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Alexandria Council Votes To Rezone In West End, Displacing Thousands

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Developers will replace 2,500 market-rate garden units with 6,600 units of mostly luxury apartments in Alexandria's West End.
Michael Pope
Developers will replace 2,500 market-rate garden units with 6,600 units of mostly luxury apartments in Alexandria's West End.

Thousands of low-income families on the West End of Alexandria, Va., are facing a new sense of uncertainty about their future after the Alexandria City Council voted 6 to 1 last weekend to rezone the area to make way for luxury apartments.

Many of the families in residence don't know what the future holds. Hazam Khammash, 15, is from Jordan, one of many residents in the area from around the globe.

"It's kind up upsetting, you know, because my mom works really work and, you know, she has to work harder," Khammash says.

This blue-collar neighborhood is full of taxi drivers and restaurant workers and hotel janitors. Now the area is ripe for redevelopment, especially now that city leaders have opened the door to a massive redevelopment effort that will eventually demolish all of the garden apartments here.

"It's like a disaster," says Heber Banegas, from Honduras. "I mean, you know, many families don't know where to go. I mean, this is their home."

Supporters say the plan calls for 800 units of dedicated affordable housing units, but opponents say that's little consolation for the thousands of families who currently live in the 2,500 units of market-rate affordable housing now.

"It destroyed what I planned, because I wanted to be stable here for about two years, but if this happens in the next year, this is not good for me. Not good," says Iraqi Salam Jawad.

City officials say they will do everything they can to make sure that residents who currently live in these apartments are able to stay, if they qualify for one of the dedicated units.

Demolition is slated to begin next year.

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