Housing Complex

Omegas Kick in $5K for Carter G. Woodson Home, Millions Still Needed

A big check. (Lydia DePillis)

You know all those guys walking around in purple hats and T-shirts for the past few days? Those were the Omegas—members of the Howard University-based Omega Psi Phi fraternity, which was having its centennial bash in the city this weekend. On Saturday morning, their agenda included a rally near the former residence of Carter G. Woodson, the man known as the "father of black history"—and, according to the fraternity's website, an Omega himself.

The house, where Woodson lived from 1922 until 1950, then became the home of the Association for the Study of African-American Life and History until the early 1970s, after which it stood vacant and deteriorating. The National Park Service bought the property and the two addresses directly north in 2005 and stabilized it before embarking on the long process of actually turning it into something usable.

That, however, will require several million dollars. Yesterday, the third district representative to the Omega Psi Phi Supreme Council (very hierarchical, these brothers) proudly presented a $5,000 check towards the building's rehabilitation. With power players like Harry Thomas Jr. defender Fred Cooke Jr. looking on, many words were said about the need for Congress to put a line item in the budget to take care of the rest—which, in light of the current goings on in Congress, seemed like a tragically doomed request.

Could the District step in with that kind of money? Perhaps, at some point. It might be easier for the city to find funding for such projects if the other big vacant property owner on the block, Shiloh Baptist Church, paid the property taxes they still owe on the five empty and boarded up buildings that they still own directly south of the Carter G. Woodson home—or just sold them. Could the Omegas get their influential network to work on that?

  • Jes’ sayin’

    I'm not sure even God himself could get the Shiloh slumlords to step up and do the right thing for the neighborhood.

    It was good seeing the Omegas in town, though.

  • hillman

    Howard and Shiloh have both been pretty much the definition of bad neighborhood citizens in terms of maintaining their properties. Yet both receive tax breaks and special dispensations from the DC government.

    Or to put it another way, us taxpayers are subsidizing these selfish institutions that seem to have no problem contributing to blight and decay in the neighborhood.

  • StrangeFruit

    Hillman, how is Howard U a bad neighbor? What blight and decay has Howard contributed to the community?

    The only blight I'm aware of is caused by the DC gov't -- boarded up gov't housing.

  • TruthConveyor

    Howard has nothing to do with the Carter G. Woodson House.

  • TruthConveyor

    Omega Psi Phi is not Howard-based. The organization was founded by three students and a faculty member at Howard.

  • er

    strangefruit,
    the reputation that howard has developed as a bad neighbor has to do with years and years of neglected property which caused huge problems for Le Droit Park as they became havens for prostitution and drugs. these neglected properties aided dramatically in the decay of le droit park.
    thankfully, this is no longer the case, but the reputation endures.
    as for your quote "The only blight I'm aware of is caused by the DC gov't -- boarded up gov't housing."
    i think you should look into it more fully if you care about the issue.

  • er

    Many thanks to Omega Psi Phi for their contribution and to providing more light and the cause for more press concerning one of the great Americans Carter Woodson!

  • StrangeFruit

    @ er, this article doesn't mention the past, but the present and Howard U isn't, in the present, a bad neighbor.

    Hillman stated, "taxpayers are subsidizing these selfish institutions that seem to have no problem contributing to blight and decay in the neighborhood."

    And I replied where is the blight and decay that Howard U is- present tense--contributing in the neighborhood?

    As a resident and a native Washingtonian, I'm fully aware of Howard U's past transgression in LeDroit Park and how the residents had to designate LeDroit Park as a historic neighborhood to prevent Howard U from demolishing the beautiful grand dames that still line the streets.

    I wish the residents had also saved the Crape Mrytles my grandmother told me were just as beautiful as the homes.

  • W

    My friend just bought a house in LeDroit previously owned by a HU professor. She owned 9 homes in LeDroit, rented all but one. When my friend bought it in 2010, the home was in the worst type of slum condition. In another city, they would've condemned it. After a significant investment, its glory is shining through again.

    It's just an anecdote, but unfortunately, a tenured professor's professional behavior is inextricably linked to the university where they teach. Its great to see the HU community shining once again.

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