My Plan For Affordable Housing In D.C.

Addison Sarter
7 min readNov 18, 2019

Hello DC Family,

My name is Addison Sarter and I am a write in candidate(independent), for the DC Council At-Large seat for this election on November 3, 2020.

As we know, there is an affordable housing crisis in DC. A study released in March of 2019, by the National Community Reinvestment Coaliton, reported that DC has the “most intense gentrification” in the country. Between 2000–2013, 20,000 black residents were displaced.

If that is not enough, this past summer, DC officials announced their plans to demolish or renovate 14 of the worst public housing complexes in D.C. Once they do this many of the residents will indeed be displaced.

I want equality for all, but I have no fear of alienating white voters in D.C. by advocating for reparations for the past 400 years of slavery, terrorism, and apartheid that black Americans have faced and still face today. Due to the fact that owning a home has been historically listed as the number one way to build wealth, reparations through housing could be very effective.

I am not asking for much I am simply asking for black people in D.C. to get the same type of housing “reparations” that white people received for decades.

Owning a home represents the American Dream. As mentioned, historically it has been the number one way to build wealth. Between 1934 and 1962, the federal government handed out $120 billion in home loans, to white Americans. These government handouts helped lift millions of white people out of poverty and into the middle class. This policy systematically built the suburbs. One example of these government handouts was Levittown, New York. The homebuilding firm Levitt and Sons transformed the large potato field into a town consisting of 17,000 homes built ONLY for white people. A house was able to be built every 16 minutes in Levittown.

The deal was zero down payment and 60 dollars a month.

Levittown, Photograph: Bettmann/Corbis

The large wealth gap between black people and white people can be partly traced back to these government handouts given to whites.( A white household in DC has 81 times more wealth than a black house hold in DC). This does not even include the wealth stolen for hundreds and hundreds of years of free labor during slavery.

During this same time in which white Americans were given handouts, (which allowed them to build wealth for decades), black people were prevented from building wealth.

In the early 1900’s, the mayor of Baltimore stated “Blacks should be quarantined in isolated slums.” This became the mission of the American government. Congress created the Federal Housing Administration(FHA) in 1934. Between the 1930s through the 1960s, black people across the country were prevented from buying homes and moving out of these slums. This was done through bombings, lynchings, and the policy called “redlining.”

The Fair Housing Center of Boston, defines redlining as, “the practice of denying or limiting financial services to certain neighborhoods based on racial or ethnic composition without regard to the residents’ qualifications or creditworthiness.”

The FHA would color the black neighborhoods on maps,red, as a way to show that loans should not be given to those neighborhoods. This was done to prevent loans and other resources from going out to the black community. A 1943 brochure from the National Association of Real Estate Board included a list of people to prevent from buying homes in certain neighborhoods. One of the groups of people included on that list was “a colored man of means who was giving his children a college education and thought they were entitled to live among whites.”

To this day housing segregation still exists. A 2012 study done by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Urban Institute, reported that real estate agents showed blacks and latinos fewer homes and properties than whites. It reported that in D.C. black people were 20 percent less likely to be shown homes. The study also showed that blacks and latinos were only shown homes and properties in certain neighborhoods. A study from 2018 confirmed this as well. Despite being banned 50 years ago, redlining is still affecting blacks and other minorities.

In America, we have been conditioned to use euphemisms for what the country does to minorities. For example, instead of labeling it economic warfare, an act of war, or a military blockade,it is called“redlining”. The vast majority of low-income African American and Latino neighborhoods are simply the effects of 70 years of a military blockade by the United States of America. The poor conditions in public housing in DC and around the country are a DIRECT result of this economic blockade listed above.

Within the last year, reparations have slowly risen to the forefront of the issues in the Presidential election. Reparations through home ownership is the RIGHT thing to do. Again, I am not advocating for much I am simply advocating for black people in D.C. to get the same type of housing reparations that white people received for decades.

What would this look like?

I do not mean to “pick favorites”, but I will start with the housing complex Brookland Manor, in my childhood neighborhood in Northeast D.C. Brookland Manor has 19 buildings and sits on 20 acres.

Brookland Manor

MidCity Financial Corporation plans to redevelop this complex, which will displace hundreds of black families. I plan to advocate for Brooland Manor and other public housing complexes in D.C. to be turned into “Levittowns”. If a small town like Levittown can build 17,000 homes for only white people during the 1940’s, DC can do the same in 2019 with the advanced technology we have today.

This should be the model for all the black residents who are facing displacement in D.C’s dilapidated, rat infested, mold infested, and inhabitable public housing. The reason why public housing in D.C. is inhabitable is because it is usually controlled by white developers who are not from the community. These developers allow the complexes to turn into filth, by refusing to make maintenance repairs. It cost money to make these maintenance repairs, so by not doing them, that is less money they have to spend, which means more profit for the land lords.

When trying to combat the slums in Chicago, Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr. said,

The Northern ghetto had become a type of colonial area. The colony was powerless because all important decisions affecting the community were made from the outside. Many of its inhabitants even had their daily lives dominated by the welfare worker and the policeman. The profits of landlord and merchant were removed and seldom if ever reinvested.

This still rings true to this day. This is why developers who actually are apart of the community and care about the community should be the ones providing housing. I will be advocating for the black owned construction company, called “ASCXND” to fix the affordable housing crisis in D.C. The founder, Ibrahima Kebe, is a dual degree graduate from Howard University and is a friend who I have known since middle school. You can check out his company’s projects on this website below.

Again, all I am advocating for, is for black residents in DC to receive the same housing opportunities that whites received for decades.

Below is a list of other government sponsored handouts given to white Americans that allowed them to build wealth.

1. The 1830 Indian Removal Act. The US Army exiled the Cherokee, Creeks and other eastern Indians to west of the Mississippi River, and handed out the land to white settlers.

2. The 1862 Homestead Act. The US government handed out millions of acres (for free) to white Americans. These millions of acres belonged to Native Americans. In 2000, it was estimated that at least 46 million white adults were descendants of white families who received this government hand out.

3. Social Security Act of 1935 handed out a safety net for millions of workers, guaranteeing them an income after retirement. At the time, it was only for white people.

4. 1935 Wagner Act. It Granted unions the power of collective bargaining and helped millions of white workers to gain entry into the middle class over the next 30 years. The Wagner Act allowed unions to exclude non-whites and deny them access to better paid jobs and union protections and benefits such as health care, job security, and pensions.

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