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D.C. Is Being Sued For Gentrifying. Here’s What To Know About The Case

June 20, 2018

by Natalie Delgadillo : dcist – excerpt

A D.C. lawyer has filed a discrimination lawsuit against the city on behalf of three native Washingtonians and CARE, a community group with over 20 members. The suit claims that the city’s housing and urban renewal policies have discriminated against some of the District’s longest-standing residents in favor of attracting millennial renters. The suit is seeking more than $1 billion in damages.

So, what exactly does it allege?

The complaint points specifically to city policies like the Adrian Fenty Administration’s Creative Action Agenda and Vincent Gray’s Creative Economy Strategy, which are specifically geared toward remaking D.C. as a city for “creative” workers. According to Aristotle Theresa, the lawyer who filed the suit, the city’s successful attempts to attract these kinds of workers have come at the cost of D.C.’s low and middle-income African American families, who have been pushed out of the city by skyrocketing housing prices.

“The city is intentionally trying to lighten black neighborhoods, and the way they have primarily been doing it is through construction of high density, luxury buildings, that primarily only offer studios and one bedrooms,” the suit reads.

Many of D.C.’s policies—like the policies of large cities across the country in the mid-aughts—were based on the work of Richard Florida, an influential urban theorist who wrote the seminal text on the “creative class.” His 2002 book The Rise of the Creative Class describes a specific kind of worker, often young and working in fields like technology, science, art and journalism. According to his theory, the key to a successful city economy lies in the hands of these workers, who have very particular ideas about where and how they want to live.

“Creatives prefer indigenous street level culture—a teeming blend of cafes and sidewalk musicians and small galleries and bistros, where it is hard to draw the line between performers and spectators,” Florida once wrote(more)

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