Spanish-speaking residents of Adams-Morgan and upper 14th Street NW, faced with eviction, rundown buildings, displacement and little knowledge of English, will soon have the city's first bilingual housing counseling service to help them.
"The purpose of this program is to make all of the housing resources of the District of Columbia fully available for the first time to members of the Hispanic Community," said Mayor Marion Barry last week as he signed a $75,000 contract with Adelante, a six-year-old Hispanic legal aid organization, to run the program.
The center will open by the end of the month at Adelante's offices, 3045 15th St. NW, to inform the neighborhood's estimated 25,000 Hispanics about their rights as tenants, city assistance for homeownership, tenant ownership of apartment buildings, and housing discrimination, said Susana Cepeda, Adelante's director. Services will be free.
Hispanics cited dilapidated housing and overcrowding as their biggest problems in a survey conducted last year by the city's Department of Housing and Community Development and the Office of Latino Affairs. While many black city residents face the same problems, many Hispanics are further hindered by the fact that they might not speak English very well.
Hispanics started moving to Adams-Morgan, the area around 18th Street and Columbia Road NW, in large numbers following the city's 1968 riots. As many of the neighborhood's whites moved out, many large apartments and homes were divided up and rented to low-income blacks and Hispanics.
By the mid-1970s, young couples -- many of them white -- attracted by the low prices and Victorian decor of the area's large houses, began to move in. Many large apartments became condominiums.
Meanwhile, blacks and Hispanics moved east toward 14th Street NW.