Advocates to City: Buy SW Properties for Racial & Economic Equity
Updated: May 16
Ward 3 Housing Justice | Wardman Hotel Strategy Team
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 31, 2022
Contact: Gail Sonnemann, 202-286-0845, firstname.lastname@example.org
Join the Rally for 4th & M Streets SW
Friday, June 3, 5:00 – 7:00 PM
Meet @The Lots at 4th and M SW
Sign the petition to make 4th & M public land again.
Housing and economic justice activists in Southwest DC, organized by SW DC Action, are calling for the city to acquire the lots at 4th & M SW (375 and 425 M Street SW) in order to be redeveloped as a model for equitable housing development in SW. Traditionally the city’s redevelopment strategy in SW has favored wealthy investors and those seeking luxury lifestyles. This approach has resulted in displacement and few opportunities for economic advancement for the area’s long-term Black residents.
These highly desirable sites have sat undeveloped for over 20 years; in spite of this, enterprising neighbors transformed the spaces into a temporary central gathering place of opportunity and equity for local businesses and artists, many of them Black and Brown. We call on the city to make the investments required to make these places a permanent model of equity and opportunity in SW.
“These spaces have offered the community an opportunity to gather freely and support local, predominantly Black and Brown, businesses and artists. Collective ownership of the land would provide an opportunity for the space to be redesigned for their permanent placement, as well as the possibility of permanently affordable housing,” noted Coy McKinney, member of SW DC Action. ”We ask that the city take action to acquire the parcels at 4th & M SW and transfer them to a locally controlled entity anchored by a community land trust (CLT). From there community and other partners would begin the process of redesigning and developing the site as a model of equity and opportunity in SW, especially for its long neglected Black social and business communities.”
Advocates from across the city see the parallels between the efforts to save this site and those elsewhere, especially at the Wardman Hotel in Woodley Park. “The mounting support for city acquisition of the Wardman site in the interests of the housing needs of the city, stands in stark contrast with the Mayor’s obstruction. Demands for housing equity are being echoed in neighborhoods around the city,” said Wardman Hotel Strategy Team member Nick DelleDonne.
Ward 3 Housing Justice (W3HJ), a group of mostly Ward 3 residents organizing for truly affordable housing in Ward 3, sees the missed opportunity at the Wardman as a lesson to be learned. “We could have had hundreds of units of affordable housing and many important community amenities right on top of a Metro stop in the heart of Ward 3, but instead, we could end up with luxury housing with a pittance of Inclusionary Zoning (IZ) units. We are hopeful that the city has learned that it cannot hesitate when prime parcels become available. The time is now to move on 4th and M SW and on similar sites in Friendship Heights,” said Margaret Dwyer, Friendship Heights resident and convenor of W3HJ. “Either we have a vision and a commitment to affordable housing or we don’t.”
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