Thirty years ago, if you wanted the best Chinese food in the area, you’d go to Chinatown. The DC neighborhood around Sixth and H streets, Northwest, offered a wealth of Szechuan and Cantonese eateries, many of which were regulars on our annual best-restaurants list. You could get your shopping done, too: Markets thrived, and families who’d moved out of the neighborhood would return to stock their kitchens.
Now? The food markets are gone, and if you want the area’s best Chinese food, you go to Rockville.
How did Chinatown become virtually devoid of anything Chinese? By losing most of its Chinese residents. In 1970, there were roughly 3,000; today, the Mayor’s Office on Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs sets that number below 600. Many are elderly residents of two low-income housing developments.
Incomes for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have failed to keep up with the rising cost of living, a troubling trend that has caused displacement, overcrowding, and homelessness for thousands of low-income families, according to a report to be released Wednesday.
Compiled by the National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development and the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement, the report surveyed 15 AAPI and Native Hawaiian neighborhoods across eight states and the District of Columbia. It found, among other things, that tenants and small businesses were most susceptible to being displaced, while some families whose businesses and jobs have served wealthier new residents have fared better economically than low-income AAPIs.
The National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development (National CAPACD) and the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement (CNHA) released Our Neighborhoods: Asian American & Pacific Islander Anti-Displacement Strategies at their report launch today. This timely report highlights twenty-four innovative strategies used by community-based organizations across the country to address the increasing displacement of residents and small businesses in their neighborhoods, using the local context as a springboard for federal policy recommendations.
Set in the historic Chinatown neighborhood in Washington, D.C., this observational documentary provides an insight into the impact of gentrification on the daily lives of its residents. The film intimately follows three residents over the course of a year. Their stories give voice to the community’s attempt to preserve the culture and heritage they value.