Demographic Changes beginning to come East of the River

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The population of Washington, D.C. is changing. According to the 2010 Census statistics almost 200,000 new residents moved into the District between 2000 and 2010. However, African Americans barely make up 50 percent of the District’s population, shifting the once ‘chocolate city’ to one that’s more multicultural. The Census showed that the African American population dropped 39,000 over the past 10 years, while the White population has steadily increased. African Americans barely make up 51 percent of the majority. Latinos and Asians also have a growing popularity in the city.

This demographic and cultural shift can be seen in many neighborhoods west of the Anacostia River, but even in wards 7 and 8, predominately Black. With the Department of Homeland Security moving its headquarters to ward 8 the demographic population is slowly beginning to shift. Simply put, White people are moving in and at a steady rate.

The Washington Post has written several articles about the demographic shift specifically noting Ward 8 Councilmember Marion Barry’s old neighborhood, E St. NE. When Barry lived there the neighborhood was nearly all Black and today the Black population only makes up 44% while the white population is slightly ahead with 47%. According to the Post, Barry has faulted Congress for overturning a residency requirement for local government workers in 1988. He stated that a residency requirement for working in the city might help bring Black residents back into the city.

Other areas that are seeing major shifting trends include neighborhoods near southeast and southwest around the Nationals baseball stadium. Many of the housing projects have been torn down and most of its residents have relocated to Prince George’s County. But what is the cause of this large demographic shift? Some blame gentrification, referring the shift to the socio-cultural displacement of poor people with wealthier people who move into their low income and working class neighborhood, thus shifting the property value forcing long time residents out.

Neighborhoods like Historic Anacostia have even seen new development come which will certainly attract new residents, but ultimately displace long time residents. New residence homes and condos are being built like the Grandview Estates along Talbert Court SE and Fendall Heights Condominiums. So what does this mean for residents currently living east of the river? Reading oneself to buy instead of rent is becoming essential.

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