One of the more popular songs of the season, “(There’s No Place Like) Home for the Holidays,” first sung and made a hit during the ’50s by Perry Como, could be considered both memorable and prophetic. Because while it’s a tune whose message resonates with many D.C. residents, it equally and aptly summarizes the sentiments of a growing number of devoted Washingtonians — whether they’re renters, homeowners or those who live in the city’s public housing units.
But it’s something that will take more than the magic of Santa Claus or the pixie dust of fairies to fulfill the hopes and dreams of those who have long supported the District in good and bad times.
Of course, we applaud D.C. Mayor Bowser’s promise and determination to provide greater pathways and opportunities for those she’s specifically targeted — the emerging middle class. However, one has to wonder how or when such a declaration will become more obvious instead of a convenient sound bite.
And it’s not just those on the fringes of middle-class status who are struggling to secure essentials like employment, health care and housing in the District. With thousands of public housing residents in limbo as the City announces more units that must be closed and renovated before they can be safely reoccupied, housing remains at a premium.
Additionally, as in many urban cities, the changes that have come with gentrification have pushed rates up much faster than the average salary increases — making it that much more difficult for the less-educated, the less-skilled, the lower-income, the elderly or the handicapped — to find affordable housing — at least in the communities they’ve grown to cherish.
When singers like Como, followed by a long line including Johnny Mathis, the Carpenters and the Pips serenaded us with joyous reflections about returning home for Christmas, housing had not become a place for the privileged. But today, things seem to have changed — for the worse — in the USA.
We pray that you’ll have a place to call home and to return to this year, for Christmas.