How DC stakeholders can use strategic accountability to ensure Ward 8’s rapid change benefits all residents

Blog post by Somala Diby, Mary Bogle
May 14, 2018

Urban–Greater DC   (Washington, D.C.)

Change is ramping up in historic Anacostia and other neighborhoods in Washington, DC’s Ward 8. Over the past 10 years, a new US Department of Homeland Security headquarters has opened on the St. Elizabeth’s campus, and DC government agencies and retail outfits like Walgreens have opened near the historic gateway to the community. A slew of projects is slated for the coming years, including a Washington Wizards basketball training facility, a branch of the local restaurant chain Busboys and Poets, several major mixed-use and residential developments, and the 11th Street Bridge Park.

But an influx of new development won’t be the only change coming to these neighborhoods. Population forecasts from the DC Office of Planning show that between 2015 and 2045, Ward 8 neighborhoods like Anacostia, Fairlawn, and Hillcrest will see a 65 percent increase in population, or 20,958 more residents—nearly double the pace of the city’s growth projections in that time (38.6 percent). Planners also forecast a 214.5 percent increase in employment in Ward 8 (9,210 employed residents), compared with a 31 percent increase for the city.

Ward 8 residents discuss these changes with a mixture of fear and hope. As one resident who is looking to buy a home in Ward 8 recently described to us during a focus group, “People are being priced out of the city, and they’re seeing the value of Ward 8 in general. It’s closer to jobs and the city center. And as the prices balloon in other parts of the city, they’re looking to expand. There’s not enough room.”

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