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Anacostia Residents Speak Up Against D.C.-Owned Vacant Homes

‘We see [the D.C. government] as the biggest slumlord in Anacostia’

In order to lower the number of vacant and blighted properties, the Washington, D.C. government can levy higher property taxes and increase annual payments on the property owner. But what can the D.C. government do when the owner is the D.C. government, itself?

In a recent article published in WAMU, Anacostia residents spoke up against the D.C. government and the number of D.C.-owned vacant lots, buildings, and homes left unrestored. One Anacostia resident and member of the Anacostia Historic Preservation Society, named Marcia Parkes, said to WAMU, "We see them as the biggest slumlord in Anacostia,"

In the District, there are roughly 1,500 vacant homes reported with 150 vacant lots and buildings owned by the D.C. government through the Department of Housing and Community Development's (DHCD) Property Acquisition and Disposition Division. According to WAMU, a majority of the D.C.-owned vacant lots, buildings, and homes are in Wards 7 and 8. At least seven are located in Anacostia’s historic district.

While the the DHCD intends to sell the vacant properties, Anacostia residents are frustrated with how slow the process is. One 1890s-built home in Anacostia that WAMU wrote about has been vacant for at least 20 years with the D.C. government as the owner for the past 14 years.

In response to residents’ complaints, DHCD Director Polly Donaldson told WAMU that the agency hopes to put the D.C.-owned Historic Anacostia homes up for sale in the fall. A historic preservation group known as The L'Enfant Trust hopes to purchase and renovate four houses in Anacostia's historic district.

For more information on how Anacostia residents are responding, be sure to check out WAMU’s article here.

To report a building that is vacant, either call 311 or email