Developer Mid-City Financial Continues Intimidation of Residents at Brookland Manor

By: Yasmina Mrabet, Housing Organizer

Photo taken after repairs were made to cracks in the sidewalk in front of a building on Saratoga Ave. at Brookland Manor. Because of Mid-City’s erected barbed wire fences, which block the community from grassy areas in their own neighborhood, residents were effectively locked in their homes until the concrete dried.

Photo taken after repairs were made to cracks in the sidewalk in front of a building on Saratoga Ave. at Brookland Manor. Because of Mid-City’s erected barbed wire fences, which block the community from grassy areas in their own neighborhood, residents were effectively locked in their homes until the concrete dried.

In 2019, intimidation and displacement tactics by developer Mid-City Financial continue, facilitated by city officials, including Mayor Muriel Bowser, Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie, and the entire District City Council, who recently approved the allocation of $47 million in public money to support Mid-City’s plan to reduce the affordable housing stock, while increasing the luxury housing stock in the Rhode Island Avenue Corridor. 

Mid-City initiated their proposed redevelopment with announcements to the community, which became a target of Mid-City's hired, armed guards who were tasked with enforcing tenant violations of ever-changing “community rules.” Mid-City’s brutal eviction campaign resulted in many tragedies for the community, exposed in a front page article by the Washington Post. Last year, the developer restricted the privileges of the organized Residents Association by taking away their key to the community room, and limiting their access to one two hour meeting per month. Mid-City has continued attempts to intimidate tenants who have spoken up in defense of affordable housing and of family sized units.

Most recently, a family living in a five bedroom unit has bravely stood up in defense of their household and of all families at Brookland Manor by taking an active role in a familial status discrimination lawsuit, brought against Mid-City by attorneys at Covington & Burling LLP and the Washington Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs. This family is one of many at imminent risk of displacement if Mid-City's planned "RIA" redevelopment proceeds - a redevelopment that will significantly reduce the number of existing affordable units, and eliminate almost all large bedroom size units. In a retaliatory response to the family’s decision to become a named plaintiff in the class action lawsuit, Mid-City sent out a letter to residents in every household at the Brookland Manor property, naming and blaming the family’s head of household for delay of the planned luxury redevelopment. The letter reads: 

“Dear Residents, 

We want you to be aware of an event that may continue to delay your long-awaited new affordable apartments, amenities, green space, and shopping options. This week [Named Resident] decided to become a plaintiff in the class action suit to stop the planned redevelopment of RIA...Unfortunately, the recent decision of one of your fellow residents to participate in the lawsuit may only further delay your future homes from being built...” 

Mid-City’s unabashed attempt at intimidation and public shaming of this family is standard practice for a developer who has called out, by name, several tenant leaders who have been voices for the community over the years, including the president of the Residents Association. Additionally, this letter, among many others, continues Mid-City’s disingenuous promise that the luxury “RIA” redevelopment will meet the affordable housing needs of the community.

The Brookland Manor/Brentwood Village Residents Association has released the following statement: 

“Mid-City somehow thinks people should be shamed for defending their community. We are proud of all those who have stood up for families and residents in our community, and once again, despite the misinformation Mid-City has put out to the public, there are many families here that need affordable and family sized housing. We are disheartened by Councilmember McDuffie’s ongoing support for this redevelopment, against the interests of our community, and we are outraged by Mayor Muriel Bowser and the entire City Council for allocating $47 million in public financing for Mid-City’s luxury redevelopment plan, even as we continue to be a target of intimidation and harassment. Our plan as an association is to continue organizing to protect our homes, our families, and our community as a whole from displacement and gentrification. Our city is in an affordable housing crisis and it is a shame that the politicians claiming to represent us are instead representing Mid-City and other developers trying to profit at the expense of working people.” 

Stay tuned for ongoing updates on the fight to protect affordable housing at Brookland Manor.

Yasmina Mrabet