Saturday, November 20, 2010

Martinez Sisters- St. Dennis Apartments, DC

I recently photographed the groundbreaking event for refurbishing the St. Dennis Apartments in Washington DC, which were saved by the tenacity of two Martinez sisters, and their mother. I was working on assignment for Enterprise Community Partners, which provided aid and financial expertise to the effort.

from press reports:
The Martinez family refused to move from their apartment on Kenyon Street NW, Washington DC, in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood, when the previous owner emptied the
building through poor management and "buy-offs," in order to convert it into
market-rate condominiums. Eva Martinez and her two daughters, Eva Aurora and Anabel, remained the lone tenants in the building for more than two years, enduring broken doors and windows, demolition crews, unlit hallways, and other hazards all because of
their staunch belief that low income people deserved the right to remain in the
Mt. Pleasant neighborhood. With the assistance of pro-bono counsel, the Martinez's filed several suits against the owner for failure to comply with D.C.'s right of first purchase law. They secured a settlement that included the option to purchase the property at market value and chose the National Housing Trust-Enterprise Preservation Corporation (NHT/Enterprise) to assist in securing the financing to acquire and renovate the property. Low income families, many of whom had endured deplorable living conditions at the property, will soon be able to enjoy fully renovated, energy efficient affordable apartments. The preservation and renovation of the St. Dennis was made possible due to the tenacity of the Martinez family who refused to be forced from their neighborhood.

Pictured are Eva Aurora and Anabel Martinez. Their tenacious mother passed away before this dream became a reality, but her daughters and others will benefit from her strength.

The print of the Last Supper was one of the few objects left in their apartment after the previous owner had emptied the building.

A 2008 Washington Post article about their story is at:

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