New ANC6B Chair Brian Ready Talks About Barracks Row, Homelessness & a Living Wage

Brian Ready, Chair of ANC6B

New ANC6B Chair Brian Ready Talks About Barracks Row, Homelessness & a Living Wage

By Larry Janezich

Brian Ready, newly elected chair of ANC6B, knows what he’s good at.  He says, “It’s having vision and solving problems.  When a challenge comes to me, I figure out a good way of solving the problem – balancing things out between two individuals, working impartially, taking both points of view into account to achieve an outcome which can be explained to both parties so they understand how the decision was reached.”

Ready, still in his first term as Commissioner, was elected Chair by acclamation last month after Chander Jayaraman decided to run for city council instead of seeking a second term as chair of 6B.  Jayaraman says, “Brian is the right person at the right time and has what we need – business acumen, creativity, and composure – to lead in 2020.”  Those qualities will be called upon as ANC6B addresses a host of issues during the coming year.

One of those issues is the economic viability of Barracks Row, the west side of which lies in Ready’s single member district.  As former chair – and current member – of ANC6B’s Barracks Row Working Group, Ready says we have to recognize that the challenges on Barracks Row are the same as the challenges in Adams Morgan, Georgetown, and multiple other locations in the city, and stem from increased competition like The Wharf and the Navy Yard.  He believes in a holistic approach to the quality of life problems on 8th Street, and a substantial advertising campaign to increase business.

Regarding those quality of life issues, Ready says we have to figure out how to establish a balance to assure patrons of Barracks Row that it’s a safe area where they won’t get accosted or impeded while addressing needs of panhandlers and our homeless residents.

Asked his thoughts on Community Connections’ role in the community, Ready said “Community Connections serves to help people who are homeless and if we say we don’t want to do that, it amounts to taking the problem and moving it somewhere else.”  He doesn’t think the ANC has the power to do fix homelessness.  The root of the problem, he says, lies in an economic system that has inequality built into it, and we have to accept that if we accept the system.  He says, “We just have to understand that this is how the system works – if we recognize what it is, we can better fix the things we don’t like about it.  “My friends think I’m the eternal optimist because I’m saying, ‘No, we can fix this – it’s not broken.’”

Ready grew up in the Chicago suburbs and left for one of the country’s top hospitality programs at the University of Las Vegas.  He has a degree in hospitality and a degree in law.  His first job out of college was with Deloitte – the multinational professional services network.  Then he worked in hospitality at MGM resorts – “I was responsible for booking all the entertainment at Primm Valley Resort’s 6000 seat arena and their 500 seat showroom and three entertainment lounges.”  It was in that role that he met show business legends Aretha Franklin, Donna Summer, Reba McIntyre, Brooks & Dunn, and Trace Adkins.

While at MGM he traveled a lot and found Washington “one of the nicest cities I’d ever been to,” and five years ago took an opportunity to transfer here to a new job with MGM. He said Capitol Hill was his first choice for a place to live and that his attraction to the neighborhood was the defining reason he wanted to move here.

Ready is not new to community service.  He served on the Board of Directors of the Down Syndrome Organization of Southern Nevada and was a volunteer at the Children’s Museum in Las Vegas.  Professionally, he belongs to the National Bar Association.  One of his heroes is Barack Obama, who he credits with inspiring him to run for office, get involved in the community, and help to make it better in any way possible. He praises DC Council Chair Phil Mendelsohn’s calm and collected demeanor in presiding over the council as well as Charles Allen, for whom he went door-to-door in the last campaign.  Ready says, “In a community I really love, I wanted to contribute and help make it be all it could be by becoming an ANC Commissioner. It’s the most rewarding job I’ve ever had, even if we don’t get paid.”

One of the things he’s passionate about is advocating for a living wage.  He says, “The District has a high minimum wage, which is great, but there are still low wages in this area where the cost of living is high.  I ask, ‘Where do they live – hospitality is the number two job creator in our area, so where do they [hospitality workers] live? They can’t even afford to live in our scariest neighborhoods.  I’m saying that if you can’t provide a wage where a minimum of 50% of your staff can rent or buy in the city, you should not operate.”

He has other passions, including kites. “I love the Kite Festival coming up.  In Vegas we actually had a park where kite enthusiasts come every week to do sport kiting and tricks. I look forward to going to the National Mall in March and flying a kite.”  Working out is another passion and he works out at Sport & Health 4 or 5 days a week.   Ready is also a musician – he plays violin and percussion – another of his heroes is a high school music teacher who recruited him for the school’s marching band.

Ready says he’s working on a list of goals for his term of office, but for now wants to focus on “absorbing the information coming at me and getting it down and keeping everything together.”  He says that as Chair, he’ll continue the commitment he made when he ran for the ANC – to check his ANC email account every day and respond to every email within 24 hours.


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7 responses to “New ANC6B Chair Brian Ready Talks About Barracks Row, Homelessness & a Living Wage

  1. “Regarding those quality of life issues, Ready says we have to figure out how to establish a balance to assure patrons of Barracks Row that it’s a safe area where they won’t get accosted or impeded while addressing needs of panhandlers and our homeless residents.”

    Well, I suppose you could shut down the 7-11 as a nuisance property because it’s been one since the 1980s, but what’s the likelihood of that happening?

    • Kim Hawkins

      Quality of life? Last week there were 2 stabbings and one robbery on 8th Street. We have moved past our issues being labeled “quality of life issues”.
      The public also needs to remember that the small businesses have to pay the higher minimum wage too which bumps up all the other salaries as well and is an increase in our cost. So the next time you ask a small store to meet an on line or big box stores price, remember they don’t pay the higher wages that we do.
      The best way to keep small businesses open on Barracks Row is for the local community to support them. We can’t survive on “oh i just need a small bag until my on line order comes in“ or better yet “do you have any free samples i can have until my on line order comes in”.

  2. Jimmy

    Just more whistling past the graveyard as Barracks Row crumbles. The community worked hard to build it up to a destination and Community Connections, Charles Allen and the MPD have left Barracks Row to rot. I certainly don’t go there to eat anymore and I live a couple of blocks away.

  3. Rick

    One of his goals for the year would be to connect with his constituents. He’s my neighborhood’s ANC rep and I don’t know anyone who has heard a peep from him before or after he was elected. He may have his own ideas of problems and solutions but he’s our representative and should be spending more time finding out what his district is concerned about.

  4. This Guy Again

    There is no way Barracks Row will continue to be a viable business district if you /literally/ have to run a gauntlet of menacing aggressive panhandlers just to get from the Eastern Market Metro to the restaurants and shops. And then you have to fight your way through them on the way back. I live a block away and it’s gotten demonstrably worse in the last year or so. I don’t think it’s the competition from Navy Yard and The Wharf as much as that simple fact, and no one /does/ anything except spout the same boilerplate crap. Charles Allen talks a lot but does literally nothing about the problem. Same with people jumping turnstiles every morning right in front of the Metro workers and even police. Talk is cheap.

  5. Psupanda

    Panhandlers are driving away business and creating an atmosphere for crime. Plain and simple. They are not residents of this neighborhood, they take the bus to get here. Brian needs to stop trying to give them the same voice as the constituents he represents.

  6. ET

    They really do need to figure a way to make that block of 8th just south of Penn less crazy. The Penn and 8th area is weirdly configured and it feels like it generally needs a big rethink. I know there is the overall EM plan, but too many people want things to change but at the same time don’t want to change some things. The issues here seem to require a number of things done at the same time.

    The east side of the street isn’t fabulous, but the bus stops are not at that corner and since the firehouse and the fact that there are fewer business it seems a lot less challenged all the way around.

    I can’t help but feel that on the west side that there may be too much activity for that one block that really isn’t all that large. Outside of the homeless that gather around there, there are several buses that stop which accounts for a lot of the people. Then there are multiple quick stop places like Starbucks, Popeye’s, Chipotle, two pizza places, and the obnoxious 7-11. Maybe moving/changing what buses stop where won’t make much difference, but why not try that as one part of trying to alleviate the issues.