Gradually rent and property value begins to rise, new buildings replace buildings that have resided for years, and 3rd generation families begin to move out of homes that have always been in the family. Even when the construction of the national interstate system was taking place, land was bought from lower class citizens for dirt-cheap prices to make billions later. Inner city areas have especially felt the harsh effects of gentrification. “Chocolate City” in Washington D.C., Maryland, specifically the northeast area of D.C and parts of Maryland, was previously 80% Black, but has now dropped to a Black population of 55% and still decreasing. It earned its name as Chocolate City from its history of having a Black majority dating back to the days of slavery. “Lincoln freed the slaves in Washington about nine months before the Emancipation Proclamation, prompting blacks from the region to flock here.” Since then it has been led by Black politicians and shaped by black institutions fostering a sense of Black privilege. Despite however many legislators are sent to capitol buildings or state houses, these areas will continue to fall victim to deceptive programs like Empowerment Zones, Enterprise Zones, and the Community Reinvestment Act which originally serve to improve the community. However, these improvements are made far after policy makers and investors abandoned the city’s aging infrastructure for the decades that there was a black majority. The program aims to supply tax credits for businesses, bonding authority and other benefits as well as reduced regulations to attract investments and private companies into the zones. These programs function on the cycle of real estate development that relies on the availability of capital to invest as well as property value. As a result of capitalist overproduction of housing units, property values have decreased in many cities causing developers to be reluctant to invest in new projects. To secure profits, landlords often allow their buildings to deteriorate. Even when progress is made to areas, buildings are not kept up and fall apart after years like in the Marion Barry Frank D. Reeves Center project.
This program stands as symbol of “wasted opportunity and government dysfunction”. After Barry and his administration worked to have this municipal building constructed in the 60’s to revitalize U Street, which had been destroyed by riots in 1968, the program was abandoned for over a decade. Today you can find that the building is not being kept up with leaking ceilings, trash filling the rooms, and an entire unused floor. Gentrification programs like empowerment zones inflate home prices making it difficult for traditional residents to afford new property tax bills. Previous residents are surprised to see the urban-friendly transportation policies; lavish corporate spending on education and billions in private real estate investment and development. When residents finally get the community they deserve, they feel pushed to the side as improvements are made. These changes sometimes force some of those who lived in these neighborhoods for generations out of the area into foreclosure and eviction, replacing them with upper middle class residents. Following up on inhabitants who were displaced in the Shaw neighborhood of Washington, D.C., many are currently living in Public Housing Authorities. They are given something called section 8 rental vouches with can only be used in Maryland or Virginia. Others that decide to remain in their neighborhoods are forced into subprime home equity loans and often resulting into debt.