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WASHINGTON — Hundreds of predominantly black families in Washington, D.
C., are preparing to be forced from their homes to make way for massive redevelopment projects in the nation’s capital city.
The idea is that impoverished people need to be spread around, rather than concentrated. Gans, author of “The War Against the Poor,” argues that the “concentration [of poverty] merely makes poverty more visible than spread-out poverty, calls attention to concentration, and thereby diverts attention from policies that would reduce or end poverty.” His ideas are laid out in a 2010 policy paper he wrote entitled “Concentrated Poverty: A Critical Analysis.” Gans argues that this idea reemerged in academic literature in the 1990s in order to justify the HOPE VI program, the aim of which was to tear down public housing projects and transfer public property into the hands of private developers.
There is no empirical evidence to support the concentrated poverty idea, he contends, and neighborhoods, in and of themselves, should not generate negative effects on a community.
In the case of Barry Farm, which just passed a zoning approval to be demolished, plans for its destruction were put into writing by D. Phyllissa Bilal is a resident in the neighborhood and co-founder of the Barry Farm Study Circle, a community organization that organizes public housing residents to protect their human rights and challenge systemic oppression.
She also would like to see an entrepreneur-training program set up in the neighborhood.
The plan calls for “one for one replacement of subsidized housing units,” along with affordable housing and market-rate homes both for sale and rental.
There will also be new retail spaces, public services, open space, parks and roads. government claims, “The goal of the Barry Farm redevelopment plan is to improve the residents’ quality of life by addressing both the physical architecture and human capital of the community.” A 2005 report authored by Mayor Williams, “Homes for an Inclusive City: A Comprehensive Housing Strategy for Washington, D.
Mint Press News visited the neighborhood and saw some of the fruits of this initiative, including the Barry Farm Recreational Center, which features a gym, game room, computer lab and other facilities. Turé, who has done empirical studies on the situation, told Mint Press, “The rate [of return] in D. is something in the area of 8 percent.” He referenced as an example Valley Green, a housing project located in Southeast, which had 300 households.
The new amenities are being built as part of a program called the New Communities Initiative (NCI), which was established in 2005 by former D. The residents were forced to move to make way for a redevelopment project. The program was created to deal with “severely distressed” housing units, similar to those in Barry Farm.
Bilal, who does not oppose redevelopment as long as it truly incorporates residents into the process, told Mint Press she would also like to see a cooperative grocery store, or co-op, established in the neighborhood.