DC's Racial Equity Plan Seeks Slow Pace of Change, Overlooks Deep Social Inequity

ga gaThe District recently released its proposed Racial Equity Action Plan to the public. Open for public comment until January 2, the 44-page document can appear to reassure residents that the District is preparing for a course-correction. Except it is not. Positioning its challenge of "undoing hundreds of years of discrimination" is disingenuous and deflecting blame. Leveling the playing field has been within the District's locus of control since Home Rule, even more so after the end of the Control Board when its coffers swelled. The District's tax revenue per capita from 2002-2019 increased by $6,500 - a rate of growth more than any US state. Yet, Southwest Voice's own research has shown that one-third of neighborhoods in Washington, DC saw a decline in Black median household income from 2010-2019 when the economy went from recession to expansion. Black median household income in DC of $42,000 is less than a third of the whites' at $134,000 - part of a national trend revealing no progress in reducing racial income and wealth inequalities between blacks and whites over the past 70 years. Black-white life expectancy gap by gender is 12 and 17 years, respectively for women and men, even greater in low-income neighborhoods like Anacostia. Despite consistent literature on vast racial gaps in life expectancy and health outcomes, the District has no coherent public policy approach. The plan fails to respond to the people's mandate for racial reform and anticipates no change in the systems of power that perpetuate modern-day structural oppression and racism

ANC6D Discriminating Against Seniors, Low-Income, Racial Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities

The Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC6D) for Southwest does not allow any member of the public to testify live at ANC6D meetings unless they provide a written testimony and topic for discussion at least 48 hours in advance. This policy, which has been in place since the mayor declared a Covid-19-related public health emergency, is discriminatory against seniors, low-income residents, racial minorities, and persons with disabilities. "They are violating the American Disabilities Act," said Patricia Bishop, President of Greenleaf Midrise and a senior with disabilities. It is this paper's position that the ANC6D needs re-training and a change in policy.

SW DC Residents Lead New Public Health Movement

Southwest DC residents recently announced the publication of their white paper, "Public Health Liberation – An Emerging Transdiscipline to Elucidate and Transform the Public Health Economy". ANC6D Commissioner Rhonda Hamilton, Greenleaf Midrise President Patricia Bishop, Greenleaf Gardens President Dena Walker, and Southwest Voice Editor-in-Chief Chris Williams developed a sweeping 21-page radical reconceptualization of public health, along with an international group of diverse authors from the US, Canada, and Uganda.

How Ethical and Transparent is the Community Land Trust Discussion in SW?

"Last Friday, June 3rd, SW Action held a rally at 4th & M Streets SW to advocate for the parcels, located at 425 and 375 M Street, to be purchased by the DC government and transferred to the Douglass Community Land Trust. "

This is the opening line to a press release from SW Action in June of this year announcing that it had held a rally urging the District to not only buy privately owned land at 4th and M St SW, but also to subsequently transfer ownership to another private entity — the Douglass Community Land Trust. The audacity of the request struck this paper as unethical and highly questionable, as we will discuss.

Discriminatory Practice & Community Center: Request to ANC for Denial of Contract to Operate

The Southwest Voice Editorial Board unanimously adopted a resolution respectfully requesting that the Advisory Neighborhood Commission ANC6D deny authorization to the Board of Southwest DC Community Center (SWDCC) to operate the proposed community center at 4th and M St SW. The SWDCC Board is not representative of Southwest racially or by income. We are dissatisfied with the composition of the Board and its lack of community outreach and tabling in our communities containing low-income households and Black residents.

DC Elections Raise Questions

Southwest Voice recently called for the District of Columbia to generate a semi-annual report on voter turnout rates by race. That article was positively received and widely circulated. In a follow-up, this paper seeks to raise concerns about additional issues concerning the integrity of elections in the District. We call upon the District to immediately study these issues and satisfactorily address these concerns in the current legislative session.

SW Voice Calls Upon Attorney General to Investigate Hoffman

Editor calls upon Attorney General to immediately initiate an investigation into Hoffman and Associates based on OAG’s legal authority under protecting the public interest and to enforce the disparate impact rule codified under the Department of Housing and Urban Development discrimination housing practices and intercede now to prevent Hoffman from further construction activity and building occupancy in Southwest to prevent further harm to Southwest residents, especially its Black population.

SW Voice Endorses Candidates for 2022 Election Season

Issue: SW Voice Endorsements: Robert White (DC Mayor) | Phil Mendelson (Council Chairman), Lisa Gore (at-Large), Bruce Spiva (Attorney General); Opposing Candidacy: Charles Allen (Ward 6) | The District Must Protect Black Women and Families Against Structural Violence | DC Systematically Centralizing Patient Data | Poetic Voice Corner | Quiet Place

DCHA's Structural Violence Against Black Women

Southwest Voice is calling for an end to structural violence against Black women leaders and families in public housing. DC Housing Authority's continuing policies of Black displacement and repeated harm are forms of structural racism. We urgently call on DC Council to fund legal defense funds for resident councils undergoing redevelopment. Read on for more discussion and our call to action to the Black middle class and advocacy communities to defend Black women leadership and support their fierce commitment to community.

April 2022 Issue

Issue: Remembering the Pearl Escape of 1848 | Titanic 110th Anniversary | DC Must Address Structural Racism | Local Church Sponsors Scholarship Program | Poetic Voice Corner | Quiet Place

Feature Story: The Pearl Escape of 1848 - April 15th marks the 174th anniversary of the Pearl Escape - the largest known escape attempt by enslaved people in American history. It occurred at the Southwest waterfront in 1848. Until recently, the Pearl Escape had been mostly a footnote in history, except among local historians and cultural preservationists. The Pearl Group formed in 2021 to share the story with a wider audience and celebrate Southwest's rich heritage in partnership with other community groups including the Pearl Coalition. The Pearl Group has grown this year thanks to generous grant support from the Diverse City Fund. The weekend event has now become a month-long remembrance.

Read Issue

DC Must Address Structural Racism

The economic and health reality for African Americans in Washington, DC does not live up to the promise of equal protection or racial equality. Yet the political establishment through successive administrations and city councils continues to punt the need for addressing structural racism and inequality for at least the last 20 years. Kicking the can down the road is no longer a tenable position. As we illustrate, the lived experiences of Black DC residents are starkly different from other racial and ethnic groups. The severe health burden due to the social determinants of health remains a lingering injustice more than 50 years after the Civil Rights Movement. An often quoted mantra from that era, “If not us, then who? If not now, then when?” is as relevant today as it was then.

Read Position Statement

Betrayal: No Build First for Greenleaf

Editor’s Testimony to DCHA Board of Commissioners about Greenleaf

Issue: Greenleaf Betrayed | Public Statement from Greenleaf Gardens President Dena Walker | Public Statement from Greenleaf Midrise President Patricia Bishop | Was Greenleaf Build First a Farce All Along? | Poetic Voice Corner | Quiet Place

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Call for Greater Attention to Racial/Gender HIV Disparities

Laquandra Nesbitt, MD, MPH Director, DC Department of Health
cc: DC Council Committee on Health, Phil Mendelson, doh@dc.gov, DC CFAR Community Partnership Council (CPC)

Addressing HIV/AIDS and Racial/Intersectional Disease Burden: Call for a Specific Strategy

Dear Director Nesbitt,
The latest Annual Epidemiology & Surveillance Report of HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, STD, and TB Administration (HAHSTA) highlights the tremendous progress in the District addressing the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The mortality and incidence rates have declined steeply in the last decade. However, the data show startling racial and intersectional disparities, as the tables in the report illustrate (below). Southwest Voice calls on the Department of Health to explore more tailored, evidence-based interventions to address the HIV burden among Black residents, Black men who have sex with men, and Black heterosexual women. Black MSM are 34% of newly diagnosed HIV cases, followed by Black heterosexual women (15%). Increasing screening among this population could theoretically explain these trends, but that does not appear to be an effect since the report acknowledges “disruptions to screening services”. Comprehensive HIV testing, linkage to care, retention in care and adherence interventions for black MSM have shown to be more effective over behavioral interventions (Source). Black women are increasingly acutely vulnerable, accounting for 60% of newly diagnosed HIV cases among US women. We implore DOH to commit more HIV/AIDS training, resources, and population-based strategies to reduce the high burden of disease among these populations.
(Table on left accompanied the letter)
View report raising concerns about HIV/AIDS research funding and racial and sexual minorities.

Editor Files Suit Against Congress and Council

Issue: SW Voice Editor Files Suit Against Congress and Council | SW Voice Interview with Senator Joe Manchin | Housing Authority Headed Toward Receivership | Deepest Condolences | SW Coalition Prepares for Annual Cultural Event | Poetic Voice Corner | A Quiet Place

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Southwest Voice Interviews
Senator Joe Manchin

Exclusive: We had an impromptu interview with the U.S. Senator who holds the key to the President's agenda. Subscribe to receive issue in your inbox.

Who is Enforcing the US Constitution in DC?

Issue: Who is Enforcing the US Constitution in DC | SW Leaders Led National Webinar | Greenleaf President Dena Walker Issues Open Letter | Attorney General Takes on Zoning Commission | Support for Eriq Martin - Young SW Artist | Remembering Barbara Jordan - Former SW resident | Poetic Voice Corner | Quiet Place

Read December 2021 Issue

SW Hosts National Webinar on Structural Barriers and Social Determinants of Health

Issue: SW Hosts National Webinar on Structural Barriers and Social Determinants of Health | Capitol Park Plaza and Twins Tenant Association Retains Legal Representation | DC Officials Makes Case Against Statehood | Creating Affirming LGBTQIA+ Spaces | SW Women on Reaching 100 | Poetic Voice | Quiet Space

Read October 2021 Issue

Video on Southwest Social Injustices Goes Viral - 19,000 Views in One Week

Southwest Voice Editor-in-Chief, discusses Southwest's social and historical injustices in wide-ranging interview with Legal Zone with Attorney John Salatti, Dr. Arlena Cheney, and Attorney Solon Phillips

Press Release - Capitol Park Plaza and Twins Tenant Association Lawyers-Up


October 22, 2021

SOUTHWEST, WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Capitol Park Plaza and Twins Tenant Association recently retained the Law Offices of Paul Strauss & Associates, P.C. The tenant association faces dual challenges - the prospect of sharply rising rents in early 2022 and an ownership transfer that many experts believe is violating tenants' legal rights. Mr. Strauss & Associates are providing legal support for residents to contest the building owners' claims that residents' rights under the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA) are exempted. Rather than accept these claims, which no government agency has evaluated for accuracy or substantiated, the CPPT Tenant Association is seeking to exercise all avenues to uphold the law. Read Complete Statement

Low-income Residents Face Crises in SW

Urgent message from Capitol Park Plaza and Twins Tenant Association

October 14, 2021

Dear Neighbors,

My name is Diva Samai. I write to you as Co-President of the Capitol Park Plaza and Twins Tenant Association. I am going to be blunt. We're in crisis mode here. We are facing dual challenges - the prospect of sharply rising rents in early 2022 and an ownership transfer that experts believe is violating our legal rights. We are a low-income housing tax credit building (LIHTC). 65% of our units are low-income, which means that the government provides housing security through property-based rent subsidies for financially vulnerable residents such as seniors, those with disabilities, and low-income households. Like Southwest as a whole, we reflect a rich tapestry of diversity in family/household size, income, age, and race/ethnicity.

We are committed to all of our CPPT neighbors like Angela G. (read her story below) whose livelihood hangs in the balance. As tenant association Co-President, I want to talk about our challenges and ask for your support. Thank you so much for taking the time to read our story. Because of neighbors like you, Southwest can continue to be a resilient and vibrant community. Will you join CPPT residents and other community partners by considering a donation or other forms of support? Read More

Click to donate


Diva Samai

Co-President, Capitol Park Plaza and Twins Tenant Association

"I have repeatedly asked the management office for a lease renewal. They are still ignoring me. I am retired on a limited income, so if they are planning to hold off on renewing my lease to significantly raise it in the new year, I don't know what I am going to do." - Dax, age 72

How to Spot a Poverty Pimp: SW Action, Charles Allen, DCHA

Issue: Special Issue: How to Spot a Poverty Pimp | Congratulations to Council Presidents | Parking Wars in SW | DC Misspent Funds for Low-Income | Council Claims It Does Have to Follow the Law | Editor's Corner | From the Archives | Poetic Voice Corner | Quiet Place

Read September 2021 Issue

Paul Taylor Organizes Another Successful Summer in Lansburgh

Issue: Summer in Lansburgh | SW Resident Joins Others in Lawsuit Against City | Election Day for Public Housing Communities | Media Challenges with Reporting Gun Violence | SW Voice Intern Cody Paddack | Redistricting | From the Archives | Poetic Voice | Quiet Place

Read August 2021 Issue

The Future of SW: Moving to Ward 2 or Ward 8?

Issue: Southwest Changing Wards: The Obvious Path? | Southwest Community Awards | Project SW: Community Survey Results | Capitol Park Plaza and Twins Tenants Organize | From the Archives: Historical Significance of Greenleaf Gardens | Poetic Voice | A Quiet Place

Read July 2021 Issue

Greenleaf Women Protest, Pride Stories from Residents

Issue: Greenleaf Women Protest for Community | Pride Stories | Community Honors | Social Costs of BIDs | From the Archives | Poetry Corner | A Quiet Place

Read June 2021 Issue

$100,000 Scandal Breaks

Cover Story: Litsky's $100,000 Scandal | "No Chip for Me" and Other Perceptions of the Unvaccinated in SW | How Resident Overcame Fears to Get Vaccinated | Archives: SW Marches for Civil Rights | GGW Report Gets it Wrong (Again) | Housing Authority Director is Out | Poetic Voice Corner | Quiet Place

Correction: The ANC did not vote unanimously in support of the project. The vote to support the project was only 5 (out of 7) commissioners in favor. In a separate vote, the ANC did vote unanimously to approve giving an ANC testimony supporting the project at the Zoning Commission hearing on Cotton Annex.

Read May 2021 Issue

Greenleaf Balks at Impending Displacement

Greenleaf refuses to be displaced - to issue own proposal.
View Video

Greenleaf redevelopment is turning out to be business as usual for the DC Housing Authority - incompetence, broken promises, and decisions that veer away from common sense and equity-centered development. In February, we reported on a whistleblower's allegations of procurement violations regarding the redevelopment. Read More

Mendelson, White leave SW in Shock, Disappointment

In-depth Cover Story: State of Shock Following Council Meetings | Greenleaf in Crisis | Remembering 1848 SW Escape of Enslaved Families | SW Vaccination Site | Poetry Corner | Quiet Place .

Read April Issue

Washington, DC Shifts to
Jim Crow Economy

One-third of neighborhoods in Washington, DC saw a decline in Black median household income. Based on US Census tract four-year averages between 2010-2014 and 2015-2019, 48 out of 143 Census tracts saw an overall decline in Black income. The average among these tracts was -$14,633. Across all tracts for which data on Black median income was available (143 out of 179), household income spanning eight years only increased by $6,884. A Census block that does not have data for either or both periods are not included in analysis. These may include tracts with no African American households. Two outliers for tracts 11001000600 and 11001000802 were removed.

Read More

March Issue Released

Press Release: March 2021 Issue of Southwest Voice: The People's Paper

Hoffman Report | SW Voice Editor Takes on Build Mindset | Environmental Study Gets Underway | An Indictment of Charles Allen | Pandemic and Gentrification | Greenleaf Redevelopment: Black Box | Poetry Corner | Quiet Place

Read More

Census-level Analysis of Hoffman Developments

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. 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. Read More

Exclusive: Whistleblower Tells All, No Holds Barred

Southwest Voice conducted a phone interview with a whistleblower associated with the senior leadership for the District of Columbia Housing Authority (DCHA). We use the third person pronoun "they" to protect the source's identity. They allege procurement violations, poor leadership by its executive director, and incompetencies among senior staff. Our January issue discussed the problematic selection of Pennrose, EYA, and Bozzuto Development as the potential co-developer for Greenleaf. Allegedly, three DCHA senior staff members including one from the Executive Director's (left) office, were assigned to attend the Greenleaf procurement meetings although they were not part of the voting panel. Read More

February Issue is Out!

As our readership continues to grow, we continue to put more resources behind quality reading. Click to read

In this Issue: Housing Authority Whistleblower | Attorney Joins SW Advocacy | Poor Housing Impacting Health | Young Couple Can't Buy in SW | Wayward Comp Plan | Greenleaf Asserts Rights | Poetic Voice Corner | Quiet Place

Housing Makes People Sick

Southwest Voice recently interviewed several residents familiar with the experiences of community members dealing with mold and poor air quality in public housing. At times, we have used pseudonyms to protect their identity. Their accounts are jarring and point to the multiple system failures that have left residents - often seniors and those with disabilities - little choice but to live in toxic conditions that exacerbate health conditions. Read More

"Well-Off" Couple Can't Afford SW

By Tom de Man, Associate Editor

Southwest DC’s inequality and gentrification are a major topic of discussion for our newspaper. Gentrification attracts wealthy people, so prices increase, restaurants target affluent newcomers, and the area becomes unaffordable for many residents who have lived here for a long time. Read More

OAH Filing for Randall

A recent filing with the Office of Administrative Hearings alleges that the demolition at Randall School is violating several DC laws. The Historic Preservation Act and the Historic Landmark Protection Act, as well as the orders of the Mayor's Agent and Zoning Commission, are implicated. Read report


Webinar Discusses Equity

The DC Grassroots Coalition and Empower DC hosted a webinar, "The Comp Plan is Racist: Let's Change It." It showed data on growing racial inequity due to poor government planning. Speakers including Renee Bowser, Caroline Petti, Reggie Black, and Andrea Rosen. The Committee of 100 also discussed their report outlining the many areas of inequity in the proposed Comprehensive Plan. Watch webinar

COVID Vaccine Update (as of Jan.)

Who can currently get a COVID-19 vaccine?

The DC Department of Health announced that COVID-19 vaccination appointments will be released every Thursday at 9:00am to District residents who live in priority ZIP codes, are 65 years of age and older, and/or are health care workers. Read More

Family Communication & COVID

The COVID pandemic has drastically changed the lives of individuals, families, communities, the world for many years to come – if not forever. Here are a few pointers to establish a communication climate in your homes that may provide the only silver-lining to this pandemic devastation – finding “US” again! Read More

Transportation Issues

The project proposed for 100 V St will more than double traffic on 4th St and Delaware. The developer's Comprehensive Transportation Review states 100 V will result in about 1,100 additional cars down 4th and Delaware in just 2 peak traffic hours each day. That is an additional driver every 7 seconds, folks coming in and out of the neighborhood at the expense to those of us who call SW home. Read More

Dispelling Myth of DC's "Drop"

The selective interpretation of DC’s “drop” from 1st to 13th – The National Community Reinvestment Coalition conducted two major studies on gentrification. Released in 2019, the first study looked at data from 2000-2012 and showed that DC had the greatest number of Census tracts to gentrify in the US. The second study showed that only 16.8% of tracts gentrified from 2013-2017. It is important to understand how to interpret this data. Read More

Richard Wright PCS in SW

In case you missed it, SW has a high school! Richard Wright PCS has a hybrid model this school year. Check out their website http://richardwrightpcs.org and YouTube http://tinyurl.com/WrightPCS

Buzzard Point Speaks

The historic community in the Buzzard Point area of SW formed the Concerned Residents & Friends for Better Air Quality and Environmental Justice for Buzzard Point & the Old Southwest Community to respond to the District's Comprehensive Plan deliberations. This planning document is intended to set the stage for development for the next ten years. SW has overwhelmingly seen growth as a result of government-led gentrification. Read report


Lead Paint Hazards

SW is one-third public housing, so the recent release of the DC Auditor's report raises urgent public health concerns. The report "raises significant concerns about the safety of residents in public housing in terms of lead-based paint exposure. During our scope, we found that DCHA had not taken adequate steps to protect residents from exposure to lead-based paint."
Read More

A New Zoning Commission?

The Oct 1 Zoning Commission meeting on the 7-Eleven development was characterized by many feelings from commissioners that this project was incompatible with Southwest's architecture and diversity. "This development needs to respect the diversity of Southwest," said Rob Miller . Chairman Anthony Hood also spoke of the ongoing challenges with gentrification. Given the level of ANC6D and community opposition, the hearing was rescheduled for Nov 2 for the JBG Smith to engage with the ANC and community. As long as the Commission only considers the case a "design review," it will likely be left to the community to challenge in court.

Free Clothing Giveaway

Christ United Methodist Church and the Ward 6 Mutual Aid Group will cosponsor a community giveaway on Oct 3rd from 10am-3pm at I St and 4th St SW. Featuring all the women's clothing that we have received in over the spring and summer - there is an amazing amount of top quality clothes that need new homes. It will also have baby & children's clothes and supplies and some men's clothes and a few household items.

SW Has Low Rental Rate of Vacancies

SW has an low rate of renting vacant housing units. While the citywide average is 46%, SW is only 30%. Lower rates appear at the Wharf and the western side of Southwest. Affordable properties such as Capitol Park Plaza and public housing have high rates of renting vacant units. Overall the renter-occupied units reflect trends in Ward 7 and 8, rather than demographically with more White residents.

More details: Twitter | Instagram

Where is Neighborhood Retail?

This image is pre-urban renewal on 4th St between E and F St on the east side. This is an example of the more than 1,000 businesses that were lost to urban renewal in SW. Residential SW does not have a Black barbershop - evidence of the general lack of neighborhood-serving retail. (Credit: Joseph Owen Curtis Photograph Collection)

Shulman's Market

Shulman's Market was one of dozens of Jewish businesses lost to urban renewal. It was at the intersection of N St and Union St, which no longer exists, but ran through what is now Harbour Square and Tiber Island (Credit: Library of Congress, Louise Rosskam - photographer)

DC Council Candidates Respond

Nine at-large DC Council candidates submitted responses to 10 questions from SW residents. SW Voice cannot endorse a candidate. The questioner will be able to indicate their preferred response. Part 1 will be published this week. Read Letter

Public Access to River

Remember that you can take your own kayak, paddleboard, or boat for free water access at Recreation Pier on the Wharf. Pictured John, with wife Desiree taking photo.
@DesireeHalpern | @john_krzyzaniak

The Other "Urban Renewal"

Southwest actually experienced two separate forms of urban renewal. The most common form was led by the DC Redevelopment Land Agency, which displaced 23,000 residents and 1,500 businesses. The other was led by the Housing Authority, which displaced over 300 families to build Greenleaf.

Successful Back to School Yard Sale

Christ United Methodist Church & Ward 6 Mutual Aid Hosted a Back to School Yard Sale. Pictured above are CUMC Pastor Monica Raines and a church youth. Many community members took advantage of the gently used clothing, strollers, books, car seats, and toys.

It's Our Anniversary

This inaugural issue of Southwest Voice was in August 2019, following half a dozen community chats. The feature story was Sheila Ingram, SW DC Olympian and track and field hall of famer.

Jasime and Rowdy

Jasime and Rowdy on a walk during a beautiful summer morning.

Black Lives Matter Back to SW (1/2)

Participants in Commitment March on Washington march south on Maine Avenue.


BLM March (2/2)

A break in the downpour raised hopes for the march continuing down Maine Avenue.

SW Lives Matter

A resident gestures "Black Lives Matter' support, wearing a "SW Lives Matter" T-shirt.

Student Seeks SW for Capstone

Jennifer Fei has joined Southwest Voice as an Intern Editorial Board Member. As part of her requisite community-based capstone, Jennifer will assist with research and support the SW Voice. She is a senior at American University majoring in International Studies, minoring in Music and Chinese Language, and pursuing a Community-Based Research Certificate. She enjoys exploring DC by bike and is passionate about environmental justice.


Free COVID-19 Testing

Community Organized Relief Effort (CORE) Response held free COVID-19 testing on August 24 and 25 behind King-Greenleaf Recreation Center. Due to rainy conditions, efforts ended early on Monday.

Produce and Meal Distribution

James Creek is one of several sites in SW that distributes produce and free meals. Residents can receive donations from the Capital Area Food Bank and World Central Kitchen. Christine Spencer (pictured above), James Creek Resident Council president, is one of several community leaders to make the daily events a success.

Significant Public Housing Architecture

Public housing in SW provide an excellent example of early century public housing architecture, reflecting aesthetics and communal living: “low-rise designs provided a human scale ...for tenants to view playgrounds, courts, and gardens..and allowed residents to supervise their children...” (Newman 1972) This approach would be largely abandoned in the 1950s and 60s, especially in major cities.

District Fadez: Important for Economy

Barbershops serve important needs for the local economy, health and wellness, small business, and racial equity building. District Fadez is located in L'Enfant Plaza in SW DC.

Instagram: [Make appointment]

BLM Messages at Arena Stage

A pioneer in 1950 of the Regional Theater Movement, Arena Stage is a tremendous asset in the Southwest community and supporter of the Black theatre arts. These BLM messages represent a commitment to ensuring diversity in local theatre. Its 2020-21 season includes Toni Stone, August Wilson's Seven Guitars, and American Prophet.

Subscribe to Arena Stage

Jemmanade's Lemonade Stand

Jemma and her mom pictured above at the "Jemmanade Stand" - a pop-up lemonade stand at I St and Delaware Ave SW. Efforts support Jemma's goal for gymnastics lessons.

Honey's Desserts and Sacred Ground

Sisters, Cathy and Marie, and Marie's son, Nigel of Honey's Desserts at Sacred Ground/Honey's Desserts on a balmy August morning in Southwest DC.

Twitter: Sacred Ground
Instagram: Honey's Desserts

Smoothie Time!

SW resident after purchasing a cart full of watermelons to make homemade smoothies.

SW Farmer's Market

Greenleaf Deserves New Name

Greenleaf public housing including the Gardens, 203N, and the Senior building is named after land speculator and slave-owner James Greenleaf. The Southwest Voice, which includes Greenleaf residents, is preparing a letter to the DC Council and DC Housing Authority to raise awareness about Greenleaf's slave-holding legacy and to request immediate renaming to a culturally appropriate historical figure such as Anthony Bowen.

LGBTQ-A+ Pride in SW

SW resident is pictured above wearing the LGBT colors in a breathy summer dress from Target. LGBT families and individuals, as well as affirming straight allies, are highly visible in the Southwest community.

Industry Cheapens Development

From Vulcan and Superior concrete mixing plants and the large Pepco substation, Buzzard Point remains an active industrial site. The use of this land for professional sports could be deemed reasonable - despite the known carcinogens in the soil. However, the anticipated luxury high-density residential means easily half of residents will peer out of their windows to see unattractive industrial activity.

SW Affordable Housing Pipeline

Based on the DC Affordable Housing Pipeline map created by Curbed DC, SW has 637 affordable units in the pipeline: 112 or 17.5% at 0-30% AMI, 203 or 31% at 31-50% AMI, 177 or 27.7% at 51-60% AMI, and 144 or 22.6% at 61-80% AMI.

Read More

Housing Pipeline Needs Fixing

Of the properties that offered any project-based affordability based on the Curbed DC Affordable Housing Pipeline, the total number of units equals 2371 units. The percentage of affordable units is 26%. However, many properties in the overall housing pipeline for Southwest do not plan to include any affordability.

The Kiley on 4th St SW

The Kiley is the 315-unit development by UIP behind Capitol Park Tower. Based on the Affordable Housing Pipeline map, no affordable units are offered. No affordability is shown for Buzzard Point proper. This area is planning for 1,200 units. Projects that do not have project-based affordability constitute a threat to the social diversity of the historic Southwest neighborhood. 637 total affordable units is 16% of major new developments (3,886 approximate total).

Hate Speech Sign in Hill Rag Box

A hate speech sign in the Hill Rag newspaper box on 3rd Street and I Street SW was discovered on August 5 at 6:30 pm. If you have any information about the identity of the person who placed this sign, you are encouraged to contact Southwest Voice at info@southwestvoicedc.com.

Poetry in the Duck Pond

The red chairs at the Southwest Duck Pond feature a packet of poems and a shout-out to the SW Badge Program. In addition, a CommUNITY sign and free speech chalking are available.

Hawthorne: "Free Wheeling School"

Before Shakespeare bought and demolished the building that housed Southeastern University, there was a previous building occupant - the Hawthorne School. Described as a "free-wheeling" private school for "public high school students labeled as “fringe students,” “problem children” or outright “academic failures,” it was at 201 I St SW throughout much of the 60s and 70s.

Read more

Read about Hawthorne's role during the Poor People's Campaign in 1968

Perseverance Award Recipient Joins Southwest Voice Editorial Board

Southwest Voice is proud to announce that Yolanda Atkins, 2020 Anthony Bowen Perseverance Award recipient, joins the Southwest Voice Editorial Board.

Read Yolanda's Story in Current Issue

SW Chat Series - Summer 2019

The Southwest Neighborhood Chat Series was an opportunity for the Southwest-Waterfront neighborhood to discuss pressing community issues. Five sessions were held at residents' homes in the summer of 2019, with the exception of the public art session at Westminster Presbyterian Church. Topics ranged from preservation of SW's tree canopy to sustainability and gentrification.

Social Justice Concerns at ANC6D Mtg

The July consent agenda of the ANC6D meeting included a request for investigation into environmental injustice for Buzzard Point community, a letter to Attorney General Karl Racine, the city's first independently elected attorney general, concerning monopoles in the James Creek and Syphax communities. The minutes are pending and will be available on the ANC's website.

Photo credit: M. Drucker

Less Diverse Farmer's Market

The Southwest Farmer's Market as the place where "Southwest comes together" is increasingly threatened as a diverse social space. Due to a combination of factors from the new restrictions of the Produce Plus voucher program (i.e. requiring registration and limited use of vouchers), increase of other food access points (i.e. increase in food pantries and distribution in different parts of Southwest), elimination of musical programming, and COVID-related fears, residents are increasingly concerned about the lack of diversity at the farmer's market.

SW Named "Endangered Place"

The DC Preservation League named the Southwest-Waterfront neighborhood an "Endangered Place". This designation is intended "to draw attention to Washington, DC’s, historically, culturally and architecturally significant places that may be threatened with ill-advised alteration or demolition through neglect or abandonment."

Read More

Wharf Phase II: Will It Survive?

Even before COVID-19 became the topic of daily conversation, the SW community was increasingly concerned about many businesses closing on the Wharf. In particular, community-serving establishments such as the District Hardware and Bike and Velo Cafe, hit especially hard. The 547,000 square footage of office space and retail space for Phase II raise concerns due to COVID-19 implications and viability of major office spaces. The glut of ground-level retail space in Phase I is apparent from the street view.

Mother and Daughter Graduate HS

"I can't tell my daughter to go to school, be good, do all of her class work...what example does she have, so I went to Ballou STAY." These are the words of Yolanda Atkins (right), a mother and wife in the Southwest Waterfront neighborhood who recently graduated from high school in the same month as her eldest daughter, Lauryn, who graduated from Cesar Chavez Public Charter School."

Read Full Story

Social Badges and Honors Debut

The Southwest Action Arts and Culture work group is debuting its Social Badge and Community Honors program. Modeled after the badge system for Boy and Girl Scouts, the program gives free digital badges for activities that support community engagement such as walking the Southwest Heritage Trail or volunteering at the community garden.

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SW Voice's Statement on Expanded IZ

"The proposal for Expanded IZ is woefully inadequate and does not reflect the opinion of housing experts aiming to avert the type of affordability crisis overwhelming many West coast cities. Major planning organizations such as the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments have endorsed higher levels of affordability."

.Read Full Letter to Office of Planning

Donald Receives Community Award

Donald Curtis, Founder and Executive Director of SOUL Program (Student-Athletes Organized to Understand Leadership), a sports-based youth development program is the 2020 Community Leader Honors Recipient. This award is co-sponsored by Southwest Voice and Southwest Action and given to individuals of extraordinary community contribution.

SW Action Issues Statement

"Members of SW Action, therefore, felt called to respond to this ongoing discussion, and we write to invite our neighbors to be more aware of the use of language that perpetuates harm, to consider employing alternatives to calling the police, and to discover ways they can strengthen communal supports that elevate rather than stereotype the young people in our community."

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Join SW Action Work Groups

Southwest Action - an applied equity resident coalition is accepting new members for its four work groups: Housing, Environment, Arts and Culture, and Youth. Email info@southwestvoicedc.com for more information.

Visit Website

Tyler Creates SW BLM Rally Video

SW resident Tyler Lloyd created a video capturing the SW Rally for Racial Justice, an event co-sponsored by Southwest Voice, Southwest Action, and local churches.

View Video

Follow on Social Media

Twitter: SWVoiceDC

Instagram: SWVoiceDC

Postcard Party for Purged Voters

A group at Westminster Presbyterian Church DC is hosting a Zoom Postcard Party to write voters who have been purged from voter rolls. Volunteers bring materials virtually. Sign Up for Reclaim Our Vote via Westminster. Contact Roxane Rucker (ryrucker@outlook.com).

SW 7-Yr-Old's Adoption in Post Story

When SW resident Erica Walker read that the official adoption of her 7-year old son, Dylan, could be jeopardized due to COVID-related postponements at D.C. Superior Court, she immediately went into action. Prompted by a plea from Erica, "several of the court’s judges and IT specialists came together to figure out how to make it happen."

Read Full Story

SW Resident Donald Curtis in Post

A May story in the Washington Post featured SW resident Donald Curtis' SOUL community outreach and sports program, supporting mostly African American youth from low-income backgrounds. The article discusses challenges with continued youth engagement during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read Full Story | Visit SOUL Program website

Budget Gives Greenleaf Rec Upgrade

King-Greenleaf Recreation Center on N Street SW is allocated $1 million in funding for maintenance and modernization. Since Phase One of Reopening DC, its outdoor parks, athletic fields, walking trails, dog parks, and tennis courts have been open for use, while the indoor facilities remain close.

Google Maps by: Mariela Yordanova

SW Voice Endorses REACH Act

Southwest ♥ Voice fully endorses the REACH ACT which establishes an Office of Racial Equity, Racial Equity Impact Assessment for Council legislation, development of racial equity tool for government planning, and Commission to ensure long-term racial equity. The bill is required to have a second reading, but is expected to pass in early fall.

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Ed Lazere Visits Southwest

Ed Lazere, DC Council At-Large candidate, tabled on July 5 at the Safeway to get signatures to get on the November ballot. In addition, he participated on the July call for the SW Action DC resident coalition.

Where Mr. Lazere stands on the issues

SW Voice & Action Co-Sponsor Rally

Southwest Voice and SW Action DC co-sponsored the "Black Homes Matter: Rally for Housing" on July 6 along with a dozen other DC-based organizations. Organized by Empower DC, the event featured Go-go performances and speeches from civil rights attorney Aristotle "Ari" Theresa, Paulette Matthews, the Vice President of the Barry Farm Tenants and Allies Association, among others.

Empower DC's website

Hashtagging to Equity #SWDCCares

Southwest ♥ Voice is encouraging Southwest residents and visitors to hashtag #SWDCCares to support a more equitable recovery, community development, and neighborliness. Shopping at a women-, minority-owned or small business? Take a picture and use the hashtag #SWDCCares on Twitter or Instagram. Volunteering with the community? See something great about Southwest? Hashtag #SWDCCares! SW is ♥.

S. Capitol and M St Plan Gets F- Score

The proposal for South Capitol Street and M St SW (site of 7-Eleven) get F- from Southwest Voice on Development Equity Score. Projects that do not offer any affordability automatically get F-.

Image: Rendering of Proposed Development

SW Inequity Discussed in Webinar

The DC Grassroots Planning Coalition hosted its "Equity in Practice: Community-Driven Solutions" webinar featuring moderator Commissioner Renee L. Bowser and panelists Carlton Eley (Eley Group), Sebrena Rhodes (Friends of Crummell School), CW (Southwest Voice and Southwest Action DC), and Councilman McDuffie. Panelists' presentations can be found here.

AG Sues Housing Authority

DC Attorney General Karl Racine filed a lawsuit on Tuesday against the District of Columbia Housing Authority (DCHA). The lawsuit focuses on the drug and firearm-related issues around the city's public housing including James Creek and Syphax.

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Fire at James Creek

James Creek was the site of the second major fire in Southwest in less than two weeks. Flames engulfed a duplex that started at an upper unit. Residents in the entire building were evacuated. Representatives from the DC Housing Authority were on scene.

Rally for Racial Justice in SW

The "Rally for Racial Justice in Southwest" was held on June 12. Sponsored by area churches, Southwest Voice, and Southwest Action DC, the event attracted hundreds of residents. The first part of the event involved participants holding signs and calling for racial justice, followed by speakers.

Fishing along the Potomac

Maryland residents who grew up in DC were fishing along the Potomac River on a summer afternoon. They shared their love of fishing along the East Coast and looked forward to a fishing expedition in Florida.

Check out their Fishinaries YouTube channel

Photo credit: Jared McGrath

One of First Images of Carrollsburg

A second alarm fire at Carrollsburg resulted in one resident being transported to the hospital and six others displaced after fire. Residents who evacuated were assisted by the American Red Cross, the DC Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, and other government agencies. Read More

BLM March on Maine Avenue

Following a protest on interstate 395, part of the Black Lives Matter march stops traffic on Maine Avenue in Southwest. The young female and other BLM members risked personal injury for 8 minutes and 46 seconds - the time that George Floyd was held down for before his death.

BLM Caravan Comes to SW

A caravan seeking to bring attention to the Black Lives Matter movement came to Southwest on May 30, bringing out local residents who greeted onlookers with messages of support. Several members of Southwest Action DC - a resident coalition - brought music, literature, and a megaphone to show support.

10 Ideas to Transform Southwest

With gentrification and over-development looming large in Southwest, the community's historical and cultural heritage preservation could not come at a better time. Here are 10 ideas to restore balance in the remaking of Southwest. These ideas would create a vibrant and more equitable economy that draws on Southwest's many legacies.
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Southwest Action's Equity Report

Co-sponsored by Southwest Voice, "Promoting Social and Economic Equity in the Southwest Waterfront Community" advances community values in four areas. The coalition includes educators, lawyers, students, environmentalists, retirees, persons with disabilities, and parents.

Read More | Download pdf

Legacy of Urban Renewal

"Urban renewal projects displaced more than 300,000 people between 1955 and 1966, and the burden fell disproportionately on people of color." [1] Southwest was the first example in the city and one of the earliest in the country, though not without resistance. Two Southwest business owners challenged the government's ability to take private property.

Vulcan Concrete

Vulcan Concrete is required to obtain an air permit to operate its concrete batching plant in SW DC. Buzzard Point residents have had longstanding opposition to industrial activity in their backyard. They say that poor community health has been attributed to polluters in the area, combined with increased construction activity and traffic-related pollution.

SW Voice Supports Local Artists

SW resident Sergio Jiménez, Pentandra Digital Marketing Consultors LLC, illustrated SW DC animated graphic exclusively for Southwest Voice. Mr. Jiménez also designed the Southwest Community Gardens flag.

Visit Pentandra

Brickies Must End

Established as the "Livable Walkable Awards" more than ten years ago under Tommy Wells, former Ward 6 councilor and current director of the Department of Energy & Environment (DOEE), the "Brickies" are highly questionable and must end in its current form.

Poor Reporting at GGW

The Southwest Voice and Southwest Action recently emailed Greater Greater Washington with our concerns about their reporting on Greenleaf redevelopment. Our letter raises issues with conflict of interest for the lead writer, Nena Perry-Brown...

Read our letter to Greater Greater Washington

Climate Change & SW

The District’s climate study also noted that Buzzard Point and Southwest DC are at great risk of flooding, due to sea level rise and land subsidence- a natural geological pattern dating back to the most recent Ice Age, causing Washington, DC to sink. Yes, we are sinking at the same time that sea level is rising. The Anacostia river is also a tidal river.

Appeal of 4th and M ST

Six residents are appealing the decision of the Zoning Commission approving the proposed development at 4th and M Street. They held a press conference on December 16 to discuss their opening brief to the DC Court of Appeals, asking that the decision be vacated. Residents rely on case law and planning documents to argue that the plan does not fulfill goals of the current Comprehensive Plan and the SW Neighborhood Plan, in particular.
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Slavery in SW

A major slaveholder and Catholic, Notley Young's vast plantation dominated the landscape in the early days of the nation. His grandson, Nicholas Young, Jr., helped to establish Sr. Dominic Church in 1852.

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Friends of Titanic Memorial

Friends of Titanic Memorial Park, along with alumni of the Anacostia Watershed Stewards Academy, have joined Winter Salt Watch. This winter, we will be testing the waters of the Washington Channel and the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers to understand how much road salt travels into our waterways after storm events. We are testing the waters in partnership with the Izaak Walton League...

United in Peace Walk

The Southwest community gathered on Saturday, November 2 to unite against gun violence that has claimed several lives throughout the summer and fall of this year. Organized by community leader and ANC6D Commissioner Rhonda Hamilton and Reverend Ruth Hamilton, Co-Pastor of Westminster Presbyterian Church, the walk attracted residents from across the community. Residents began their march with a prayer for peace (pictured above).

Anthony Bowen

Anthony Bowen's legacy lives on in Southwest and around Washington, DC. The First District Station occupies the former building of Anthony Bowen Elementary School on M St and includes a permanent exhibit on his life and historical significance. Amidon-Bowen Elementary School also bears his name, along with Margaret Milburn Amidon, a teacher and principal in SW in the 1800s. The Twelfth Street YMCA Building in NW, also known as the Anthony Bowen YMCA, honors Bowen.

Olympian Sheila Ingram

It was just something I did." This is how Sheila Ingram describes her silver medal win in the 4 × 400 meter relay at the 1976 Summer Olympics held in Montreal, Canada. Her characteristic humility understates her exceptional talent in track and field. Sheila was only 19 years old that summer, missing her graduation to compete. Yet, she set two American women’s records at various times throughout the competition, in addition to four national high school records. Only three high schoolers have beat her 400m semifinal time.

SW Community Chats

If there is one thing we’ve learned from the recent SW Chat Series, it’s the depth to which our neighbors care about our whole community and want to connect with each other. At our final chat of the summer series, 18 neighbors came together to discuss issues in SW. A prevailing theme throughout the series, including at our final chat, was gentrification. For some, it was acknowledging their role in it and how to ensure that more people of color aren’t pushed out.

Family Day

Officially known as "Summer in Lansburgh," this year's annual event remains one of Southwest DC's most popular and well-attended community gatherings, especially for African Americans with familial and cultural ties to Southwest. Its history dates back to the early 70's, which explains why it's often called by different names: "Southwest Day," "Southwest Unity Day," and "Family Day".

Telling Our Story

Alisha Camacho (right), SW-based videographer and environmentalist, Rhonda Hamilton (center), ANC6D Commissioner and resident advocate, and a public heath researcher presented at the Whole Person, Whole Team, Whole Communities conference. This event was held on Friday, September 20. They discussed community health challenges in Southwest affecting Buzzard Point, Greenleaf, and other vulnerable communities.

SWers Team up for Kids

Najee Ellerbe, a SW resident, of Everybody's Juice, guest-lectured to Friendship Technology Preparatory Academy. Najee shared his journey on how and why he created his health-focused business and to lead a juicing demonstration using pineapple, beets, ginger, and lemon. Najee explained how he turned his own health issue into a health business and shared with the students how it's important for people.

Nextdoor and Division

Statement of SW Voice Board
Nextdoor is no substitute for genuine community dialogue, as evidenced by the recent posts on activities outside of the Safeway. Initiated by a resident who described people "who have nothing to do who are really loitering and begging and sit all day long on that sidewalk". One comment had a veiled threat of violence, "That's why I have taken the steps necessary to be able to defend myself and my family when we go out".

Artist Excites at Market

Ida Mitchell elated visitors with her masterful art at the most recent Market SW. Unfortunately, it was the last market of the season, but you can follow her on her Facebook and website. "My artwork reflects completed paintings on canvas with acrylic paints. As I continue to create, I intend to rotate new additions into the gallery. I am drawn to vibrant colors, abstract shapes, and textured materials."