Zein El-Amine, a poet and lecturer at the University of Maryland, was teaching when the Aug. 23 quake rocked the region. When he returned home, bricks from his rowhouse were scattered across the pavement, and the outside of the building was plastered with yellow tape.
The Columbia Heights building was condemned by the fire department: El-Amine only had 30 minutes to grab some belongings that night.
His unit is one of three in the rowhouse, itself part of the Ella Jo Baker Intentional Community Cooperative, which he joined in 2003. The cooperative, named for a longtime civil rights leader, operates as a limited-equity entity providing affordable housing to low-income renters. All members have to meet the low- to moderate-income restriction to live in a unit.
The co-op owns six rowhouses in Columbia Heights, all within a minute’s walk of each other.