We are brimming with excitement and gratitude as we watch the newly renovated Maycroft Apartments open its doors to residents and families! After a long battle against forces that would have priced original residents out of the restored building, the Maycroft is open, and original residents are moving in along with other families and individuals for whom market rents are otherwise out of reach in the thriving Columbia Heights neighborhood.
As I’ve walked Jubilee’s Adams Morgan, Mount Pleasant, and Columbia Heights neighborhoods for the better part of two decades, the question of who lives here—who is able to live here—has never been more pressing. It is harder and harder to live here, and, without significant financial resources, it’s nearly impossible. I doubt there’s ever been a time in my tenure at Jubilee Housing when it has been more important to think about who lives here—in Jubilee properties, in these neighborhoods, and in this city.
Does the neighborhood have the right to retain its identity? Who gets to decide?
Let’s consider the stakeholders. Some of the Maycroft residents had lived there for decades. Do they have the right to return to the Maycroft? Some of the new Maycroft residents are long-time residents of D.C., who have lived elsewhere up until now. Do they have the right to join this resource rich neighborhood? Some Maycroft residents are much newer to D.C. and looking for a community where they can thrive. Is there room for them?
Justice housing says “yes.” If you’ve lived here for a long time, you deserve the right to stay. If you’ve never lived in a neighborhood with resources and services nearby, you deserve that opportunity. By choosing justice housing, we say, “all are welcome.”
We welcome to the Maycroft a single father with three teenagers, who is looking forward to living in a building with a vibrant teen center, so his children have a safe place to study and spend time with peers. We welcome back the vice president of the Maycroft’s tenants’ association as well as a 90-year-old resident who lived in the Maycroft for 43 years and will return to her original unit. The neighborhood will benefit from the lived experience, patience, resolve, wisdom, and understanding of those individuals and more like them. We also welcome Martha’s table to the ground-level of the Maycroft, which will provide early childhood education, a no-cost healthy market, and McKenna’s Wagon, a food delivery service. This partnership creates an ecosystem of care that reaches community members in ways that matter the most.
However, without extraordinary effort, the market would answer the question of who gets to live here differently. And maybe—unlike what the Maycroft offers—the answer would not be good for the community’s identity, for our identity.
Whose destiny counts, and what does it look like when we say all count equally?
We at Jubilee Housing feel a great sense of joy that the residents of the Maycroft have the opportunity to fulfill their destiny in such an opportunity-rich place. We feel relieved that we were able to withstand the market pressure and move forward with our plan to renovate the building while maintaining its affordability. We feel grateful to all those who contributed to reaching that goal—in ways big and small—and continue to work with us each day. We feel more determined than ever to extend to others with limited incomes the opportunity to live in places like the Maycroft and Columbia Heights. Join us on May 22nd and 23rd for Do More 24 (see article in this newsletter), as we raise funds to support our Maycroft residents coming home!