I'm standing with LISC DC director Oramenta Newsome in the parking lot of a Giant in Southeast DC. It's a hot day and it's the middle of the day, but the parking lot is packed. "If you were here 10 years ago, you would be standing in Camp Simms," a former DC National Guard training site, then a polluted brownfield. "To your left was public housing," Newsome says. "It would have been extremely deteriorated." Now, here in Congress Heights, there's a Giant--the second-largest in the city--and a shiny revamped strip mall with a bank, shoe store, and an IHOP.
"The only thing we're missing is a CVS," Newsome says.
If Newsome is a little gung-ho about Congress Heights, where her nonprofit has been investing in quality-of-life improvements since the mid-1990s, can you blame her? While the neighborhood still suffers, like much of Ward 8, from high crime and high unemployment, it does seem like Congress Heights is on the rise.