By, Veronica Calzada, Margaret Kanu and Kidere Seman
You may not give much thought to where your janitor lives, ponder how your nursing assistant makes ends meet or contemplate where your taxi driver’s children go to school.
For thousands of Alexandria’s working families, the Beauregard neighborhood is where we make our homes and raise children. A quiet, wooded valley of garden-style apartments, Beauregard is one of the last havens of market-rate affordable housing in Northern Virginia. It also is home to a unique multicultural community that our families and many other Alexandrians cherish. Indeed, 70 percent of our neighbors are Asian, African, Latino and black.
The 10,000 Alexandrians who live in this neighborhood include those who build this city and provide the services that make it run. When you arrive at Reagan National Airport, we drive the taxis that take you home. When you invite guests to dinner in Old Town, we cook your meals, serve you and wash your dishes. We clean your home and office. We construct your house, pave the roads you drive on, file your papers, take your blood pressure and provide care for your children and parents.
Our tax dollars help fill the public treasury. In short, we help make Alexandria a great city.
But we are on the verge of being forced out of Alexandria. Our landlord, JBG, is dramatically raising rents. And now JBG and other big developers are proposing redevelopment, destroying one of the most affordable and diverse neighborhoods in Alexandria.
We are in favor of progress. We are in favor of redevelopment.
We also value fairness and justice.
Is it fair that our families must bear all the costs of redevelopment but are excluded from the benefits? Where is the justice when a mayor supports demolishing a thriving, vibrant neighborhood of 10,000 hard-working families, but he won’t stand for a new convenience store in his neighborhood?
The Beauregard redevelopment proposal submitted by JBG and endorsed by Mayor Bill Euille is neither fair nor just. That’s why we call on city council to vote no on rezoning Beauregard, unless it secures homes for our families.
We envision a Beauregard in 30 years that is a thriving, diverse neighborhood that includes our children and grandchildren. We invite the mayor and city councilors to take action to make this vision a reality.
The authors are longtime residents of Alexandria’s Beauregard neighborhood.