On Thursday January 31st, the GW Program Board showed a screening of “Chocolate City,” a documentary on community resistance to gentrification in DC. Following the screening, students were able to discuss the documentary with one of the directors, Ellie Wallton. The film attracted a decent amount of students, encouraging a much needed dialog between GW students and DC residents on local politics.
As part of the Hope VI community revitalization project, the DC housing authority decided to tear down low income housing in the Aurthur Cappers and Carollsburg areas of DC. They promised to replace the torn down housing with an equal amount of affordable housing.
The problem? To qualify for housing assistance in DC, a person’s family income has to be below 60% of the median area income. The median income in the DC area is $90,000.
This means that anyone who has a yearly income below $54,000 qualifies for housing assistance. The yearly income of those displaced by the project was around $8000. In terms of receiving public housing, there is no distinction between the poor and the lower middle class.
The goal of affordable housing nowadays is to let teachers, firefighters, and other middle income individuals live in the communities where they work. This is a laudable goal, but should not be accomplished at the expense of the poor.
Chocolate City shows how one community fought to have their voices heard on the issue – to no avail.
GW is full of students who want to want to enter politics to change the world for the better. Perhaps instead of starting at the national level, they can look around DC to see how policies affect communities, particularly since many GW students end up staying in DC and become members of the community.