Thursday, March 31, 2011

Ward 6 in the 2010 Census

NeighborhoodInfo has posted the new data from the 2010 Census. It's really easy to look at the changes by census tract, ANC, zip code, ward, whole city, etc. Since they have the ward-level data, I decided to compare the change in two census tracts. Tract 71 is east of 11th below Pennsylvania Avenue. Tract 67 is just below Lincoln Park to Pennsylvania Avenue. These census tracts are about just a couple of blocks away from each other, but on opposite sides of Pennsylvania Avenue.

Poorest by income: Tract 71

Tract 71
DC Avg
Population, 1980 3,279 3,395 49 8,188
Population, 1990 2,880 3,228 42 7,767
Population, 2000 2,780 3,043 149 7,278
Population, 2010 2,911 3,201 171 7,976
% children, 1980 32 22 0.0 46
% children, 1990 30 19 0.0 43
% children, 2000 36 20 0.0 51
% children, 2010 21 17 0.0 43

Richest by Income: Tract 67

Tract 67
DC Avg
Population, 1980
Population, 1990 3,480 3,228 42 7,767
Population, 2000 3,543 3,043 149 7,278
Population, 2010 3,775 3,201 171 7,976
% children, 1980 14 22 0.0 46
% children, 1990 11 19 0.0 43
% children, 2000 10.0 20 0.0 51
% children, 2010 13 17 0.0 43

Here we can see that, after the significant decline in population in the 1980s, the population has rebounded in Tract 67 and remained steady in Tract 71. There was a significant drop in the percentage of children in Tract 71 during the 2000s.

For the tables below, the changes in racial composition are quite dramatic. The largest changes were in Tract 71, which cannot be explained by population growth (131 new people in 2010). The comparisons with census tracts in the rest of the city (Low/High) are also illuminating.

Poorest by income: Tract 71

Tract 71
DC Avg
% black non-Hispanic, 1990 86 65 0.0 100
% black non-Hispanic, 2000 83 61 1.4 100
% black non-Hispanic, 2010 59 51 2.4 98
% white non-Hispanic, 1990 10 27 0.0 93
% white non-Hispanic, 2000 10 28 0.0 94
% white non-Hispanic, 2010 31 35 0.0 87
% Hispanic, 1990 1.4 5.2 0.0 44
% Hispanic, 2000 5.0 7.9 0.0 51
% Hispanic, 2010 5.4 9.1 0.2 43
% Asian/P.I. non-Hispanic, 1990 1.0 1.8 0.0 66
% Asian/P.I. non-Hispanic, 2000 0.8 3.0 0.0 40
% Asian/P.I. non-Hispanic, 2010 3.5 4.2 0.0 34

Richest by Income: Tract 67

Tract 67
DC Avg
% black non-Hispanic, 1990 30 65 0.0 100
% black non-Hispanic, 2000 22 61 1.4 100
% black non-Hispanic, 2010 13 51 2.4 98
% white non-Hispanic, 1990 67 27 0.0 93
% white non-Hispanic, 2000 70 28 0.0 94
% white non-Hispanic, 2010 79 35 0.0 87
% Hispanic, 1990 0.9 5.2 0.0 44
% Hispanic, 2000 4.7 7.9 0.0 51
% Hispanic, 2010 3.9 9.1 0.2 43
% Asian/P.I. non-Hispanic, 1990 2.0 1.8 0.0 66
% Asian/P.I. non-Hispanic, 2000 2.9 3.0 0.0 40
% Asian/P.I. non-Hispanic, 2010 4.2 4.2 0.0 34

Thursday, March 24, 2011

DC 2010 Census Data available Today

The Census Bureau has announced that it will release the full data set today around 2pm (EDT). It will be available via FTP download. Within 24 hours after release, the data will be posted on the Census Bureau's new American FactFinder site. The data will include summaries of population totals, as well as data on race, Hispanic origin and voting age for multiple geographies within the state, such as census blocks, tracts, voting districts, cities, counties and school districts.

Friday, March 18, 2011

What Near SE-SW can teach Ward 6: Hine Jr. High

On March 5th, I attended the Near SE-SW Community Summit organized by the Near SE-SW Community Benefits Coordinating Council (CBCC) with the help of DC-based AmericaSpeaks and LISC. The summit was open to everyone in ANC 6D (others were welcomed too) with the goal of figuring out the community priorities of residents in order to better inform ANC 6D policies, especially given the extensive development going on in the area. This a photo was taken by Tommy Wells, who visited the meeting and is a great supporter of the Community Benefits Agreement movement (discussed below). It was news to me that such citizen summits happened a lot when Anthony Williams was mayor, but seemed to disappear with Adrian Fenty.

It was an extremely interesting process. We were assigned to a table, where we introduced ourselves and got to use our "clickers," devices that allowed us to personally vote. Immediately, we used the clickers to get a sense of the demographics in the room, which showed a good representation of young/old, long-term residents/new residents, and a variety of races (1% Asian/Pacific Islander, 33% Black/African-American, 4% Hispanic/Latino, 1% Native American, 54% White/Caucasian, 6% other) though it wasn't a perfect reflection of the area population. (The summary report has the demographics, goals, findings, and much more).

At our tables, we talked about which topic area we wanted to focus on that day:
  • Workforce Development/Jobs/Community Centers
  • Housing Diversity and Affordability
  • Neighborhood Oriented Retail and Services
  • Youth-Education and Services
  • Environmental Concerns

Then, we moved to a new table representing our chosen topic. At our new table (I chose housing), we introduced ourselves again and began to discuss our topic specifically focusing on the area's assets, challenges, and then concrete projects that could be taken. Each table had two non-area mediators. One mediator helped organize the discussion. The other mediator recorded our ideas on a laptop computer. In a corner of the room, a group of people on computers organized these thoughts coming from various tables into common themes. At the end, we voted for the two concrete projects we wanted most. Some of the chosen concrete priorities were developing pre-K, using the public schools for adult vocational training, increasing locally owned businesses, creating housing desired by the current residents, and developing community gardens.

The rest of Ward 6 could benefit from such community summits because we could get a sense of residents' priorities. The process took four (very interesting) hours, but I felt that we did not completely clarify the priorities. The summit is considered a step towards a Community Benefits Agreement (CBA), which would help the ANC to negotiate better and more responsibly with developers, the DC government, and other stakeholders because the ANC would know the actual priorities of constituents. I was concerned that developers could use these CBAs to legitimate all sorts of projects not in the spirit of the CBAs. CBAs are a nationwide movement. Today's article in the Washington Business Journal shows that CBAs are already a big topic of discussion across DC. In spite of some concerns, I found the summit a very interesting and useful process.

Wouldn't it be great to have a community summit in the Eastern Market area (to talk about Hine, etc)?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Whatever It Takes, Harlem Children's Zone, Ward 6

Several of my friends, along with thousands of people across the nation, have been very excitedly reading Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey Canada's Quest to Change Harlem and America. From reader reviews, the book has evoked a great deal of hope about improving education and ending poverty in the United States. Geoffrey Canada, along with Michelle Rhee, are the stars of Waiting for Superman. The US Department of Education has funded Promise Neighborhoods, based on Canada's ideas, with one-year grants, including a Cesar Chavez Public Policy Charter High School initiative in Ward 7. While it is wonderful that Geoffrey Canada seeks to expand opportunity to poor children across the United States, does his model actually expand opportunity?

The New York Times review of the book presents Canada's project:
...Canada “believed that he could find the ideal intervention for each age of a child’s life, and then connect those interventions into an unbroken chain of support.” Its “conveyor belt” begins when expectant parents learn about safety gates and mothers of toddlers learn to turn supermarkets into learning labs. Prekindergartners were enrolled for 10 hours a day, with an intensive focus on language, including French vocabulary. Canada’s high school, middle school and two elementary schools — all charters — can’t educate all the children in the zone; those left out can still attend computer workshops, fitness classes or college prep. Canada isn’t satisfied with propelling selected children to a better life; his goal is to “contaminate”the entire culture of Harlem with aspirational values, disciplined self-improvement and the cognitive tools to do better than those who came before.
Immediately as I started reading, I noticed several contradictory arguments. First, the book presents the parents as not knowing how to raise their children, or at least not in middle-class ways, which incorrectly blames the parents for the academic failure of their children. The book opens in a lottery for spots in Canada's new Promise Academy. 359 families had applied to have their child at the school, "almost twice as many children as the school had room for" (p. 9). The lottery for the spaces is a completely devastating scene with parents desperately hoping that their kids will get in the school. The parents actively sought out a better life for their children, but the program only lets in very few. As Kozol finds, blaming the parents or blaming a "culture of poverty" has "the odd effect of substituting things we know we cannot change in the short run for obvious things like cutting class size" and increasing funding to public schools to create excellent schools (see the Post article on the funding disparities; students pay $34,465 to attend St. Albans, while the DC Government will pay $8,770 in 2012 to educate each student) "that we actually could do right now if we were so inclined" (p. 56).

Second, Canada's "Baby College" trains new parents to nurture their children through reading, negotiation, and positive encouragement, but the Promise Academy instead focused on test scores and discipline, neglecting the rest of the curriculum (much to the dismay of the school's principal). When I talked about the book with my colleague, she immediately said, take a look at Jonathan Kozol and at (U. Pennsylvania sociologist) Annette Lareau.

In his The Shame of the Nation, Jonathan Kozol vividly reveals that public school districts have one method of instruction for poor kids (like Geoffrey Canada's teaching methods) and another one for middle-class kids. In Ward 6, we have numerous racially and class segregated schools (as well as some less segregated ones), such as:

In schools with majority poor black or Hispanic students, Kozol finds rote learning, memorization, pre-scripted teaching lessons, tracking away from college and into menial jobs, and an obsession with discipline: maintaining absolute silence in classrooms, hours of silent standing in line, and, in one school, "Silent lunches had been institute in the cafeteria and, on days when children misbehaved, silent recess had been introduced as well. On those days, the students were obliged to stay indoors and sit in rows and maintain silence on the floor" of the gymnasium (p. 65). Similarly, in Geoffrey Canada's Promise Academy, the teachers continually test the students and enforce SLANT (Sit up, Listen, Ask questions, Nod and Track), with no sign of training for critical thinking, independent thinking and research, or individual creativity often found in middle-class schools and required by universities.

Geoffrey Canada admirably wants to send all children in Harlem to college. Yet, this form of education is not the education of the middle or upper class. The middle and the upper class would not tolerate this form of education for their children. Not only does Jonathan Kozol's book bring to light the "apartheid schooling" in the United States and in Ward 6, but also he lets us hear the voices of the children who want a better life and see that they have been abandoned to schools that lower expectations and assume children are not worthy of a creative, critical, truly educational education.

A sixteen-year-old girl told Kozol, "If people in New York woke up one day and learned that we were gone, that we had simply died or left for somewhere else, how would they feel?... I think they'd be relieved." Is this happening in Ward 6?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Potomac Gardens Fire: Donations Needed

One of the senior citizen buildings in Potomac Gardens caught on fire Thursday night. The DCist has reported that a 79-year-old resident is in critical condition, a firefighter was injured, several other residents were injured, and 40 residents were displaced but soon should return or have already returned to their homes. However, the residents' furniture, clothing, and belongings have been damaged by fire, smoke, and water. Please help them through a donation. Go to the contributions site: Please write "Potomac Gardens / Emergency Fund" in the "dedication" section on the form for online donations. Thank you!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

When is Density just the Density of the Wealthy?

Urban housing density is great. However, there is density and there is density. The choice is not rentals/density versus NIMBYism/status quo, as Yglesias has presented the problem. The EMMCA blog explained the proposed design of the Hine Jr High site. Here I bring up a different set of issues. Density, even in mixed-income projects, can in actuality become the concentration of wealthy residents.

In the redevelopment of the Capper-Carrollsburg public housing site, there are far fewer rentals and many more single-family homes than before. The financial crisis has stopped the construction of the remaining rentals (321) that would merely replace the original number (707). No matter what you think about redevelopment, density has decreased there.

The developers of Hine Jr High have not stated 1) how many rentals (as opposed to condos) they will have and 2) how many low-income housing units they will have. Rentals matter because they can, though not necessarily, be more affordable than condos. At a meeting, the developers told me that they would have senior low-income housing, but other forms of low-income housing were not discussed. While senior housing can include a variety of income levels, more general low-income housing can be for those with households as high as 80% DC Area Median Income ($82,800). Workforce housing can go to those with 80-115% of DC Area Median Income (between $82,800 and $119,025 household income), while workforce rentals can allocated to those making between $50,000 and $60,000.

Most DC residents are priced out of market-rate units and likely out of any low-income units they build. According to a fall 2010 DC Fiscal Policy Institute report based on Census data,

District-wide, median incomes rose from $56,190 in 2007 to $59,290. However, the most significant income gains were made largely in an area comprising Wards 2, western parts of 6 and the southern half of Ward 1 (defined by the Census as “PUMA 5”). Median household income in this area rose from $60,000 in 2007 to $74,000 in 2009. In other areas of the city, incomes fell or remained stable.

These units would be out of the price range of full-time elementary school teachers ($49,781), LPN nurses ($38,941), security guards ($29,401), and cashiers ($19,757), as well as hourly LPN nurses ($15.72), security guards ($14.13), janitors ($11.57), and cashiers ($9.50) (Housing Policy in the United States 2010), as well as the thousands of interns and researchers who visit Ward 6 every year and single people more generally.

Cities around the world are competing with each other for tourism, businesses, and developer dollars. Cities are also competing to attract well-paid professionals, thus proving attractive environments for, in Richard Florida's words, the creative class, as well as the less-creative-more-well-paid class. We can see the creation of segmented housing markets, in which luxury rentals and condos exist in a fundamentally different market from workforce or low-income housing. As a result, developers have sought to cater to and take advantage of the increasingly well-off by providing more and more luxurious and costly urban residences. This means that the wealthy also need more money to compete for these residences, and thus their lives become more expensive. Without concerted effort, density might just lead to the dispersion of the poor/middle-class and density of the wealthy.