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Barry Farm, Wade Road Residents to Protest Demolition Plans

Dorothy Rowley | 6/16/2014, 11:27 a.m.
Residents from the Barry Farm public housing units and Wade Road apartments in Southeast will converge on the DC Zoning ...
Courtesy of change.org

Residents from the Barry Farm public housing units and Wade Road apartments in Southeast will converge on the DC Zoning Commission's Northwest headquarters Monday evening to oppose demolition plans for their communities.

According to the Barry Farm tenants' association, a developer plans to construct more than 1,700 upscale housing units on the two properties, effectively forcing out hundreds of longtime, mostly low-income residents.

"The developers' planned unit development application must be rejected because it inadequately addresses critical questions about affordability and the well-being of residents, and would cause an immediate net loss of desperately needed affordable housing in the District at a time when we are experiencing a housing crisis among low income and homeless families," said Schyla Pondexter-Moore, public housing organizer for Empower DC and a resident of the Highland Dwellings in Ward 8.

The 444 units that comprise the Barry Farm and Wade Road communities are in proximity to the Anacostia Metro Station and provide units with as many as six bedrooms for seniors, people with disabilities and low-income working families with children.

The troubled communities have long been the target of District government officials and developers who want them demolished and replaced with housing for high-income families and individuals.

After Barry Farm residents expressed their discontent, developers called off plans earlier this month for a community presentation.

The Barry Farm Tenants and Allies Association, which was formed two years, ago is seeking party status in the hearing. If granted, the group will be able to ask the developer questions and cross-examine witnesses.

Detrice Belt, the tenant association president, said developers have failed to make any specific commitments to building affordable housing on the site.

"They want five years before they come back to the zoning commission with further plans — meaning they want the opportunity to vacate Barry Farm now, but leave the property and desperately needed housing empty for up to five years," she said.

No plans have been presented on how the residents will be transitioned.

"[Nothing about] where we will go, when we will go, how we will go, when we will come back," she said.