The urban renewal bulldozer has caught up again with Sarah Edwards, 43, of 1728 8th St. NW.
Twenty years ago, she was forced out of her home by the city's first urban renewal project in Southwest. Now she is scheduled along with other families to be moved out of the Shaw urban removal area next month.
Urban renewal only recently ensnared Inez Richardson, 66. Fifty years ago, her husband brought the family out of Southwest to a newly purchased home at 1711 9th St. NW. in Shaw.
Now the city government's urban renewal bureaucracy has claimed her home under its right of eminent domain. Although she has not signed papers or agreed to sell, nothing remains except for her to fight with city offcials about how much money they will pay her for the house.
The homes of these two women and 33 other low-and moderate-income families will be demolished and replaced with 122 garden apartments priced for other low-and moderate-income families.
Urban renewal has been shifting people back and forth across the city for almost 25 years. The two Shaw women are among 35 families remaining in the block bounded by 8th, 9th, R and S Streets NW, who have the distinction of being among the last families to be dislocated by government-produced renewal here.
The city housing department needs to acquire only six more parcels of land, according to its officials, to implement the final stages of redevelopment plans approved seven and eight years ago for the H Street NE, 14th Street NW, Shaw and Downtown renewal project.
The city housing deaprtment has the money to buy these aprcels but must obtain City Council aproval first.
Mrs. Edwards is almost looking forward to her forced move this time because she and her five children are relocating in a home only one block away.
"The kids go to school around here," she said in a recent interview. "I didn't want to move away. I know everybody here, but a lot of people have moved and been scattered. I won't have to move anymore," said the woman who has moved nine times in all since she left the Southewest.
That's exactly what Mrs. Richardson, now a widow, though when she and her husband moved into their 9th Street house in 1927.
"My husband scuffled and paid for this house," me secure. He always said if anything happened she said recently. "He thought he was leaving to him the home was paid for. I'd have nothing to worry about. Now that's what I worry about."
The city government used its power of eminent domain to obtain her property a year ago and started charging her $75-a-month rent to live in the house it had acquired.
Last month the city housing department took her to court and tried to evict her from the home for nonpayment of rent, but the government's suit was dismissed, said her attorney, Miles Glasgow.
The government has offered her $13,000 for her three-bedroom, two-story brick house and she believes it's worth more.
Chuck Lyon, a realtor who has sold several houses in the Shaw area, said that abandoned or unlivable houses in Mrs. Richardson's neighborhood generally sell for between $20,000 and $25,000 on the private market, while a house in livable condition sells for about $5,000 more.
"I think it's a shame and a disgrace for the government to do something like this to you," Mrs. Richardson said.
"They're going to put us out and build houses for everybody else. They should give me enough money to pay for another house."
She said she has not yet decided where she will move.
City housing officials said Mrs. Richardson will receive not only money for the purchase of her home but moving expenses for her relocation. In addition, she could receive up to $15,000 for the purchase of another home, the officials said, but the new home must meet certain city requirements before any of this additional money is granted.
Lorenzo Jacobs, head of the city's housing department, said it was "unfortunate" that some families are still being dislocated by urban renewal but "you cannot accomplish renewal without some inconvenience for some people."
Jacobs said he belives "urban renewal has been good for the District because it has made thousands of units of housing, through new construction and rehabilitation, available to the people.
"But that is not to say that some mistakes were not made and that it didn't have some deleterious effects such as the displacement of people," he added. "You are well aware of Southwest," he said.
From the early 1950s to the present, almost 9,000 new and rehibilitated dwelling units have been constructed in the city's seven urban renewal areas, housing officials said. They added that they had no statistics on how many dwelling units had been torn down by urban renewal.
Their records show that 6,014 buildings have been demolished, but this figure includes home, churches, sheds, businesses and apartment buildings. Not more than half of these buildings were located in the Southwest.
Jacobs personally intervened for Mrs. Edwards to allow her to buy one of the newly rehabilitated homes in the block just north of her present home. The homes are specially priced for low-and moderate-income families.
Mrs. Edwards works for the housing department. Since the department sold these homes to private developers for rehabilitation and sale, some housing officials rule dit would be a conflict of interest for her to be allowed to purchased one of them, she said. Jacobs disagreed and reversed the ruling.
Stephen Black, 80, and his sister, Nannie Talifaro, 84, live a few houses from Mrs. Edwards. They are one of several families on the block that were moved there temporarily by city housing officials from another urban renewal area, an dthey are waiting to be moved again.
Black said he and his sister and four small grandniece sand nehpes erwe moved from 140 R St. NW last June, and he does not know where the city will put them next.
Dotha Remell Ford, 65, another neighbor, knows that soon she will be moved to someplace in Northeast by the city and she does not want to go.
"I don't want to move," she said, standing in her kitchen beside an old coal heater. "I've lived in Northwest for 39 years right in thi svicinity. I don't know anything about Northeast."