The Tragedy of H.R. Crawford Is the City’s Tragedy Too
In response to his paper's exhaustive auditing of H.R. Crawford's real-estate development, Post columnist Marc Fisher does a perfect job of describing what exactly is at issue with the famous developer. It's not the government money he's taken. It's the false hope he's given to poor residents whose property he wants to sell out from under them.
"Crawford's business operations are a jumble of contradictions. He sets out to build affordable housing for Washingtonians who've never owned anything in their lives, yet his grand plans often include pushing families out of homes they've had for decades. He promises poor people he will make homeowners of them, yet far too many of the units he's built end up in the hands of people who have political, personal or financial connections to him."
Crawford has his good and bad side. We chronicled Crawford's amazing b.s. to Kelsey Gardens residents. We also touted his redevelopment East of the River. But he's getting hosed now for all those false promises to residents.
Let me just say it: It is not shocking that residents either don't come back to their redeveloped apartments or are simply not allowed. Poor residents who want to return to their newly gentrified digs suddenly have had to contend with all kinds of new barriers: 1) A suddenly rigorous credit check; 2) the demand that they enroll in some budgeting class or computer class; 3) they are not informed that the building is ready for them to return. And who is responsible for most of these false promises across the city?
When it comes to making false promises to poor residents no one has done a better job in the past than the D.C. Housing Authority. Crawford is a nothing compared to the city government's representatives. Arthur Capper is a good example.
Arthur Capper is just one of the city's land grabs. It always starts the same with a city official coming to the housing project's rec center and making a pitch: "What would you like to see in your new community?"
The official gets community input. The residents get excited. Then they get booted. Only a handful ever make it back.
Five years ago, I called DCHA and asked them for a list of all its residents who've moved to make way for development. The agency threw up all kinds of roadblocks. But one thing they admitted, they didn't keep track of those displaced residents.
These are the same residents they've made all kinds of promises too. And they simply lost them.