Washington, DC is rich in Black history and culture–from abolitionist Frederick Douglass to civil rights activist Mary McLeod Bethune to poet Langston Hughes to musicians Duke Ellington and Chuck Brown. Throughout Black History Month we celebrate the triumphs and honor the struggles of African Americans for justice, equality and opportunity.  

For this year’s Black History Month, the Washington Housing Conservancy (WHC) stepped back to explore how our portfolio of apartment communities reflects both the struggles and achievements of African Americans in our region. The struggle for quality education exemplified by limited access to schools as a result of segregation. The painful reminder of Queen City, an African American neighborhood taken by eminent domain to build the Pentagon near our first property Crystal House. The triumphs: Community activist Loree Murray for whom the Loree Grand is named who fought violence in her community. In Deanwood, where Huntwood Courts is, we celebrate the entrepreneurialism of a Black-owned real estate company that built a seven-acre amusement park where African Americans could enjoy a safe place to let their hair down. Hamilton Manor is located in Prince George’s County, the wealthiest majority Black county in the nation. 

At the center of both triumph and struggle is housing. The great migration in the 20th Century brought thousands of African Americans to the Washington, DC region to take advantage of well-paying government jobs. But decades of racist policies such as redlining made it nearly impossible for many African Americans to enjoy the rewards of home ownership as a path to economic prosperity.   

The 1968 Fair Housing Act did enable many African Americans to purchase homes. Today, however, development pressures and the deepening housing affordability crisis disproportionately affects the Black community and other people of color. Many people who did own homes or had stable rental housing now find themselves priced out of their own neighborhoods, leading to displacement.  

Housing stability for moderate- to low-income earners is critical. Quality housing that is affordable and located in neighborhoods with low crime, high-performing schools, access to healthy foods, proximity to centers of employment, and abundant green space can promote upward mobility.  

Our work at WHC is to prevent displacement, increase the affordable housing supply and relieve the rent burdens that make it so difficult for moderate- to low-income Americans to save and build wealth for their future.  

As we look toward our future, we build on the legacy of those African Americans who have made an indelible impact on our region as we continue to build inclusive, mixed-income healthy communities that people are proud to call home.   

Preserving housing affordability and promoting economic mobility in the DC-region

The Washington Housing Conservancy is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Your investment helps us expand our work. Your gift is 100% tax-deductible. EIN 83-1866109

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