The population of Chinese Americans in Chinatown has shrunk from a high of 3,000 to about 300 — half of whom are now fighting to be able to stay.
It was about a year ago that residents of Tang’s apartment complex, Museum Square, received demolition notices. The building houses roughly half of Chinatown’s remaining Chinese community, and although many could not read what was written in the English-language letters from the building’s owner, their African American neighbors helped them to understand: The building’s Section 8 contract was due to expire, and the owner planned to demolish their tawny home to make way for a new development .
The tenants and the D.C. Council are embroiled in a legal battle with the landlord, Virginia-based Bush Companies. While they await a court decision about how much it would cost them to buy Museum Square for themselves, Tang and her neighbors are restless. They find it difficult to grasp that they might have to move away in October.
“Even though it’s not Chinatown anymore,” Tang says, “we still want to stay here. Where we feel safe.”