Just One Mile: Gentrification in Congress Heights, DC

And So It Begins

One of the first new projects to be completed on Mississippi was the ARC. It opened the year after we moved in, and it had programs at reduced rates for Ward 8 residents. The neighborhood children finally had access to top notch programs and facilities from The Washington Ballet and Levine School of Music. As soon as my daughter was old enough, I signed her up for violin, and eventually ballet.

We had been driving to Bowie, MD, then to Columbia Heights for ballet (gentrification had already reached Columbia Heights by then). Her violin teacher splits her time between teaching at the main NW campus just behind Howard’s Law School and the SE campus. Her classes used to be all black. The classes, even for children not from Ward 8, are offered at a reduced rate, but with the same quality as the classes offered in northwest, just around the corner from the law school. Eventually, the classes began to look different.

Just this past week, I took my daughter to class, and the class of tiny toddlers that ran by us was all white, save 2. Her violin recital showed much of the same changes.

No one has moved in just yet, but the resources that were supposed to be reserved for the poorest of the poor children in Ward 8, are becoming increasingly unavailable, and filled with children coming from other areas where the services were already available – just more expensive.