- A pre-earthquake shot of one of the Ella Jo Co-op buildings.
Most D.C. buildings escaped any real damage when the East Coast earthquake struck last month, but the Ella Jo Baker International Community Cooperative was not so lucky. The 15-unit affordable housing co-op in Columbia Heights suffered $15,000 in structural and cosmetic damage during the August 23 quake; three co-op members in especially hard-hit units have been displaced from their homes.
"There's structural damage to the exterior of the building where bricks separated," says Parisa Norouzi, executive director of Empower D.C., and a co-op member. "The earthquake also shook the hot water heater loose, and it flooded parts of all of the floors. We had to rip out the carpets and replace the subfloor, and parts of the drywall as well."
Norouzi says that the co-op members are on the hook for raising repair funds. "Unfortunately, none of us have earthquake insurance out here on the east coast, and because we're an affordable housing co-op of community activists and other people of limited means we don’t have huge surplus."
So, the co-op is throwing a dance party. The show goes down this Friday, Sept. 16th at Ras on Georgia Avenue, NW. There will be live music by Black King Soul, Marlee In The Mix, The Lurk, Goldin Girl Tribe, and 431. DJs RBI and Mista Selecta will spin. There is a suggested donation of $5-10 per person, but no one will be turned away at the door.
The Carryout Productions throws Uptown Friday Nights at Ras every week, typically with money collected at the door benefiting various non-profits and general good causes. "We were lucky to be able to get a spot relatively quickly, we're really excited about it," Norouzi says.
"Of the three people displace, two are seniors, and one has serious health concerns," she continues. "So we really want to get them back into their apartments as soon as possible."
Those who can't come out on Friday, but want to contribute to the repair fund can make donations through Norouzi, who can be reached at Empower DC, 1419 V St, NW, 202-234-9119, parisa@ empowerdc.org. Checks payable to the Ella Jo Baker Co-op.