Census-block Analysis of Racial Demographics for Hoffman Developments


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WASHINGTON, DC (March 7, 2021) Southwest Voice conducted a Census block analysis of demographic changes for 34 Hoffman and Associates developments between 2000-2016. We relied on their website for address data and year of opening. The number and percentage of Blacks and Whites for each block were based on Census data. We used Policy Map to conduct analysis.1 We split the data into two periods (2000-2009 and 2010-2019) because Census blocks generally undergo a change in size and shape across decennial Census. The columns are intended to show a potential estimate of the development impact. However, the direct relationship between neighborhood demographic changes and a specific Hoffman and Associates development cannot be fully accounted for without knowing all new residential construction in that Census block.

This study seeks to understand overall neighborhood change. Seventeen developments occurred in a Census block containing at least one other Hoffman and Associates development. The findings raise questions whether Hoffman and Associates developments affect a causal pathway that directly or indirectly leads to Black displacement and gentrification. Concentrated housing construction in a series of neighborhood blocks may be a catalyst. Our conclusions also raise concern about compliance with the federal Fair Housing Act and the DC Human Rights Act given the reach of the mega-developer in the District. Many Black residents in SW objected to the use of exclusive White groups on Wharf storefront windows. This signage could be used to demonstrate “intent” for a fair housing claim.

Two Census blocks in Southwest experienced three Hoffman and Associates developments (525 Water, the Wharf, and Vio) according to their website (Table 1). All opened around the same time between 2016-2017. The Vio is considered part of the Wharf in all practicality. The Census block containing Vio and the Wharf saw a percentage decrease in the Black population from 35% - 25% and an 8.7% increase in population from 2010-2019 – from 530 to 576. The Wharf containing all condominiums and apartments amounted to 761 units for Phase 1. The White population increased 107% - from 672 to 1394. The Wharf asked Council to lower its commitment for deep affordable housing, which it did so in 2010. Blacks stood to benefit disproportionately from that initial affordable housing. This Census block also contains large residential properties that opened during the study period (2010-2019)(Figure 1). For example, the Eliot is a 363 all market unit development on former public land that opened in 2017. Modern on M opened in 2018 with 276 market units and 11 affordable units.

Three developments that opened between 2010-2012 saw a decline of 591 Black people across the three Census tracts from 2010 and 2010-2014 while the White population remained stable or increased for an overall increase of 906 (Table 2). The 13 Census blocks containing Hoffman and Associates developments that opened in the District in the early 2000s (2000-2004) saw an overall Black population decline (-1,706) from 2000 to 2005-2009 (Table 3). Whereas the White population increased by 3,197 across the blocks. Seven blocks containing nine developments that opened between 2005-2008 experienced an overall decrease (-1069) in Blacks while Whites increased by 2,882 (Table 3).