Brentwood has been my home for 64 years and is a neighborhood in transition. Mine was among the first African American families to move to Brentwood in the 1950s, and I have always been active in my community — in the best and worst of times — and I can tell you change is here. The changes in Brentwood mirror those of the District, with many new people moving to the neighborhood.
Brookland Manor Apartments is a big part of our community’s change. For more than 80 years, Brookland Manor has shaped Brentwood’s history and been a home to very-low-income residents.
Brookland Manor is due for an overhaul, and its residents and the neighborhood will benefit greatly from it being redeveloped into a mixed-income community. The right balance will allow Brentwood’s children to dream differently, aspire, achieve and realize opportunity.
But change comes with challenges. One of our central challenges in Brentwood and throughout the District is providing enough affordable housing and economic opportunity to meet the needs of our growing and diverse population.
As president of the Brentwood Civic Association, I focus my energies on these and other quality-of-life issues such as public safety, infrastructure, schools and helping my neighbors — things that bring people together and connect us. The notion of focusing on quality-of-life issues may be old-fashioned, but it is rooted in the neighborhood that I grew up in in the 1950s and 1960s, so I hope that we in Brentwood are indeed headed back to a place where trust, freedom, diversity and community are pervasive.
I think the new development will help do just that.
When finished, it will include more than 1,700 homes. Of those, about a fifth will be designated for low-income families. That’s 12 percent above what is required by D.C. law. A portion of these affordable units will be designated for Brentwood’s senior community and will provide services and amenities specifically for an aging population.
The development also will include space for businesses, including a much-needed grocery store, restaurants and other retail shops. That will create jobs right in our neighborhood and increase D.C.’s tax revenue.
The existing 80-year-old property is physically and sociologically obsolete. We must make a clean break from the failed housing policies of the 20th century, creating an environment that works best for all of the community’s residents.
The D.C. zoning commission has approved the project twice already. It is time for all of us to come together as one community — residents, advocates, council members and the mayor — to support this project and others like it that will truly provide a brighter future for our children and city. Brentwood’s quality of life depends on us moving forward with faith in our capacity to create a new community of peace, understanding and opportunity.
Earline Frazier is president of the Brentwood Civic Association.