Rachel Malis

Rachel Malis and her partner moved into a townhouse across the street from the Potomac Gardens Public Housing Project despite being told by colleagues that the neighborhood wasn’t safe.  Beyond the theft of a package delivered to her doorstep, Rachel has not faced much in the way of danger in the neighborhood.  Below are clips we conducted of her in 2013.

In this segment, Rachel talks about her general impressions of Potomac Gardens, why she thinks some of her neighbors don’t appreciate it and why she thinks it should remain.


Rachel talks about the convenience of living on Capitol Hill.


Rachel talks about what she’d heard about Potomac Gardens before she moved just a few blocks away and how living in the neighborhood turned out to be. Her biggest concern was crime but life across from the Gardens hasn’t lived up to the danger-filled hype.


Rachel talks about why she and her boyfriend moved to the neighborhood. After living for a year in an expensive gated community where their car was broken into twice, a townhouse across the street from Potomac Gardens didn’t seem so bad.


Rachel talks about how she interacts with the public housing residents on Capitol Hill. Turns out human interactions are the same everywhere.


What do we know about the history of the neighborhoods that we live in? Rachel knows that the fences around Potomac Gardens weren’t always there. She also knows that historically, physical barriers have long been put into place to keep the District of Columbia segregated.


Will Rachel and her boyfriend be able to afford to stay in the District of Columbia if they decide to start a family? Probably not.


Rachel talks about diversity and segregation in the District of Columbia. Is the city diverse or is it segregated? Both. Neighborhoods like Hill East around Potomac Gardens, do in fact have a mix of people, but will the diversity last as more folks with money move in?


Rachel believes that more development, like restaurants, bars a farmer’s market, etc., would bring more folks from other areas into the neighborhood. She hopes that like her, they’d learn to recognize that Potomac Gardens isn’t big and scary. But she also recognizes that this kind of development would also raise her rent and everyone else’s.


Rachel grew up in a Connecticut suburb where a lack of affordable housing and food deserts were common. In this way, her hometown was similar to the District of Columbia. Her Russian and Ukrainian parents worked hard to make ends meet.


Having grown up in a Connecticut suburb not far from New York City, Rachel talks about some of the differences between her home town and the District of Columbia.