After arming his security system, peeking through his blinds, and turning on all the downstairs lights in his new rowhouse, 28-year-old Fairfield, Connecticut native and current H Street area homeowner Brett Carrington on Sunday expressed his considerable pride to be living in such a diverse and vibrant neighborhood. “I love H Street and everything it stands for,” Carrington told a high school friend over the phone. “There’s so much history here, so many different kinds of people living together as one community. It’s really up and coming. In just a few years, this is going to be a great place to live and own property, and I’m proud to be a part of that.”
Carrington, who makes sure to leave his watch behind whenever he leaves his home in the evenings, moved to 11th Street NE last February when he used funds his grandmother left him to purchase a rowhouse “as an investment.” Since that time, the PR professional has frequently boasted to his friends and colleagues about how exciting and gratifying it is to live in such a “colorful” neighborhood, going so far as to chide them for not being more “adventurous” themselves.
“Brett loves his new home,” said co-worker Lindsey Marks. “He’s always telling us about how awesome it is to live in the real DC, and he’s always trying to get us to meet him at Toki Underground on the weekends. He tells us not to worry because we’ll be with a local.”
Since closing on his home, Carrington has taken an interest in neighborhood politics, particularly safety and crime issues. He has recently started commenting on popular local blog PoPville, a site whose reports of shootings and robberies in his home’s vicinity send chills down his spine. “Mayor Bowser and Police Chief Lanier need to do more to protect District residents,” said Carrington, who is still registered to vote in Connecticut. “People shouldn’t have to feel threatened in their own neighborhoods.”
The Connecticut native says he doesn’t care for the term gentrification, preferring to call the ongoing social process “community development” or simply “progress.” And, though he’s seldom seen alone on H Street after dark, he maintains he’s not concerned about the destitute street dwellers often found along the corridor, adding that he never “encourages” panhandlers by giving them money or food. “It’s just a matter of time,” Carrington repeated several times.
Carrington, who noted that his favorite professor at Brown was black, vehemently dismisses insinuations that he harbors racial prejudice. “Look, it’s easy to sit on the other side of the park among your own kind and throw stones at the people brave enough to live over here,” counters Carrington. “You just know the same naysayers are going to want to live in my neighborhood in five years when it’s nice.” When told that some members of his own beloved H Street community have expressed such opinions, Carrington frowned and said “that’s unfortunate,” adding “it’s sad that some around here feel uncomfortable living with different kinds of people.” He then asked: “Was it the old guy on the corner who’s always on his porch? He’s really unfriendly.”
While Carrington’s pride in the rapidly changing H Street area is evident, conversations with some of his neighbors reveal that that pride may not be entirely reciprocal. Sources within the neighborhood report that Carrington reflexively places his hand against his wallet when he passes certains members of his new community, angering some. “That boy’s going to strain his neck if he keeps looking behind him all the time,” added Mary Wendell, who lives across the street. When asked for further comment, Rudolph Holmes, a longtime resident who lives two doors down from Carrington, said he wasn’t sure which one Carrington was, noting that it’s difficult to put a face to a name when a person never introduces themselves.