Re “We Shall Not Be Moved” (4/4):
This story mirrors the continuing real-estate problems in the District of Columbia, its real-estate boom, and many of our displaced citizens. In the past five years, there has been an increased need for affordable housing, in the form of an affordable home or a reasonable rental apartment. In our majestic city, new buildings, businesses, and restaurants have sprung up in the heart of downtown at a time when unemployment and underemployment have become synonymous with an ailing economy. What I do not see in this city is all the affordable housing that the D.C. government allegedly wanted to guarantee to everyone. This sounded more like a fashion statement, as opposed to any sign of reality. Sadly, the words spoken during political campaigning have failed to translate into addressing the needs and concerns of the citizens who put government officials in office. And it seems as if businesses and political figures missed the mark about downtown development, to judge from the lack of customers in businesses on the days when the MCI Center is closed.
There is nothing smart about stockpiling businesses, without getting the input of consumers and the citizens of the District of Columbia. Businesses cannot function without adequate customers. While new businesses seemed to have suffered from the ill effects of Sept. 11, the real question should be “How much is too much real estate?” This is a time to hold on to what you have, because the future is out there and is full of uncertainties in a real-estate market that is neither citizen-friendly nor family-friendly. Just as there is a real-estate boom today, there will be a real-estate backlash in the future, if the citizens continue to be treated as money machines. What is not helpful is Mayor Williams’ recent comment about the city’s deficit and the grave possibility of more increased taxes.
In all earnestness, the citizens of the District of Columbia already pay high taxes. We are being taxed to death, do not benefit from government services, or are being priced out of the real-estate market. If Williams’ comment about carrying a shovel in his truck is open to interpretation, it would be nice if he would carry a couple of blankets in his truck for the homeless. Maybe someone would be able to see that he really cares for the citizens of our town.