Housing Was in Full Bloom in June
As published in the July 2017 DHCD Connection Newsletter
District Agencies Celebrated Successes
For the second year in a row, Mayor Bowser shown a spotlight on the District’s affordable housing and community development successes, during June Housing Bloom. Over 100 events were held by DHCD, other housing agencies and community partners in this month-long celebration. For example, we held a Saturday College on housing rules for landlords, tenants and realtors on June 3. A week later, we sponsored a FamilyFest at Greenleaf Recreation Center in Ward 6, where kids learned about healthy eating tips and persons of all ages received information on District housing, financial and other resources. Toward the end of the month, in addition to the Housing Expo and Scissors and Shovels events discussed below, we also held a hearing on our Annual Action Plan to get community feedback.
Record 6,000+ Registered for 9th Annual DC Housing Expo and Home Show
In its ninth year, the DC Housing Expo and Home Show was bigger and better than ever. Over 6,000 persons—a record number—registered for the event, which featured over 150 housing-related exhibits, including a popular “tiny home” that attendees could walk through. We offered over 20 workshops; some classes, like on inclusionary zoning and home purchase assistance, had standing-room-only crowds. The aroma of freshly cooked salmon filled the air thanks to celebrity chefs who gave healthy cooking demonstrations, seniors played bingo, and a lively crowd near the stage enjoyed vying for prizes and giveaways. Our keynote speaker was Mayor Bowser, who highlighted her administration’s progress on affordable housing projects and noted: “We have a lot of housing resources available in the District, and through events like the Housing Expo we’re working to make sure people know about them.”
On June 23, Shovel in One Hand, Scissors in Another
We joined Mayor Bowser on June 23 for Scissors and Shovels 2.0, a one-day flurry of affordable housing groundbreakings and ribbon cuttings throughout the District. The day started with the mayor breaking ground on a 19-unit affordable housing building at 4000 Kansas Avenue, NW in Ward 4. Next stop was the ribbon cutting for the historic Phyllis Wheatley YWCA at 901 Rhode Island Avenue, NW in Ward 6. This property was renovated and reconfigured into 84 units of permanent supportive housing for formerly homeless women. Director Donaldson and Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development Brian Kenner ended the day with a ribbon cutting ceremony for Bowen Flats, a new 41-unit affordable housing project in Ward 8. During her remarks, Donaldson noted how, at “no time in our District’s history have we invested more and housed more residents in a two-year period—and we’re not slowing down anytime soon.”
Making the Dream of Affordable Homeownership Possible
In June, Jackie Clauss experienced one of the most memorable moments of her life when she became a first-time homeowner. “My three kids and I are forever grateful,” said Clauss, a D.C. Public Schools teacher. “My family was blessed with a home. It was a long way, but we got there.”
Clauss purchased her first home through the District’s inclusionary zoning Program, which offers eligible households an opportunity to purchase or rent an affordable housing unit through a lottery process. She also was a recipient of down payment and closing cost assistance through the District’s Home Purchase Assistance Program (HPAP).
“I appreciate the different parts involved in the process to make this happen,” said Clauss. “[DHCD has] made the dream of affordable homeownership possible.”
Innovative Strategies and Projects Result in Awards, Accolades
The District’s multi-pronged approach to housing production and preservation, homeownership, and development of vacant properties is winning national recognition. DHCD was announced on April 28 as a finalist for the Urban Land Institute’s Larson Housing Policy Leadership Award. This annual award, provided by ULI’s Terwilliger Center for Housing, recognizes innovative ways the public sector is addressing the nation’s affordable housing crisis. The winner will be announced in September.
Three affordable housing projects that received DHCD financing recently received accolades:
- The Washington Business Journal honored The Beacon Center, a 99-unit mixed-use project at 6100 Georgia Avenue NW, and the John and Jill Ker Conway Residence, a 124-unit project at 1005 North Capitol Street NE, as standouts for the best 25 real estate deals for 2016.
- The Conway Residence also received the 2017 Urban Land Institute’s (ULI) Washington TRENDS Award for Excellence in Housing Development.
- The Girard Street Senior Apartments was awarded best small affordable housing project by the Housing Association of Nonprofit Developers.
On a related note, Director Donaldson was honored to represent the District during the Daniel Rose Fellowship study tour of Seattle and Alaska this spring.
Springing Into Step: Expanding Affordable Housing, Transforming Vacant Properties
This spring and early summer, we were pleased to announce news on several projects that will provide over 100 units of affordable housing to District residents:
- Six District-owned properties in Historic Anacostia were awarded to Mi Casa and Development Corporation of Columbia Heights to produce family-style affordable housing units.
- Flywheel Development LLC and Neighborhood Development Company will construct 40 new townhomes on vacant property in Wards 7 and 8.
- HPTF financing will preserve affordable rental units in Wards 1 and 8: (1) So Others Might Eat (SOME) will be able to provide supportive services for 36 families thanks to $4.9 million in HPTF financing that will preserve rental housing in Ward 1; and (2) the United 2nd Street Tenants Association and Mi Casa received $2.6 million in HPTF funding under the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA) to acquire and preserve 25 rental units in Ward 8.
- Over $5 million in HPTF funding will help preserve nearly 100 affordable housing units in Wards 5 and 7: (1) Housing Up received funding to rehabilitate Hedin House, a 48-unit apartment building in Ward 5; and (2) Residence at Minnesota Gardens Cooperative Inc. received funding for the acquisition and preservation of 48 affordable housing units in Ward 7.
And more is to come. Our Spring 2017 funding notice and request for proposals (RFP) recently closed and proposals that will produce and preserve more affordable housing units are now being evaluated.