Residents and supporters of D.C.’s Park Morton are gathering Tuesday to bring focus to a failed initiative that they say has resulted in the displacement and erasure of Black communities in the District of Columbia.
The “New Communities Initiative,” program, offered as a redevelopment scheme by Mayor Muriel Bowser’s planning and economic development office, will only replace 57 out of 174 units of public housing on the Park Morton footprint which is not nearly enough units for all residents who want to return to a redeveloped site, according to a statement issued Monday by the grassroots organization. Empower DC.
“There is no end in sight for the legal issues holding up the development at Bruce Monroe Park, initially planned to serve as a “Build-First” site,” Empower DC stated. “As a result, Park Morton residents are rapidly being displaced around the city with no idea of when they will be able to return, what they will return to, most importantly, if they even have the guaranteed right to return to the property once rebuilt.”
Residents and supporters will gather at 3:30 p.m., Tuesday in front of 615 Morton St. in Northwest and shortly after, will march to Park Road and Georgia Avenue, where they will speak on how each responsible governmental entity has failed them. One example they gave for the failed initiative was the city’s ignoring of an alternative resident-led development “Park Morton Equity Plan” in Ward 1, which provides a roadmap to prevent displacement and establish human capital programs for residents.
“In light of the New Communities redevelopment, I and other Park Morton residents feel that DMPED, DCHA and the developers have lied to us and forced us out of our long-term homes,” Shonta High, Council at Park Morton president, said. “We deserve better and that’s why the fight must continue. Residents deserve the upliftment of being entrepreneurs, homeowners and being able to be upstanding community members in the place they call home.”