Gentrification challenged by D.C. activists in court

A recent lawsuit in Washington, D.C. calls into question the legality of gentrification, as an advocacy group alleges that the city courted “creative-class” millennials in recent years at the expense of longtime Washingtonians, particularly the city’s lower-income African-American residents.

As Governing reports, a federal judge last week dismissed the $1 billion lawsuit, which was filed in June by a civil rights attorney on behalf of three D.C. residents and a local advocacy group. The judge agreed with the city’s claim that the court didn’t have jurisdiction to determine whether housing officials were discriminatory in their efforts to attract young, professional workers.

The judge also says that because the city acted alone in attempts to attract creative-class workers, there was no conspiracy to discriminate against residents based on their income and how they earned a living. The plaintiffs say they plan to appeal and file for a summary judgment.

“The city is intentionally trying to lighten black neighborhoods, and the way they have primarily been doing it is through construction of high-density, luxury buildings that primarily only offer studios and one bedrooms,” the suit reads. “Every city planning agency … conspired to make D.C. very welcoming for preferred residents and sought to displace residents inimical to the creative economy.”

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