Night brings the Bailey family home.
Eight people jamming into three small rooms on the second floor of a V Street NW row house. Beds crammed next to beds so tightly there is barely room to walk. So little space that there is no room to spend the day at home, no room to do anything but lie down.
Downstairs in the same two-story house lives another family. They pull bare mattresses out of the hallway at night to have enough beds to sleep seven. In the cramped basement, a young couple and their first baby live.
Eighteen people, 10 of them children, live in the V Street house. They stumble over each other and bicker over space. For the privilege, the Baileys pay $205 in rent each month for their cramped quarters.
And they consider themselves lucky.
"Man, I was happy when I got this place," said Charles Bailey. "I didn't have no place to go. . . When it's raining or you're tired -- buddy, you be thankful you have a key to a door.Any door."
Thousands of people like the Baileys are crowding into houses like the one on V Street NW below Howard University, according to community groups and social workers, as the poor -- sharing the rent and sleeping in close quarters -- make a last stand in the heart of the city.
As renovations sweep through an area that city officials estimate to be 300 square blocks wide in the center of the District of Columbia, poor people are being forced to share decaying houses if they want to stay in neighborhoods close to the downtown shopping area and the Federal Triangle.
Nobody's got figures on displacement," said District housing director Robert Moore. The city government has not been able to determine how many people have been displaced by housing renovations, he said. There is no way to get that data. But community workers say the numbers are staggering.
"In some of these apartment buildings," said Silverio Coy, a community organizer in the Adams-Morgan area, "you see every apartment on every floor with 10 or 20 people. If the city surveyed for housing violations, they would clean out the neighborhood."
These neighborhoods have been home to the poor for years: They are the same areas where the middle class feared to walk in the late 1960s and early 1970s because of drug addicts, numbers runners and prostitutes. But now, a new generation of home buyers is entering the city housing market. Young, often single professionals, they are attracted to center city neighborhoods because of the gasoline shortage, the sky-high cost of housing in the traditionally middle-class neighborhoods and a shortage of apartments caused by an ever-increasing number of buildings being converted to condominiums.
With the arrival of the middle class have come changes in the look and feel of inner-city Washington: Fashionable cosmopolitan neighborhoods are wiping out the old ghettos. From Capital Hill to the Anacostia River, from the National Zoo near Adams-Morgan to Union Station, they are buying and renovating the old houses.
"They're going to go on and push us right into the river," said Lucille Bailey, the mother of Bailey's six children. "It's a terrible thing to see. It's like a takeover."
The "takeover" has already forced the Bailey family to move twice in the last five years, each time a bit farther from the row house where they lived for years on Kingman Place, one block west of Logan Circle. Gone is the old neighborhood as they knew it, gone are the old friends, gone is the intimate web of relationships and associations that had given them a sense of community and belonging that made their poverty bearable.
"I don't want to be living over here," said Mrs. Bailey as she stirred some turkey necks in the V Street apartment. "I want to be back over where I belong on Kingman Place."
She looked around her family's three-room home despondently. "People shouldn't live like this. People all over everything, everywhere, all of the time.But where are we going to go? What're we going to do? Leave town? Dig a hole and live in it? What're we going to do?"
For the Baileys, whose forced moves over the last five years trace the eastward path that renovation is taking in the city, the search for a home has been increasingly bitter and frustrating, placing almost unbearable pressures on them as a family.
Charles Bailey's family lived in a house on Kingman Place NW for 12 years, paying $185 a month in rent.It was their neighborhood, their home ground. In an alley between Kingman Place and Logan Circle are large black letters spray-painted on the wall that still read, "The Bailey Gang."
Then, in 1974, the Baileys' house was sold to two young white men who wanted to move into the house and renovate it. They did not want to rent to the Baileys; they gave them 30 days to leave.
What they were confronted with when they began their search for a new home in the Logan Circle area was a housing market in which fewer than 3 percent of the dwelling units are unoccupied at any one time and where typical monthly rent for a two-bedroom apartment is about $500, according to city housing officials.
On Bailey's average monthly salary of between $800 and $850, the prospects were not good and the search was correspondingly difficult. Finally, the family found a run-down house for $265 a month -- $80 more than they had paid in the past -- seven blocks north of the circle on Wallach Street NW near 14th and U streets.
It proved to be too costly. A few months after they moved in, they began missing utility bills because of the strain of paying the extra rent.
"They (the utility companies) cut off everything," said Mrs. Bailey. "The gas, the electricity. . . . We had to be going across the street and carrying buckets of water. The children couldn't use the bathroom.It just got to be too much work to live."
In 1978, the Wallach Street house was sold and the Baileys, who wanted to stay, had to sell their vinyl-covered couch, freezer and washing machine in order to pay their back rent so they could stave off eviction. Nonetheless, a few months later they were told to move.
This time the search was not only more difficult and time consuming but threatened to destroy the family.
With no place to live, the youngest boy went to stay with a friend. Lucille Bailey took her girls to her sister's apartment in Southeast Washington. The two oldest boys sneaked in and slept on the floor of the Wallach street house after the plumbers and carpenters finished their renovation work at the end of each day.
Charles Bailey slept wherever he could and sometimes that meant in the alleys.
"I cried," said Mrs. Bailey, who was hospitalized with a nervous condition soon after the family was broken up. "I couldn't stand to see (the two oldest boys) in that empty house. Everytime I went over there I took some food for them. . . . I'd cry and cry. Carlos would tell me, 'Don't cry, mama. We're going to be all right.'"
Mrs. Bailey knew two things: she wanted her family back together again and she didn't want to leave the inner city and move to Southeast or Northeast Washington.
"Southeast is the reservation," she said. "I didn't want to go over there. It's too far from the stores, it's too far from everything. It takes you a year to get back over here. No one goes over there unless you got someone to see. . . . You need a car if you was to live over there and I don't have no car."
For three months Charles Bailey made his rounds, asking people in inner-city neighborhoods if they knew where he could find a place to rent for his family.Then, one day, he got lucky.
There was an apartment in a house, he was told. Three rooms plus a kitchen and a bathroom. There were two other families living there, but it was a place to stay. So Bailey filled out the application -- he claimed he had only two children -- and moved into the V Street NW house with his entire family.
Before the Baileys moved in, the family that lives on the first floor rented the entire house. Without the building owner's knowledge, that family had rented out the basement to a young couple with a baby, and they resented the intrusion of the large new family from Wallach Street, Lucille Bailey said.
"She (the first floor matriarch) still thinks she's got the whole house," complained Mrs Bailey. "She acts like she owns the whole house. The other night the children came up and told me some man was sleeping outside on the porch. Turned out it was one of her cousins."
Abner (Sam) Samson, a black home improvement contractor who owns the house and 21 others like it in the city, said he is aware that it is overcrowded.
"But I close my eyes to some things when it helps someone," he said in an interview.
Because there is a five-year wait for public housing in the District, according to city officials, Samson said the people in the house would have nowhere to go if he were to evict them. But Samson, who said he grew up in North Carolina with the toilet in the front yard, said he knows what it is like to be poor. So he rents needed housing to poor people.
Although cramped, the Bailey apartment is clean. The beds are made and, in the kitchen, apple-green plastic curtains are tacked around the window. The large, green rubber trash can in the kitchen is kept covered and the stove is wiped clean after every stir of the pot.
The kitchen table is clean, too, with worn orange plastic place mats in the shape of tigers neatly spread out around it.
But even as Lucille Bailey sits talking to a visitor, while cooking, roaches crawl in the corners.
"I keep it clean," said Bailey of her never ending battle to make a home in the midst of despair. "It's hard enough with all these people.If it wasn't clean I couldn't live here for a minute."
Although they now live on the edge of Northwest Washington, half a block from North Capitol Street, "home" is still Logan Circle to the Baileys. When they return to visit, often once a day, Lucille Bailey goes to sit at the corner card table to gossip with the dwindling number of old neighbors. The boys go to the local boys club. Charles Bailey goes to gamble with friends.
When Carlos Bailey, 19, returns to Logan Circle, he sometimes sits across from the house where he grew up. Looking from where he sits, he can sometimes see a designer mirror hanging on a wall inside the house he still calls his "home." He watches, too, the window on the second floor that opens into what used to be his room.
When the Baileys lived there, there was one special room on the first floor of the two-story, three-bedroom house. The children were never allowed in it.
It was the family's show room. There his mother carefully spread out in fanlike half circles her copies of Life and Ebony magazines. Her stuffed cotton animal, a purple boa constrictor, lay on the floor. A low-watt bulb gave the room a warm, dark and special glow. In the two doorways to the room were shiny, silver curtains made of beer and soda pop-top tabs linked together.
Now Carlos sees black steel bars covering the doors. Black steel bars cover the windows. A white man and his German shepherd dog live there.
When he looks around, he can see other changes, too.
Kingman Place is a street resounding with the buzz saws and hammers of workmen in overalls renovating houses. Pickup trucks carrying wood and plumbing fixtures travel the street all day long.
Urban pioneers -- black and white -- have bought and moved into almost half of the approximately 30 houses on Kingman Place within the last five years. Their houses are identifiable by the black bars over their windows, brass knockers on the doors, large stylized house numbers and hanging plants at the windows.
Few of the people who have moved in have children, so there is a new quiet on the street, too. When the Kingman Boys' Club in the middle of the block closes for the day, there is a cosmopolitan feel of fashionable in-town living -- just as one seller said in an ad for a house on Kingman Place.
"It used to be fun around here," said Juan (Boo) Bailey, 18, who gets nods of recognition and "what's happenings" as he makes his way through the swarm of hookers, dope dealers and junkies on nearby 14th Street.
"But since the white people came, the neighborhood ain't the same no more. You can't do what you used to do. Since the white people . . . came, you can't play football in the street, you can't play music outside; if we play basketball late in back of the club, they be calling the police. It ain't the same.
"White people are taking over," he added. "They got the money so they going to get the houses.And the Koreans or the Chinese are taking over the corner stores. You know that store over at Vermont and R Street? Everybody used to be over there. They had a place to plug in your radio outside and people would be dancing. Since the Chinese took it over, ain't nobody over there. They don't want us out there."
With the changes, the lower-class blacks who lived throughout the area begin to look out of place.Their way of life, the street corner society still lingering there, looks like the remnant of a bygone era, it's only purpose seemingly to authenticate to the middle-class homeowners' friends that this really used to be a lower-class, tough neighborhood.
"This area could be all-white, but I'll still come around here," said Boo Bailey, who says his amibition is to be a janitor in one of the downtown office buildings at night. "I don't care who lives here. They (the whites) are trying to make around here like Georgetown. . . . But it ain't going to be like that over here. They can't keep me from coming around here . . . I still got some friends to come see around here and the boys' club is here."
"The white people pushed me out," Charles Bailey said, "but you know, I don't blame them. If you got the money, you can buy a house. I woulda done the same thing to them if I'd had the money. Simple as that. . ."
"I don't care for them white people over there [on Kingman Place]" Lucille Bailey said. "But I'm not down on them for making us move. I blame my husband. He just don't like to pay bills. He'll have the money and I'll say 'Bailey, why don't you pay the phone bill?'
"He'll tell me, 'Let it go. It's only ten dollars. We'll get it next time.' He'll go along until he can't pay the bill. . . It was something like that with the house. We didn't know they was going to sell when they did but they'd been bringing people through and they had offered to sell us the house. But that house was falling apart. . . but Bailey shoulda seen that we had to have some kind of house. He said, 'Don't worry we'll find something.' We never found nothing until they was telling us to get out."
"I couldn't find a place to rent," her husband said. "I couldn't buy a house. I couldn't get a loan to buy a house." He shrugged his shoulders. "I'm just one man with eight mouths to feed."
Next:The Newcomers CAPTION: Picture 1; Alleys, traditional playgrounds for inner-city children, change with the arrival of the middle class. By John McDonnell -- The Washington Post; Picture 2, Carlos Bailey at his former home on Kingman Place NW. He finds the neighborhood's atmosphere has changed. By Fred Sweets -- The Washington Post; Picture 3, the Baileys' old Kingman Place NW home. They lived there for 12 years, paying $185 a month in rent. The Washington Post; Picture 4, Part of the home ground of "The Bailey Gang," an alley off Logan Circle where children played before they had to leave. By John McDonnell -- The Washington Post