Posted on April 22, 2022

Gentrification Causing Problems for Black Churches in D.C.

Angela Johnson, The Root, April 15, 2022

{snip} In Washington D.C., as the population of the neighborhoods around their churches change, Black pastors are finding it harder to hold on to members of their congregations. And many are being forced to close their doors for good.

Pastor William H. Lamar IV leads the Metropolitan A.M.E. Church, which is located near the White House. His church, which was built in 1886, is the longest-running Black church in D.C. But in an interview with Politico, Lamar says the area around his church today looks nothing like the place where icons like Frederick Douglas and Rosa Parks once sat. “To see a Black person in this neighborhood is like finding a unicorn grazing in a forest,” he said. {snip}


Washington D.C. has always been known as Chocolate City, but since the 1950s, the Black population in the city has been shrinking. The Black population in D.C. was 59 percent in 2000. But the 2020 Census showed that Blacks currently make up only 41 percent of the city’s population.


But some pastors in the area are hoping that by working together, they can make an impact. Pastor Lamar helps lead the Black Equity Through Homeownership program, a group of religious leaders trying to organize D.C.’s Black homeowners to take a stand against gentrification in their city. The group of nearly 50 churches wants to build homes for Black residents, create a fund that supports inherited homes that need repair, produce homeownership workshops, and promote affordable housing, including rental properties.