A study of families who were forced to move from their homes and apartments in Washington last year reveals that displacement is a costly side effect of the private revitalization of the city's neighborhoods.
"The process of displacement leaves its 'victims' with higher rents, higher transportation costs, unneccessary moving costs and with more money worries generally," the report concluded. It was released this week by the economics department at the University of the District of Columbia
Using eviction records at the District's office of rent administration, an urban planner at UDC traced and interviewed 102 persons. Their research disclosed that slightly more than a fourth of the displaced D.C. persons interviewed moved to Maryland or Virginia. Another 29 percent found new housing in the same neighborhood, a third moved to adjacent neighborhoods, and 12 percent were still figthting evictgion when they were interviewed.
One group of displaced persons interviewed had lived at 1824 S St. NW. Shortly after the 16-apartment building there was sold the new owners issued 90-day eviction notices.
"We had lived there so long that we felt almost as if we 'owned' the building," one tenant was quoted as saying in the report. "It was a terrible experience that I will never forget."
Another tanant, who has three children and an income of less than $6,000 a year, was forced to move in with another family.
A third Street tenant, a women who had lived in her apartment for 39 years, found new living quarters that physically were much better than her old apartment, but she wasn't happy. She reported that she missed her friends in the old neighborhood, and such conveniences as being able to call a drugstore nearby to have medicine delivered. She also had to pay $50 a month more in rent.
That woman wasn't alone, the study determined. While half the displaced persons said they ended up in houses or apartments that probably were in better condition than their old homes, more than half also said they felt they were in worse shape over all because of the move from familiar neighborhoods.
The displacement analysis was conducted by Betty J. Collier, an assistant professor of economics at UDC; Alexander Gabbin, an associate professor of economics at Lincoln University Pennsylvania; Charles Lawrence, a former UDC economics student and Mary White, a UDC graduate student in community and urban planning.
Funding for and administration of the study was from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and American University.
The report provides one of the few statistical surveys of displacement in Washington, a relatively new phonomenon that is an offshoot of the massive private renovation and rehabilitaion of row houses that are changing many city neighborhoods across the country.
While there are obvious benefits to revitalization of inner cities -- such as an improved tax base and decreased dependence upon city services as professionals replace the unemployed -- many urban analysts say they fear a new class of "urban nomads" is being created and that cities have done little to meet the problem.
The city's Rental Accommodations Office recently completed a study of displacement that the city housing department currently is reviewing.
Late last year, a special housing task force set up by D.C. Mayor Marion Barry reported that some 150,000 inner city residents -- about 60,000 families -- are likely to be displaced from their homes in coming years because of housing renovation and rising costs.
The UDC report suggested that the city encourage the use of cooperative housing, in which tenants can own their own buildings through shares in a nonprofit cooperative corporation.