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Economy and development have increased emptying of DC houses of worship

Washington Post: “For decades, changes in American religious behavior and the District’s demographics spurred a slow emptying of city houses of worship. And in recent years, many have shuttered, largely because of skyrocketing real estate prices, an exodus of African Americans from the city and millennials’ desire for unusual abodes. But how great is the loss, and how much does it really matter? The year-old nonprofit Sacred Spaces Conservancy has started quantifying the disappearance of houses of worship in the District’s most intensely developed neighborhoods, where the buildings are rapidly being torn down or converted into housing, especially around H Street NE. Using city data, the group has found that between 2008 and 2018, Capitol Hill has lost about 40 percent of buildings owned by congregations of various faith backgrounds and used regularly for worship. The group’s incomplete research estimates Shaw-Bloomingdale has lost about 30 percent of such buildings, and the entire city may have lost around 25 percent.

To Sacred Spaces, and some researchers of civic life, these buildings have abundant spiritual and communal value, making their decline a cause for alarm. They have pointed to research suggesting places of worship generate the equivalent of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars apiece in savings annually through the services they offer the community, including help for the poor and below-market rental rates for community groups…”

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