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Redevelopment Plans Cause Concern for Congress Heights Residents

Residents in four rent-controlled buildings in the Congress Heights neighborhood of Southeast DC fear losing their homes to redevelopment, the Post reports. As housing costs increase across the city, residents worry that plans for a new housing complex near the proposed Washington Wizards practice facility in Ward 8 will force them out of some of the last affordable housing in the city.

Of the 47 units in the current complex, only 19 are currently occupied; residents claim the property owners are failing to make repairs in an attempt to “push people out.” Although denying any attempt to force residents to vacate units, the owners confirm that they are “not currently making capital improvements” to the buildings in anticipation of the development project.

Meanwhile, 19 families will likely soon be searching for affordable housing in a city that’s increasingly inhospitable to low-income residents. According to Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless attorney Will Merrifield, who is representing the Congress Heights residents, the DC rental market “is so out of control that if you’re displaced from a rent-controlled apartment, it is essentially impossible to find housing.”

Similarly situated Ward 8 residents recently won abatement of unsanitary, unsafe housing conditions in a Congress Heights neighborhood, with the help of pro bono services from Howard and Catholic University law students.