To understand the hold that poverty has had on the Kenilworth-Parkside community, you need to start with a map. The Ward 7 neighborhoods in this roughly one-and-a-half mile slice of Washington, DC, are boxed in by the Anacostia River on the west and Route 295 on the east. A decommissioned power plant blocks off the southwest side.
Once a working-class black community, Kenilworth-Parkside began to decline after the freeway was built in the 1950s, cutting residents off from the rest of the city, as well as from jobs, resources, and economic opportunities.
“This is a one-way-in, one-way-out neighborhood,” said Ronneca Coley, 40, who has lived in Kenilworth for five years. “You pretty much have to take a bus everywhere you go around here. If you have to go grocery shopping, you have to get on a bus. . . . It’s hard. I can do it, but it’s hard.”