent half of their 29 years in urban areas, DC and beyond. While I am black and wish that more black natives considered DC as a viable residential option instead of a destination spot for club night and Lauriol Plaza, this transition is too be expected. If DC were a working class city (and boy do I wish it was), I'd let blacks off the hook for this one. DC could have a strong black middle class but it's fly to live in the burbs. The majority's thinking, not mine. I meet native Washingtonians who still rent in the city all the time. I'm having a hard time thinking of the last time I met a native Washingtonian who's in the same tax bracket as many of my peers who live out MD. I'm sure that's an age thing though. Nonetheless, I've noticed an influx of young blacks from wherever into Wards 7 and 8 over the past several years. Since I've worn out NW, I'ma head over to the other side of the river. Ethnic and racial enclaves are important to any city because it adds diversity to its flavor.

Now as for the newcomers (read: white yuppies/hipsters/etc): Commercially speaking, I'm not mad at your arrival. Because DC was never all that ethnically or racially diverse while I was growing up here, I like that I can find hummus and craft beer as easily as I can find 3 wings with mambo sauce.

I tweeted recently about how DC is going through some growing pains that it has never experienced. There's more inspiration than admiration prevalent in these streets so everyone new is going to want to make their new home more appealing to them. I don't know many new folks who know about old DC culture, or street culture even, and even care to know. The flavor of the city has changed drastically since I was even in my early 20s. Not one of my favorite flavors but it is what it is. Inspiration and admiration aside, collaboration between Old DC and New DC would make for a smoother transition.
This article disgusts me. With the severe lack of affordable housing and minorities being pushed out of the city; I found this article to be very insensitive.
Wow. A cluster of listicles on a hot-button topic. Slow news week?

@ City Paper, are you serious? Seeing that the City Paper is having financial difficulties, why would the editor waste money printing this weak azz shitz?

"and the negative comments about the "Blonde woman pushing a baby stroller" is equally racist/classist as someone complaining about the "Black women carrying grocery bags" who moved into "their" neighborhood."

Hey Matt C: Your statement is a common trope about racism from whites. What the hell is "equal racism"...the white woman has more power, privilege, less discrimination, and access to mobility in our racist society. Yes, anyone can be racist/classist, but it makes a huge difference which side of power and privilege you're on.

"Then, just like now, talk of Big-Picture Things, like public policy or the overall health and stability of neighborhoods, is too often reduced to chatter about blonde women, strollers, and Chinese takeout."

Why doesn't the City Paper do a cover story on the failures/successes/replicability of different affordable housing strategies? Like tax credit financed low income rental units, non-profit owned low income housing, government owned housing projects, city subsidies for low income homebuyers, etc? I'd love to read an article like this.
I'm just glad a lot of young white people now know that both segregation and the suburbs suck.

But I wish the bitching and moaning against gentrification was directed more at corporate America, and their attempts to bulldoze their way into cities and make them as generic as the suburbs. If I wanted a Starbucks and a Whole Foods, I'd move to f*ing Virginia.
"If I wanted a Starbucks and a Whole Foods, I'd move to f*ing Virginia."

Maybe you don't want those establishments, but many of your fellow residents do. Starbucks and Whole Foods tend to open their stores in neighborhoods where there is a good market for their products.

I imagine people east of the Anacostia would be thrilled to see a few more Starbucks and Whole Foods in their neighborhoods.
I am a black man, Potowmack. I shop at Whole Foods because I try to eat healthy. I don't drink coffee. However, I welcome a Starbucks and Whole Food into my Ward 4 neighborhood oppose to a bunch of Liquor Stores, unhealthy food establishments, and nail salons.

Gentrification has it's good and bad sides. One of the good things, it rids ghetto neighborhoods of savages that don't take pride in their neighorborhoods and help to destroy them. I don't want to live around uneducated savages destroying the neighborhood and living like animals.

4th Generation Native Washingtonian
This is kind of a touchy subject, but one of the causes of the ongoing demographic transformation of DC is the changing nature of work in DC. Years ago, the federal government was an even bigger presence in DC, and the agencies did a lot of hiring of people without college or even high school degrees to do low-level office work like typing and filing. A lot of those people then slowly, patiently worked their way up the ladder, using time-in-grade as a substitute for an education.

These days, the federal government has a smaller portion of the white-collar workforce, and a bachelor's degree is the bare minimum for even entry-level office work, inside or outside the federal government. White-collar work has never been more specialized nor more automated. So much stuff that used to require people to do it now can be accomplished by one person sitting at a desk clacking away at their keyboard.

What that has meant in practical terms is that so many of the black men and women who got on with the federal government when they were young are unable to get their kids in if their kids don't at least have a bachelor's degree. When I walk around my agency, I see a lot of black faces but not many of them belong to young people, and the young black people I do see are generally service staff rather than career professionals. The young people are mostly white and Asian.

I'm not really interested in pointing fingers, but thought it would be helpful to point all this out. I suspect that some of the gentrification is happening simply because median-household-income jobs in DC now require more skills and education than they used to, and the people who have those skills and that education are disproportionately non-black.
Washingtonian: You, sir, are a fool. "Why are Americans so bloody obsessed with race?" Could you be any more of an ignorant, interloping stereotype? Spare us your o'er-the-pond slang and if you don't like it here, leave.

AKA Soror is 100% correct. There ARE no non-privileged white people in this city. They may not be "rich" in the sense that they earn a lot of money, but their education and access to information and upward mobility places them squarely in the worldwide 1%.

If you do not understand that, you are a fool.

If you don't understand RACE IN AMERICA, you do not UNDERSTAND AMERICA. There is no "colorblind," there is no "let's just move on." If you ignore race, you ignore the FUNDAMENTAL issues in this country, at the center of which we are perched here in D.C.




Gentrification is a serious issue, not only in D.C., but in Philadelphia, Manhattan, Brooklyn, NY, Bronx, and Los Angeles. I've always stated many times, race does mattter and white racism exist. For those to say blacks are racist. Some blacks may be racist and that's because too many whites in this country have done us wrong and mistreated us. Look at the Capitals player Ward and whites in Boston calling him the N word. Most whites in this country feel, whites are superior and blacks are inferior. White and light skin Hispanics or Latinos like Cuban American William Levy on ABC's 'Dancing With The Stars' will always be accepted by whites and they can assimilate into white America. The same doesn't apply to blacks. No matter how much education or wealthy we obtain, in the minds of many whites, blacks are inferior. I've found white gay males in the District to be more racist and prejudice than heterosexaul whites. I read the article M. Matthews provided in a local gay D.C. newspaper and I read the article written by Kevin Naff, a gay racist white male, in reference to the shooting of Treyvon Martin. I was glad to see so many black gays and lesbians speak out against white gay male privilege.
Seriously SEKen, you've made the same post 9 times in your last 10 posts. You must have that shit saved in Notepad to paste, with a few addendums tacked on to preserve freshness. noodlez may be a hypocrite but I will always give him props for originality. I KNOW YOU'RE OLD BUT COME ON

"Some blacks may be racist"

Keith B., did I make your cracker ass mad. If so, goo! The truth hurts. For the record, I only posted on here once. You have no supernatural powers to see whom are making comments on any blog. Fuck you, loser.

Gentrification can't be entirely a bad thing if it wigs out embittered, bigoted losers like "noodlez."
I'm a white, upper-middle-class chick who commutes to the district for a low-wage job that I care deeply about. I was jazzed to see the cover of this week's WCP because, since I also care deeply about race and institutional racism (and all those other *isms), I wanted to learn if it was possible for me to move to DC without becoming "part of the problem." I don't want more black residents displaced. I don't want to be part of that process. I opened the paper looking for something real.

Instead I got... what you guys wrote. Nothing that seemed to take for granted the way race and class intertwine in this country. Nothing that focused on displacement. Nothing that seemed to understand that black and white people don't have equal amounts of power -- that grousing about "myopic little [white] twits" and being *displaced from your home* are completely different in terms of the hurt they effect. Nothing that questioned gentrification's value in and of itself. Just a POV that seemed to see gentrification as an amusing inevitability that "both sides" (as if they're equal) need to learn to accept.

Because your guide to "responsible" gentrifying wasn't grounded from that place, it made your guide... kinda useless. You're smart writers. I expect better.
As oboe alludes to above, the research suggests that actual displacement is pretty rare. What happens is that the mix of people moving in skews increasingly towards higher-income people. The amount of churn is about the same, it's just that the people moving in tend to be quite different from the people moving out.

In much of DC, where we've seen gentrification, residential buildings are replacing vacant lots or lower-density dwellings, homeowners are replacing renters, and younger people are replacing the older people who are cashing out. None of that strikes me as being worth wringing my hands about. In fact, most of it is very good. Generations have different ideas about how and where they want to live. Neighborhoods change. Cities change. That *is* inevitable.
Gentrification is class warfare, often with a racist element. Black property owners have historically been run roughshod over in this city. Many of them were forced out of their homes in Georgetown and Foggy Bottom. I view gentrification with suspicion because I understand that it is usually based on class warfare. That is the dilemma in gentrifying the Petworth, Shaw, U Street, NW, and H Street, NW. The underclass and the working poor are not going to stay out of these areas and the gentrification forces want them out. The new residents don’t want to mingle with those failed by the education system and a job market shrinking by the day. They see the underclass as a threatening reminder of an unpleasant economic reality in 21st Century America. The under- class will not become invisible and they will not go to hidden locations to expire quietly. I predict a race riot in the District of Columbia soon. Many will perish and this city will never be the same. This country is already on the tip of a race war. Treyvon Martin and George Zimmerman is an example. In the eyes of many George Zimmerman is white or he can pass for white because his skin complexion is no different from Greeks, Italian, and Middle Eastern Americans. Hispanic is a race and many Hispanics are white do to an European ancestry, not African or Indigenous.

Hispanic or Latino is not a race. Many Hispanics are black. Have you seen all those black baseball players from the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Panama, and Puerto Rico?
When blacks moved in to white neighborhoods, many whites left because they didn't want to be around black people and many left because they wanted a house with a yard etc. They called it white flight. When whites move into black neighborhoods because they want to be in close-in neighborhoods with character they call it gentrification. When Hispanics move into white and black neighborhoods they call it the American Dream. It can all get quite confusing, but the a-political point is that neighborhoods are fluid, some more than others. I'm not sure there's anything more to it than that, excluding the typical amount of human joy/misery that is part of our HUMAN condition.
Racial relations are by no means perfect, but we need to keep in mind the fact that as human beings, we have a tribal nature, so the present amount of movement across racial boundaries in my humble opinion, is nothing short of miraculous. Focusing on the positive is not being pollyannaish if one keeps the overall arc of human history in mind.
I wouldn't even go around throwing the gay accusations, nooDLez, we all know you're famous on WCP comments for your startlingly detailed gay fantasy stories about other commentators! Please, tell us in more detail what these "gay hipsters" do. In the mean time I'll be showing your fat ass wife the loving she's been missing this whole time in your sham marriage.

SEKen: Of course you only posted here once. Boy, you sure told me. Only that's the same rant you paste on EVERY story you comment on. Go re-read what you post on LL, your memory is failing you pops.
Gentrification is a pejorative guys. It is one of the most interesting word in the English language. It is almost like the word give legitimacy to a practice that should be viewed as legitimacy. "Let's make up a nice word to describe kicking out poor people (often of a different ethnic group) because we don't want to have to say process by which we kick out poor people of a different ethnic group everytime we want to refer to this process. It is a pejorative by definition guys.
Let's try a thought experiment. Estelle has lived in her rowhouse in Shaw for some 40 years. She and her husband bought it in the early '70s and raised their kids there. Now, Estelle is well into her 60s and widowed and wants to move into something smaller and without so many stairs and closer to all the friends and family who have moved to Maryland. The mortgage was paid off years ago, and she's counting on the proceeds from selling the house to afford a comfortable retirement. So she contacts a realtor and the house goes on the market.

Meanwhile, Jeff and Sarah are tired of their 1-hour commute from a distant suburb and are looking for something closer to work, and close to shopping and restaurants and all the stuff that a city has to offer. They really like Estelle's rowhouse -- even if it's dated-looking and not in the best neighborhood, it's got great bones and they're not afraid of a fixer-upper or the neighbohood's not-so-sterling reputation. They know someone who moved in a few blocks away, and someone else a couple of blocks in the other direction, and there's The Passenger, and Seasonal Pantry, and Whole Foods isn't too far away. It'll be an adventure!

This is gentrification at the micro level. Is Estelle wrong to sell her home? Should any home like this being sold by someone like this be bought by the city and used to house poor black people so as to ensure that Shaw doesn't change? Are Jeff and Sarah wrong to want to buy it? Should the neighbors be able to veto the sale if Jeff and Sarah are non-black or their income is too high? Should there be covenants in place to keep out the wrong kind of people? Should the neighbors send some kind of message -- like burning a cross in their treebox -- if Jeff and Sarah actually move in?

Just curious.
Whites are not evil for moving in, but when the city gives real estate developers license to decide the character and destiny of working class neighborhoods without any forethought for the existing communities, then gentrification is wrong. It's easy to dismiss concerns when you only see things through the prism of money and perceived reverse racism.
"There ARE no non-privileged white people in this city"

Folks we need to be more concerned about privilege and wealth divide within DC's black population. Forget about white folks, they don't run things in DC. It is easy for us to foster the conspiracy that they do, but we all know that Vince and Kwame aren't taking orders from whitey, and while whitey is on the Federal City Council he ain't running it. It is time for us to circle our wagons and deal with our own.
I'll give it about 3 hours (slow Monday) until one of our resident Angry Black Commentators calls Zippy an Uncle Tom or worse.

Welcome to WCP comments, Zippy. Don't try to make people think outside their box!
<i>Whites are not evil for moving in, but when the city gives real estate developers license to decide the character and destiny of working class neighborhoods without any forethought for the existing communities, then gentrification is wrong.</i>

It's a bit naive to think that "white real estate developers" are the ones directing the "character and destiny of working class neighborhoods". For example, by the time businesses started to cater to middle-class residents on H Street, the surrounding neighborhoods had become largely gentrified. By 2004 you couldn't touch a rowhouse a block off of H Street for under $500k.

The people moved in, then the hipster restaurants followed.
Also, to the Ward4 Resident who's predicting a race riot: don't hold your breath. Rioting was allowed to spiral out of control in the late 60s because the middle-class had largely already vacated the city--or if they hadn't already left physically, had checked out mentally.
oboe, you are so wrong. I predict a race war between black and white D.C. residents because tensions are high between the two groups. Many D.C blacks feel disrespected, discriminated, and invisible by the white priviliged new comers moving into our neighborhoods. Not only will there be a race war in D.C., race wars will take place in most major, middle, and small cities. Whites are sprewing the racial hatreds daily on blogs like the Washington Post, Washington Times, New York Times, New York Daily News, New York Post, Los Angeles Times, and most news publications. Institutionalized racism still exist in this country. According to last week's Washington Post, 100,000 new D.C. residents are white, educated, and wealthy. There are no poor white trash living in D.C. as in other cities. Blacks in D.C. fear, they are being pushed out due to a racist plan in place to rid the Nations Capital of black and poor people.
The problem with gentrification is that it is both class and primarily race based, and as Marion Barry pointed out, it not only displaces traditional communities, the drive to force them out shreds them. DC used to have Soul, now it is soul-less and becoming ever more so every year. Many whites who are part of gentrification are in a state of denial about what they are doing, while there are others who do not hide their intent and desire to force out the black residents. They come in and begin to make baseless and silly complaints against their black neighbors to the police, who respond more aggressively to their calls because they are white. America is no where near being "post-racial" or "post-racist," it is like white people claiming that Jim Crow is dead in order to give it a new look and a new lease on life, which is what gentrification actually is - the new Jim Crow in housing.

Oboe, your comments make you sound like a white racist who supports gentrification and the displacement of black Washingtonians.
oboe, I see you have made comments on every D.C. blog pertaining to gentrification. What's up with you and this subject?

Middle Class taxpayers, I'm not certain why the poor children in your neighborhood throw trash on the curb. I see people do this all the time and it stinks. Perhaps these children don't know the importance of community and that they too are part of that community and need to keep it clean. Perhaps they don't even feel apart of the community, after all, I don't know where you live but there are plenty of neighborhoods in DC where the police don't come when called, the fire department is slow to answer, the EMT are disorganized, and all of the good resources have been moved to upper northwest. If this is the case, perhaps the children that litter feel if others don't care about them and avoid coming to their neighborhood why should they bother? I suggest the next time you see the precious poor children throwing trash on the ground, just sit them down and have a chat. Teach them and let them know that you want them to be a part of the community and that they too are valuable regardless if their poor. :)
See " Gentrifried Chicken " by the Cornel West theory
For all the talk about newcomers, they must not vote or have resident status. The more the media talks them up, the less they seem to impact the polls. Either there's not as many as y'all say or they don't participate.
"oboe, I see you have made comments on every D.C. blog pertaining to gentrification. What's up with you and this subject?"

I'm fascinated by it. Aren't you? The fact that I live in the "gentrification zone" makes it even more compelling.
"Oboe, your comments make you sound like a white racist who supports gentrification and the displacement of black Washingtonians."

I'm a native DC resident who is happy to see middle-class residents moving back into DC. If we add--as Mayor Gray has proposed--another 250,000 residents, it'll be to the benefit of DC residents of every socioeconomic class. Because those 250,000 are going to be self-sufficient, upper middle-class taxpayers. And they'll pay for the generous social services that DC government provides to its low income citizens.

There are plenty of very poor and disenfranchised DC residents. And given the way the US treats its poor, they have reason to be angry. And, of course, they need a convenient (and local) target for that anger.

Partly that will be expressed in baseless charges of racism thrown at anyone who you disagree with. For example, I support gentrification, if by gentrification we mean a broadening of DC's socioeconomic mix. For example, Ward 8 has a poverty rate of 35% and an unemployment rate of 25+%. You seem to think that incredible concentration of poverty is a good thing. I'd argue that enclosing the vast majority of the region's most destitute black citizens into a tiny geographical area doesn't do them any favors.

It's been the de facto public policy since the late 19th century. Maybe it's time to try something different.
"For all the talk about newcomers, they must not vote or have resident status."

This is a really good point. "Newcomers" don't vote. In fact, young people in general don't vote. At least when compared to the voting rates among elderly "old timers". If you voted in the election last month, you'd notice that most of the folks at the polls were very, very old. Because old folks tend to vote in the greatest numbers.

But as those old folks age, they'll age out of the voting pool. And middle-class people tend to vote at higher rates than poor people. So I think we'll start to see "newcomers" begin to dominate the voter pool over the next 5-10 years.
To all you white gentrifiers: stop using terms like "urban pioneer" you didn't discover your community. To act like you did totally disregards those who already lived there. Maybe many of us didn't have access to credit to rehab our houses before you moved in so you assume we don't care about our community (redlining was alive and well before you moved on). Also, stop assuming your wants and needs are the community's(I don't want a dog park, another random trashy looking urban garden in the middle of grassy patch to name a couple.) if you move in to my neighborhood, join the community, instead of trying to own it.
@Tia Owens,

I'm not sure anyone has used the term "urban pioneer" here. I've seen it in popular media, but it's usually something imposed from outside, and often intended as a slam on "newcomers". And as far as what the community wants, things like dog parks and bike lanes *are* what the community wants. Otherwise there'd be no political will to create them.

Stop thinking *you* get to decide what the community wants (or even *who* the community is) just because you've lived here a bit longer.
Oboe aka Obie, who died and made you King, white boy? STFU!! Whites will always think they have a right to do whatever they want in this country and you are one of them. I am against gentrification and diversity. I prefer living around educated black professionals that look like me.
and I'm sure all the educated black professionals can't wait for your derelict ass to move in and ruin their property values too, Donnie
<i>Oboe aka Obie, who died and made you King, white boy? STFU!! </i>

You make an excellent point. And so eloquently. Also, your ability to perceive the melanin content of anonymous posters on internet message boards is uncanny.

Anyway, last I checked we had a representative democracy, and not a monarchy. As I said before, "as far as what the community wants, things like dog parks and bike lanes *are* what the community wants. Otherwise there'd be no political will to create them."

Don't like bike lanes and dog parks? Vote against them. Oh, and switch to decaf.

is "age out of the voting pool" a less morbid way of saying they'll die? there is no age limit on voting and many older people in this city remember a time when black americans got harassed (or killed) for exercising their right to vote. as such, i expect the older folks in our fair city to vote till their last day on earth. as they should.

as for not being able to find a house below 500k in 2004, you're way off with that. i lived a block off h in 2004 and you could have gotten a bunch of houses in the 250-300k range. maybe on the west side of h, things were different.

if it were about appealing to a rich demographic, barracks row would have been a retail oasis years ago, loads of wealthy households near there. it's more complex than that.

as far as gentrification goes, adding to the tax base isn't an automatic plus for everyone in the working class, a lot of people have too much income to qualify for most social services in this town. for those people, skyrocketing rents are a backbreaker. rent control helps, but increasingly landlords can't wait to get rid of tenants by neglect or buyouts or any other means so they can flip their properties.

wish we had local media ready to discuss this issue in a nuanced fashion...

"is 'age out of the voting pool' a less morbid way of saying they'll die?"

Yes, that's exactly what it means. As will we all.

"i expect the older folks in our fair city to vote till their last day on earth. as they should."

Yep. But not forever.
I have read the article and the slew of comments that followed... and honestly I couldn't be more disgusted. In the 21st century, racial tensions are still as high as ever. Allow me to throw in my two cents:

I am a broke, independent white girl enamored with DC (I am not a Native Washingtonian, but I was born here along with everyone in my family, and my family all has roots here (my grandparents grew up in the District).

And by "broke", I mean just that. I work two jobs making minimum wage. I do not have a college degree. As much as I want to live in the city, I can never afford to live in NW with my more affluent friends, even just renting a room with them. So, I suppose my options are to stay in PG County (which I hate), or move to an area of DC where I will be typecast as "privileged" and "wealthy" when all the while I can barely afford to eat?

No. I guess I will just be the first "white trash" person to move to DC. Just goes to show how close-minded and ignorant people can be.
I wish the obvious would be stated in every discussion about gentrification. Its a shame we have been brainwashed to believe that the only way neighborhoods can thrive is if you move the colored folk out.

THE PROBLEM IS INSTITUTIONALIZED racism in every aspect of american culture. Nothing economically constructive gets supported in a neighborhood until white folks move in. A billion dollar condo, street repair, street cars, bike lanes, whole foods markets, residential parking..... NOTHING. The government and corporate america just does not give a crap about minorities living in cities. Hell when I grew up cars would honk at black kids walking too slowly across cross walks. Have you seen the entitled white gentrified crossswalker who doesn't even stop at the corner to check traffic. lol. Keep your eyes on Detroit.

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