Just say no to BIDs

photo of a tent and the "rain" light art installation

A tent encampment cleanup was conducted at the M Street NE underpass on April 9, 2019. City cleanups are generally conducted in this area on a bi-weekly basis. Photo by Aaron Raubvogel

This article is part of our 2019 contribution to the DC Homeless Crisis Reporting Project in collaboration with other local newsrooms. You can see all of our collective work published throughout the day at DCHomelessCrisis.press and join the public Facebook group to discuss how to act on this information and add context to areas we may have overlooked. 


Business Improvement Districts are the Trojan Horses of gentrification in our city. Most people only see them cleaning up and making things look nice. Now the new people of NoMa are complaining about street encampments. When BIDs show up, hiring neighborhood workers in colored jumpsuits, crime may be reduced but poor people start to disappear en masse. Just watch the new South Capitol Street, Congress Heights or Anacostia BID situations. It’s the same move used on Native Americans to steal their land. So if your organization is taking ANY BID assistance whatsoever you’re part of the problem, not the solution.

Wendell Williams is a Street Sense Media artist and vendor. This is one of three responses to an open-letter letter written by the NoMa Business Improvement District that we published as a collection on Aug. 29. Read the others here.

Issues |Civil Rights|Criminalization of Homelessness|Encampments|Gentrification|Living Unsheltered

Region |NoMa|Northeast|Ward 6|Washington DC

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We believe ending homelessness begins with listening to the stories of those who have experienced it.