Photograph of Anacostia's Big Chair
Ken Martin

I have called Anacostia my home for the last 43 years. I am so happy that the place I call home is getting some much-needed redevelopment.

Many people who live and work in Anacostia are fearful that the new development will lead to Anacostia becoming gentrified, like so many other great neighborhoods in our city. I share some of those fears. The house I live in is in need of some repairs, and my goal and hope is to be able to one day purchase this house from my mother and make those repairs. Mother and I could make these repairs and become first-time homeowners. I am thankful that I have sisters and a brother who are supportive of me being able to keep this house in my family.

Many houses on my block have been remodeled and new people have moved in. Most are not African-American, and that’s alright with me because I learned a long time ago, people are people and we all do what we do. But my hope is for those in my community who are on fixed incomes and in need of a place, that they can afford long term leases.  I know that at first, politicians always try to reassure those of us in the community that we won’t be priced out, but they seem to never keep their word. Therefore, the displacement continues.

The main reason why I am writing about this is that during the president’s State of the Union address he never said anything about black Americans and how we may begin to lift ourselves out of homelessness and poverty. I truly believe the one thing America owes the black community is access to sustainable housing. So, if in his last State of the Union address he truly wanted to begin to help those in the black community, he needed to promise to increase people’s rights to affordable and sustainable housing. I believe the number one thing that keeps people down is the lack of sustainable housing.

We could talk about how black America is only 13 percent of the population, but comprises a disproportionate number of people in poverty. Or we could speak on how so many families are just one paycheck away from homelessness. But the truth is no one really wants to talk about these facts or about solutions that will address them.

My hope is that before the president leaves office he will sit down with us in the homeless community and come up with some ways we can help those in need of a home.

Anacostia Is My Home | 01.24.2016