Proposed $600/month rent hike at Mt Vernon Plaza apartments draws protest vigil

Mt Vernon Plaza at 10th and M sts is owned by Bush Construction Companies, the same Va landlord who is seeking to evict all residents of Museum Square in Chinatown. At Mt Vernon Plaza Bush is attempting to shake down tenants for an extra $600 a month in rent, a 50% increase. On the 26th of October, tenants held a vigil outside reinforced by activists from the Black Lives Matter movement and other community activists. Bush Construction Companies was warned that evictions would require carrying people-including community activists-physically out of the building.

Protesters warned that displacement of the tenants at Mt Vernon Plaza would lead to an all-out push to remove Mayor Bowser from office, and that if she has a home while the current tenants do not, that’s where they will be going-straight to the Mayor’s house.

Mt Vernon Plaza is right next to a building that appears to be luxury condos. Bush Construction Companies sent notices to 63 familes to pay $600 a month more or move out in two months even though some of those families have been there 20 years. A sit-in last year at Mayor Bowser’s office led to an agreement that was supposed to extend the low rents in the affordable units another 7 years, but Bush has gone back on their word. Now they are relying on intimidation tactics such as taking tenants to eviction court are also are seeking to disqualify as many tenants as possible from the new program.

One speaker at the rally said 40,000 DC residents were reported to have been displaced by rent hikes and building closures as of several years ago, and that things have since gotten worse. Another had a sign identifying Bush Properties as the single worst offender. Mayor Boswer was called out as talking the talk about low income housing but doing exactly NOTHING to interfere with displacement and gentrification. Yet another speaker said that police had admitted in a community meeting north of H st that police harassment of African-American residents in front-line communities like Shaw is being driven by “new residents” who call the cops every time they see African-Americans. The police speaker said the yuppies “just aren’t used to living in an urban environment,” thus the constant calls to police against Black residents of mixed communitiess.

Video-Reverend Hagler speaking on gentrification and displacement as racism-including a direct comparison to the displacement of and theft of land from Native Americans

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