Ward 2 ANC and Volunteers Fight Gentrification Alongside Brookland Manor Tenants
Late last week, on September 19, 2019, LinkUp organizers were alerted to developer Mid-City Financial’s involvement in the intimidation of members of the Brookland Manor/Brentwood Village Residents Association, including president of the Association, Ms. Minnie Elliott, as well as public supporters who were canvassing Ward 5 to collect petition signatures in solidarity with residents defending the community against family displacement. The volunteers targeted were Ward 2 ANC, Madeleine Stirling, Co-Chair of D.C. Neighbors for Racial Justice, Alexandra Bailey, and volunteer Brendan Freehart.
All evidence points to developer Mid-City Financial’s involvement in the posting of suspicious notices at every door at the Brookland Manor property from an unknown group called "Champions for Change," who put out a notice that says, "We Are Brookland Manor Residents and We Want New Housing Now!" The notices make false and misleading statements, such as “Everyone Can Stay,” and “If one of us needs a 4 or 5 bedroom unit, Mid-City will build it for us.”
An expert report on Brookland Manor demographics - revealed through a public court filing - demonstrate in no uncertain terms, that Mid-City's planned “RIA” redevelopment will in fact cause mass displacement of residents and families from the community, if it is not adjusted to meet the existing affordable housing needs of the community. Additionally, a study requested by Ward 5 Council member Kenyan McDuffie, shows that the planned redevelopment will harm families, who will have nowhere else to go once they are displaced. In fact, mass displacement and evictions at Brookland Manor were first covered by a Washington Post investigative report back in 2016. Even the developer-friendly Greater Greater Washington media outlet covered evictions and private policing at Brookland Manor, some of the brutal tactics utilized by the developer in their attempts to clear out the property ahead of the redevelopment.
It should be noted that the anonymous group “Champions for Change” listed in the misleading flyers had no names or photos of residents associated with it, nor did it seem to have an origin other than the developer. A statement posted on the Residents Association Facebook page explained,
"This is another form of harassment, directly against the Residents Association, and there are only two possibilities for how these came about. Either these notices were posted by the developer themselves, or by a group that is working with the developer against the interests of their own community. To anyone who would work with MidCity Financial to put this out, make sure you get in writing everything that they say they're going to give you. Our meetings have been open to our community. There are legal documents that show that the content of these flyers is untrue. Also, we have neighbors and supporters from all over DC, Maryland and Virginia that can see through this attempt to divide and conquer in order to gentrify our community. We thank DC Neighbors for Racial Justice volunteers, including a Ward 2 ANC, who were canvassing in other parts of Ward 5 at our request. LinkUp with us against underhanded tactics such as these, intended to mislead and take advantage of the most vulnerable in our community." -Minnie Elliott
In fact, the very next day, notices directly from Mid-City Financial, also dated September 19, were disseminated across the property, and contained almost exactly the same misleading information, in a different format. Mid-City went so far as to falsely state: “Outside groups have stopped the development of new affordable apartments.” In reality, the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless (WLCH), a distinguished and prominent advocacy group, is representing the longstanding president of the Brookland Manor/Brentwood Village Residents Association, an established organization that has represented the affordable housing interests of residents in the community for over 20 years. WLCH has provided representation for the Association throughout the zoning process, and attorney Will Merrifield will present oral arguments at the DC Court of Appeals this Thursday, September 26, 2019. Residents and supporters plan to gather at 8AM for a rally ahead of the court proceedings. Click here for more details.