Beleaguered Purple Line Continues to Stoke Gentrification Fears in Maryland

Affordable housing advocates and other community groups in Maryland are calling for early and robust mitigation efforts to prevent displacement of longtime residents and businesses along the new Purple Line corridor.

2 minute read

January 5, 2022, 7:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

A coalition calling itself the Purple Line Corridor Coalition is raising concerns about displacement and rising housing costs along Maryland's Purple Line train. Construction on the line, which was scheduled to open in March 2022, has been on hold since September 2020, when its primary contractor resigned. As Katherine Shaver reports, advocates hope the pause will provide a chance to implement programs that will position the project to provide equal opportunities to all residents along the new alignment.

Coalition members say they want the Purple Line to help revitalize communities while avoiding the kind of gentrification-fueled displacements seen around Metro stations in the District’s U Street Corridor and Columbia Heights. Doing so, they say, requires addressing the potentially harmful effects of economic development that new transit lines are designed to attract — years before the line opens.

Based out of the University of Maryland, the coalition is developing a public-private approach to preserving and creating new affordable housing and protecting existing homes and businesses, which are experiencing disruptions due to construction even as the line languishes without a contractor. According to the article, "The coalition is supporting small-business owners during construction by helping them ramp up social media marketing, apply for government financial aid and participate in public promotions that encourage residents to patronize Purple Line-area businesses." The coalition is also developing initiatives to collaborate with nonprofit housing developers on preserving affordable housing and calling on governments to finance low-cost housing.

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