Park Morton Residents and Neighbors to DCHA: Stop Displacing Longtime Residents During Pandemic, Adopt Park Morton Equity Plan
During D.C. Housing Authority public hearing on the Park Morton Equity Plan, 12 residents and community members testified to support the plan and prevent the agency from further displacing longtime residents
VIDEO-Park Morton Resident Council President Shonta High’s testimony begins at 56:00 and supportive testimony from 11 sequential Park Morton neighbors begin at 1:45:56.
WASHINGTON, D.C. (February 11, 2021)–Twelve residents of the Park Morton public housing complex and members of the surrounding community testified yesterday before the D.C. Housing Authority (DCHA) during the agency’s monthly Board of Commissioners Meeting, urging the Board to direct DCHA Executive Director Tyrone Garrett to enter negotiations with the Park Morton Resident’s Council to adopt and implement the resident-formulated Park Morton Equity Plan.
Just under 40 of over 300 families eligible to return to Park Morton remain in the public housing complex as DCHA has increased pressure on residents to leave the building ahead of planned demolition. The city has failed to present Park Morton residents with equitable alternatives that allow community members to stay in the neighborhood after a 2008 planned “build first” redevelopment stalled. Park Morton Resident Council President Shonta High and her team have developed the Park Morton Equity Plan to provide just compensation and allow residents to remain in the community where they have lived for decades.
“The Park Morton Equity Plan represents the future, not just for Park Morton, but for the entire neighborhood,” said Ms. Shonta High, President of the Park Morton Residents Council. “DCHA and DCHA Executive Director Tyrone Garrett have consistently failed to put Park Morton residents first during the Park Morton redevelopment plan and have forced residents to relocate and splintered our community during a pandemic. I am encouraged that, after hearing from 11 residents and neighbors of Park Morton, the DCHA Board of Commissioners and board Chairman Neil Albert, have committed to opening a productive dialogue with residents about the Park Morton Equity Plan. While this represents an important step forward, this ‘dialogue’ must be accompanied by DCHA’s transparent and swift action. Park Morton residents and our neighbors will continue pushing for the full implementation of the Park Morton Equity Plan—we have waited too long and deserve nothing less.”
To view hearing testimony, click here.
In 2008, the DC Housing Authority and the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development launched the New Communities Initiative. The project was supposed to bring together public and private funding for building reconstruction while allowing residents to stay in the community during and after construction of new housing units.
The original Park Morton redevelopment project was designed to use the “build first” redevelopment model, in which the public housing authority would construct the new complex before demolishing Park Morton to avoid displacing longtime residents. The nearby Bruce Monroe site was selected for construction and planned to be completed by 2015. However, though the D.C. Zoning Commission approved the redevelopment plan, legal challenges from four neighbors in Park View prevented construction. Without developing a viable alternative construction plan, DCHA has moved forward with Park Morton’s planned demolition.
Park Morton Resident Council President Shonta High and her team developed the Park Morton Equity Plan (PMEP) in 2019, which would allow Park Morton residents to stay in the community, provide safe and stable housing and job opportunities, and allow residents the option of owning a stake in their community. Park Morton has also developed two on-site businesses, High Alert Emergency Preparedness and Morning Cleaning, LLC.
Park Morton residents and the surrounding community continue to demand that DCHA keep its original promise: to redevelop safe, well-built and affordable homes without displacing longtime residents.