Report: DC Auditor Lays Bare the Threat of Lead Paint in Public Housing
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."
ANC6D Incumbents Win
All ANC6D commissioners who ran for reelection easily won their seat. Rhonda Hamilton (pictured left) won with 96% of the vote for 6D06. Ms. Hamilton is a longstanding community leader who represents Syphax and James Creek Apartments, as well as the south M St portion of Greenleaf Apartments.
Board Opposes Development
"Based on over ten years of data about the displacement of Black people in SW and citywide, we cannot but conclude that the attack on SW’s social diversity is conscious and intentional in changing the makeup of our community...."
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.
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 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
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.
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.
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.
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 email@example.com.
Poetry in the Duck Pond
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.
Perseverance Award Recipient Joins Southwest Voice Editorial Board
SW Chat Series - Summer 2019
Chiefly facilitated by Chris Williams, 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. Hosts were Emma, Pam and Coy, and Adom and Christina.
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."
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.
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."
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."
Tyler Creates SW BLM Rally Video
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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), Chris Williams (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.
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.
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.
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.
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."  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 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.
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...
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.
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'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.
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 Chris Williams, 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, for Coy McKinney's, another SW resident, Urban Agriculture course. 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."