Barry Farm Confronts Bowser; ANC Cuthbert Shuts out Tenants

RELEASE: October 10, 2014

Bowser and Todman Booed Out of Barry Farm

On Tuesday night, October 7, 2014, Mayoral candidate Muriel Bowser appeared with Adrianne Todman, Director of the DC Housing Authority (DCHA), for a walk through of the historic Ward 8 public housing enclave named Barry Farm Dwellings, with representatives of the developers seeking to demolish the property in tow.

The surprise visit lasted no longer than twenty minutes as Barry Farm residents quickly gathered to express their discontent about the City’s “redevelopment” plan under the New Communities program which threatens their neighborhood.  See some twitter pics here.

At recent DC Zoning hearings, Todman has promoted her plan to demolish and displace the 400 families currently living at Barry Farm and to privatize the public land, allowing developers to build 1,400 new units on site, the majority of which will be market rate rentals and market rate ownership units.

Residents oppose the plan, advocating that they be allowed to remain at Barry Farm while public housing units are renovated or rebuilt. DCHA has severely neglected the property over the past several years.

When residents got silence in response to their questions of Todman and Bowser, the pair were booed, residents chanting “No Barry Farm, No Vote,” and the officials quickly fled away in their vehicles.

An independent study about DC’s public housing redevelopment program, New Communities, heavily touted by Bowser as a key answer to DC’s affordability crisis, was recently released showing that this affordable housing program is failing to meet its own basic objectives.


Ward 8 ANC Shuts Out Tenants

Barry Farm residents opposing their displacement from the community have faced the DC Housing Authority, Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED), developers and attorneys from Holland and Knight throughout the Zoning process.

Now, Mary Cuthbert, Chair of ANC-8C, who was recently caught on tape cursing out and pushing a DC resident at an ANC meeting, represents yet another burden to the residents’ organizing efforts.

When not pushing residents around, Cuthbert is striking deals in secretive meetings. Regarding the controversial Barry Farm redevelopment proposal, Cuthbert and ANC-8C had been working cooperatively with the Barry Farm Tenants and Allies Association until a surreptitious gathering was hosted by Councilmember Marion Barry along with DCHA and DMPED officials.

Without representatives of the Barry Farm Tenants and Allies Association in attendance – the resident group with party status at the Zoning Commission on this matter – Councilmember Barry, DCHA Director Todman, and other City officials held a “private meeting” on September 9, 2014 and conspired with Chair Cuthbert to fully support the Barry Farm redevelopment plans despite DCHA’s failure to guarantee in writing that Barry Farm families can come back after the project is completed.

Cuthbert presented her surprise turnaround and support of the proposed project at the final PUD hearing before the Zoning Commission held in mid-September. She also read into the record a draft ANC resolution that she said was written for her.

Barry Farm residents have wondered what the quid pro quo is between Barry and Cuthbert to gain her sudden support of the Barry Farm demolition plans. Zoning Commissioners didn’t much care for the reasons that Cuthbert suddenly supports the project, as long as she now supports it.

At the same hearing Cuthbert admitted meeting personally with DCHA Director Todman, and claimed she advised Todman not to respond to the concerns presented in writing to her by the Barry Farm Tenants and Allies Association.

The Zoning Commission will reconvene to further deliberate the Barry Farm PUD on October 20, 2014.


Parisa B. Norouzi, Executive Director
Empower DC, 1419 V St, NW, Washington, DC 20009
(202) 234-9119 x 100


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