There's No Place like Home: Anthropological Perspectives on Housing and Homelessness in the United States

By Anna Lou Dehavenon | Go to book overview

9
"There Goes the Neighborhood": Gentrification, Displacement, and Homelessness in Washington, D.C.

Brett Williams

Washington, D.C., city officials value gentrification, according to Williams, because it reverses urban decay and boosts the tax base. Banking and real estate interests value it for the profit generated from speculation. However, gentrification destroys traditional, largely African-American communities, because rising house costs force them to move. Family structure becomes more nucleated; single men move to public shelters; people split up, double-up, improvise; and some move into the street. Williams recommends firmer regulation of land use, speculation, access to credit, tenant protection, and tax reform.


INTRODUTION

This chapter explores gentrification, displacement, and homelessness in Washington, D.C.1 In the neighborhood of Mount Pleasant, the African-American population has plummeted in the last twenty years, from 75 percent of the residents in 1970, to 29 percent in 1990. Over two thousand African Americans have apparently been "vaporized," and they continue to go. Despite the "feel" of science fiction, real social relations are at work here. Tracking where these residents go clarifies two processes: (1) the ways people cope with displacement, as they split up, double-up, improvise, find precarious housing, and move into shelters or onto the street; and (2) the linkages between gentrification and other real estate activities, such as speculation, abandonment, and fraud. In this chapter, I examine the interaction between gentrification and other forces that make low-income housing more besieged.


Explanations of Gentrification

Gentrification refers to the process whereby new residents--disproportionately young, white, well-educated, salaried, and professional--move into urban neigh-

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There's No Place like Home: Anthropological Perspectives on Housing and Homelessness in the United States
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Recent Titles in Contemporary Urban Studies ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Tables and Figures ix
  • Prologue: Azdak Lives xi
  • Notes xiv
  • Acknowledgments xv
  • Introduction xvii
  • Conclusion xx
  • 1: Poverty and Homelessness in Rural Upstate New York 1
  • Introduction 1
  • Summary and Recommendations 13
  • Conclusion 16
  • Notes 16
  • 2: The 1990 Decennial Census and Patterns of Homelessness in a Small New England City 19
  • Introduction 19
  • Summary and Recommendations 30
  • Conclusion 33
  • Note 33
  • 3: Doubling-Up: A Strategy of Urban Reciprocity to Avoid Homelessness in Detroit 35
  • Introduction 35
  • Summury and Recommendations 46
  • Conclusion 48
  • Notes 48
  • 4: Doubling-Up and New York City's Policies for Sheltering Homeless Families 51
  • Introduction 51
  • Summary and Recomendations 63
  • Conclusion 64
  • Conclusion 65
  • 5: A Home by Any Means Necessary: Government Policy on Squatting in the Public Housing of a Large Mid-Atlantic City 67
  • Introduction 67
  • Summary and Recommendations 76
  • Conclusion 78
  • Notes 78
  • 6: Huts for the Homeless: A Low- Technology Approach for Squatters in Atlanta, Georgia 81
  • Introduction 81
  • Summary and Recommendations 100
  • Conclusion 102
  • 7: Piety and Poverty: The Religious Response to the Homeless in Albuquerque, New Mexico 105
  • Introduction 105
  • Summary and Recommendations 114
  • Conclusion 116
  • Conclusion 117
  • 8: Suburban Homelessness and Social Space: Strategies of Authority and Local Resistance in Orange County, California 121
  • Introduction 121
  • Summary and Recommendations 140
  • Conclusion 141
  • Conclusion 142
  • 9: "There Goes the Neighborhood": Gentrification, Displacement, and Homelessness in Washington, D.C. 145
  • Introdution 145
  • Summary and Recommendations 160
  • Conclusions 162
  • Conclusions 163
  • Conclusion 165
  • Epilogue: A Perilous Bridge 175
  • References 177
  • Index 193
  • Contributors 203
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