Just One Mile: Gentrification in Congress Heights, DC

Did We Start This?

In an ideal world, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. In that case, Ward 8, and specifically Congress Heights, looking at these statistics, has been squeaking for years now. What seems more accurate is that the wheel that looks the most promising gets the grease… and air… and the shiny new rims. I hadn’t considered that by simply being here, with a higher income and an intact family unit, that we, and others like us, were making Congress Heights attractive – changing the numbers – drawing attention to the potential for exploitation. Maybe our presence wasn’t as helpful as I thought.

I remember being at my God sister’s home near Baltimore for her housewarming. She had just purchased a beautiful new home. When we were growing up, her parents lived in a stunning home in Potomac – they were one of the few black families, that weren’t celebrities, living out there at the time. All of the guests were middle to upper middle class black people. Her co-worker pulled up and I thought she looked familiar, but I didn’t have a conversation with her. We left around the same time. We also pulled up to our homes at the same time – her in her new Acura, us in our Suburban. Apparently, she had just purchased the house next door to us, and had moved in with her young son. She had gotten it for a steal when white guy who was renting it out to the black family was foreclosed on. He was waiting for housing prices to go up, and had taken out a second mortgage in anticipation of that rise – and lost the game.