Tuesday, August 30, 2016

What you get for $389,000 in Washington, D.C.: A 5-bedroom, 2.5- bathroom home with 1,800 square feet. You get a finished basement and AC. Property taxes are $2,556 a year, and you have a driveway.

To the left is a bland, square, brick duplex. To the right is a vacant lot, and then a single-story crackerbox house with dirt drive-way and a crumbling lean-to in the back yard. Across the street are a four-unit bland brick apartment building, a two-story bland brick house (formerly a two-unit apartment building), and a bland brick duplex apartment building. H.D. Woodson High School is at the end of the block (one house away), and Drew Elementary is on the block kitty-corner to yours, so your street will be flooded with rowdy children and teenagers twice a day as well as amateur athletes use the public athletic fields and basketball courts. (In the summer, the basketball games last all night long.) Righteous Chuch of God is around the corner, and Refuge Temple is a block away, so your street will be jammed with cars on Sunday.

This is why I could not afford to stay in D.C.

Deanwood is in upper-central Northeast, east of the Anacostia River. It's a neighborhood in transition... It was long a violent, drug-torn neighborhood, but has improved a lot in the past 15 years. But since it borders Prince George's County, there's still many drug dealers who cross into the District to set up open-air drug markets in Deanwood's public parks. (They flee across border into Maryland, where the DC police can't follow, as soon as the cops arrive.)

Other houses in the area are just like this one: Narrow, single-story cottages and two-level brick duplexes. Because Deanwood was founded as a racially segregated development for African Americans in the early 1900s, the houses are often small -- 900 to 1,200 square feet. Most have deep but narrow back yards.

The quality of the housing stock in Deanwood is mixed: Some homes have had repairs and new paint jobs, but just as many are dilapidated and candidates for tear-downs. Scattered through Deanwood are vacant lots, but so are newly-built three-level homes. (The neighborhood is trying to have the larger homes banned, because they are out of character.)

Deanwood is short on retail such as hardware stores, restaurant, ice cream parlors, and coffee shops.

You're not close to Metro. You'll have to take Metrobus, the V2, V4, or X9. All three are notorious for having rocks thrown at them, passengers being robbed, and for their "cage matches" -- violent fights, sometimes with knives, that occur on the bus while it's moving. (Girl gangs fight just as often as the boy gangs do.) These will take you to the Minnesota Avenue Metro station -- you know, the one where gangs assault and rob people in broad daylight. You can take Metro or DC Streetcar to Union Station and all points elsewhere.

I would have stayed in D.C., had I been able to find affordable housing. (And I had $250,000 in cash.)

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