James W. Rouse, the mortgage banker best known for the creation of the Maryland new town of Columbia, recently told a group of local property managers that, "because we are so separated," it is difficult for "well-to-do people to help the poor living in outrageous, incredible conditions."
Rouse talked about Jubilee Housing, Inc., which was organized in 1973 by individual members of a mission group of the Church of the Saviour here. It has been working to improve living conditions in several small apartment buildings in the Adams-Morgan area of Northwest Washington.
In particular, Rouse cited the changes that have occurred in two buildings - the 60-unit Ritz and the 30-unit Mozart near 16th Street and Columbia Road NW.
"When the buildings were purchased in 1973, there were 940 housing code violations and the places were slums in the worst sense," he said. Rouse credited a three-year effort and 50,000 hours of volunteer work by people from Jubilee Housing, which now includes volunteers from other inner-city churches.
The volunteers eliminated the violations and created fit and livable conditions for the tenants, Rouse said. The only evictions wer for non-payment of rent, he added.
The change was "not done easily," Rouse said, because more than physical rehabilitation of the living quarters was required.
"After cleaning up the buildings and removing the horrible strench, volunteers worked with the tenants as individuals. They had to build trust and hope among people who did not have it or know it," he said.