Tuesday, February 08, 2011

a neighbor responds: "I am saddened by our community's rejection of the LAYC/YB proposal"

See this message from a resident of S Street NW:

Dear Neighbors,

I am deeply saddened by our community`s rejection of the LAYC/YouthBuild proposal for Cook School and can no longer remain quiet.

I moved to this neighborhood 5 years ago because of the diversity and the location. I stayed and love living here because of our warm and welcoming neighbors. I feel at home here in a way I never experienced before. I am part of this community and honored to be so.

I fear that the very core of what I love about this neighborhood is in jeopardy. I love that this is a neighborhood where people can feel welcomed and at home regardless of race or class. That people are able to be themselves here and enjoy living beside people that are different from them. That we all are neighbors and that we treat each other with respect.

For me this welcome extends to our neighbors that are only here during the day. The people who come here to eat meals at S.O.M.E. and have no other place to call home are also my neighbors. These folks need a welcoming place to call home even more than I did. I feel that the homeless are often targets of attack especially when talking about crime reduction and ``cleaning-up`` the neighborhood. These conversations are important, but I hope they can happen in a context of respect. We cannot improve this neighborhood on the backs of the most vulnerable. It`s not just their dignity that is at stake, it`s our identity as a welcoming, diverse community.

Similarly, I feel that our response to LAYC/YouthBuild proposal for Cook School was narrow minded and exclusive. We had the opportunity to welcome families and youth who need a home and we turned our backs on them. I love this neighborhood because of how welcoming we are, but these recent events make me wonder who we welcome. Do I only think we`re a welcoming neighborhood because I am privileged?

I hope to work with you all in fostering the diversity and generosity that makes our neighborhood so great.

9 comments:

  1. Unfortunately, it didn't have to end this way. The community was accepting of part of the proposal. Arguable, the part that would have affected the most lives in a positive way.

    The individuals that testified at the city council hearing, and those that have made their voices heard online represent young and old, new transplants and life-long residents, white and black. We simply asked for one thing, that the communities wishes and desires not be ignored again. The city, YBPCS, and LAYC had well over a year since the community registered first voiced its opposition.

    Yet, they forged on assuming that token changes would placate the community and that we just needed to be 'educated'. You ask that we treat each other with respect, what are we to do when an organization and the city does not treat us with respect?

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  2. It's telling that this had to be posted on the Bloomingdale blog as opposed to the BACA blog.

    S Street did not have the same interest in this matter as residents of N, O, or P streets. If the Section 8 were to be situated on S street, I could take this person's plea seriously. It's all too easy to tell your neighbors to be more generous. How many homeless people wander up to S Street? I ask the writer, how many time have you gone into your back yard to find fecal matter or used condoms? Is it on a weekly basis, a daily basis? Do inform us.

    You did not move here because of SOME or SOME's generosity. No way. You moved to Bloomingdale because of some other thing (affordability, housing stock, friendly neighbors, the "up and coming" factor), so don't put forward the unbelievable argument that a perceived Section 8 welcome wagon was what attracted you to the neighborhood. That's a big fat lie.

    If you're privileged enough to have chosen Bloomingdale despite it's flaws, you have no right to tell others -- who didn't have that privilege -- how they should feel about even more Section 8 when our cup already overflows with it. You have no right to tell the long term (and newer) residents, who are sick of this neighborhood (Truxton Circle, not Bloomingdale) being a social service dumping ground.

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  3. I agree totally with tyramanfan. I live on P St and love the racial and economic diversity of Truxton Circle. But as Bloomingdale gets more yoga studios, brick oven pizza restaurants, coffee shops, Zipcar locations, and bike rental stations we get more Section 8 housing.

    It's tiresome to have to walk to Shaw, Bloomingdale, and Mount Vernon Square for not only dining and entertainment but basic resources.

    Oh, the luxury of being judgmental

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  4. I have been renting in Bloomingdale for about 3 years. I do not live that close to SOME, however I volunteer with organizations that help the Homeless in D.C. I agree, there probably needs to be some policy changes, that can be easily implemented (such as liquor stores selling to people who are drunk or high & selling single cans, and removing the cluster of liquor stores in one area) however, the stigma that Section 8 recipients receive is unfair and biased. Just because someone receives Section 8 housing, does not mean that, that person is an alcoholic, abusive, violent, or an offender of insert what you will here. To move all people who receive government subsidies to outlying areas, or to cluster them in one place is not the best idea. It has been proven that people who are recipients of government assistance, do much better in economically mixed and diverse neighborhoods. Furthermore, the insinuation that the crimes that take place in Bloomingdale are a direct result of the homeless & section 8 recipients is a broad, biased and ignorant judgment.

    We live in a city, and crime happens in cities and in areas of cities, i.e. Georgetown, just as well as Columbia Heights, Capital Hill & yes Bloomingdale.

    Rather than label a whole group of people and punish law-abiding citizens, more needs to be done to circumvent crime. More streetlights & cameras and more police presence, and using common sense and not walking alone on dark streets late at night. That alone will help crime rates disipate.

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  5. I agree and yes, you are correct about the need to weave Section 8 housing throughout the Washington DC community. It is clear that this is presently not the case in Truxton Circle. The overabundant concentration of social services in this small radius is not working and the addition of new social services does not create better opportunities for the community’s residents or the new residents who these services would support.

    I grew up in Columbia, MD--a familiar leader in the integration of social classes in the country--and never would they centrally locate so many services and government subsidized housing in a disproportionately high crime, high drug infested area and expose an already marginalized population of new lower income residents to these exact societal challenges that often influence them to not succeed and break the cycle of poverty.

    I think it is unfair to continue to force social programs in areas on the brink of redevelopment simply because the cost to purchase/rent property is lesser than other already developed neighborhoods far less influential in city government. If you would like to see more social programs in the district, there should be a greater plan to integrate them throughout our grid from Georgetown to Capitol Hill.

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  6. I agree 100% with folks who question the fairness of putting additional high-risk accommodations in this neighborhood. While folks in upper northwest, those whose property values and existing city services are far superior, continue to pay the same taxes we pay, this neighborhood is expected to absorb more than its share of accommodating those who depend on subsidies provided by the government. So, not only do we pay in taxes and diminished services, we also suffer from higher crime and the urine and human feces mentioned by tyramanfan. There are many contributing factors and this development project is not, in and of itself, a bad thing. But, the amount of human fecal matter near here far exceeds that in upper northwest. It's about time the upper northwest neighborhoods absorb some of the subsidized housing.

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  7. Why would social service providers and subsidized housing landlords purchase/rent out housing in the most expensive areas of the city? The Section 8 rent is fixed by neighborhood and doesn't really keep up with the market rent. Why would a landlord take less from a Section 8 tenant in upper NW? Why would a social service program buy a building for hundreds of thousands more in a high income area when they will get the same funding if they locate here in ward 5 for cheaper? The problem with your rationale is that you are ignoring the fact that people want a profit.

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  8. Elizabeth, you are correct that it is all about money. Of course, the current government subsidy programs are designed to ensure that poor neighborhoods are located a sufficient distance from the limousine liberals in Chevy Chase. Since we all pay the same in taxes, I think it's OK to resist additional subsidized housing in our neighborhood where we are already shouldering more than our share of the burden. Let the government find a way to build housing in neighborhoods that could benefit from some diversity.

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  9. The alternative in lieu of a better solution for the time being is to limit the density of social services from here on out. In other words, you're not going to win the PR battle to get a SOME-like entity in Chevy Chase today, so for the time being let's ensure that further development in the "eligible for social services", i.e., non-3 wards is reasonable in terms of not congregating services in a way that decreases their effectiveness.

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