Every county in America is facing an affordable housing crisis. Nationally, a wage of $20.30 per hour is needed to rent a two-bedroom apartment. That’s 2.8 minimum wage full-time jobs. In the District of Columbia, you need to make $31.21 an hour. That’s the second highest rate in the country.

Ave, 37, didn’t have a choice: live in Barry Farm public housing or barely survive moving from street to street. She lost her job, and her husband was recently incarcerated. She stood outside the Gallery Place Metro Station holding up a cardboard sign with her eight children. In good times, they had enough to rent a hotel room. In bad times, they slept in a van on the streets.

The house in Barry Farm - she recalled - was already falling apart when she met with the landlord. The floors were decaying, the kitchen stove didn’t work, electricity was scant. But she feared if she didn’t get the house, she would have to wait on an endless waiting list. Eventually, the Marshall’s moved to Sumner Road next door to the Weary’s, a family who lived in Barry Farm for three generations. Currently, 47,000 families are on a closed waiting list to receive affordable housing in D.C. Some have waited over 25 years, yet affordable, public housing continues to be demolished. Barry Farm - the first African American home-owning community in the District - is one of the largest public housing complexes in D.C. Under the 2005 New Communities Initiative, it is one of the next affordable housing communities to be demolished.

“We’re going to move out,” says George Weary, 12. “We just don’t know when.”

Today, families live in limbo. The homes are falling apart, but with no set demolition date and little to no affordable housing elsewhere in the District, families hesitate to move out. This is the Barry Farm story. Barry Farm is a black and white photo essay and website that documents Barry Farm residents and the world they’ve created for themselves while living on hold. The interactive website documents the legacy of discriminatory urban renewal policies in America. Dignified 4x5 film portraits will give a personal face to the issues of “public housing.” Using cinema verite, Barry Farm (the documentary), will intimately follow one teen’s pursuit to college while facing the burdens of poverty, crime, and challenges in the classroom.

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