An in-depth discussion about housing trends in D.C. was hosted by Elevation DC Magazine, Oct. 21.
The conversation was an effort to explore the line between preserving affordable housing for long-time District residents and making way for newcomers to enjoy living in the city as well, said David Bowers, VP and market leader at Mid-Atlantic and representative from Enterprise Community Partners, who sponsored the event.
The panel discussion, “Gentrification, Revitalization or Renaissance,” was moderated by Rebecca Sheir, host of WAMU’s Metro Connection and took place at Shiloh Baptist Church in the Shaw neighborhood in Northwest.
The “G word” or gentrification can be a touchy subject, according to panelist Dr. Bernard Demczuk, George Washington University’s assistant vice president for D.C. government relations, African American history teacher at School Without Walls and Ben’s Chili Bowl historian. He said he prefers not to use the term at all.
He argued that word’s associated with the displacement of low-income residents by more upwardly mobile individuals is inaccurate. Instead, the cause is a reflection of the third great wave of American cities.
“It has to do with the natural flow of economics and demographic shifts,” he said. “And ain’t nothing going to stop it.”
Long-time District residents and newcomers attended the discussion. Conversely, Dominic Mouldon, representing non-profit ONE DC, views gentrification as an injustice against people of African descent. “D.C. claims to be a human rights city,” he said. “The crime [of gentrification] is the erasing of civil and human rights for D.C. citizens — the erasing of history, culture and art of long time D.C. residents.”