MORE OF THE SAME: 7 more income-capped housing projects planned for Ward 8

THEIR ANNOUNCEMENT
 

DHCD Seeks Offers to Transform Vacant Ward 8 Sites into Affordable Housing

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Sites Provide Opportunities for Affordable [Income-Capped] Homeownership, Rental Projects

(Washington, DC) –The DC Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) has released Solicitations for Offers (SFOs) to transform several sites in the Ward 8 neighborhoods of Anacostia and Congress Heights into affordable [Income-Capped] housing for District residents.

“Mayor Bowser charged me to take aggressive steps to dispose of DHCD-owned vacant and blighted property, so they can be transformed into more affordable [Income-Capped] housing for individuals and families,” said DHCD Director Polly Donaldson. “We are meeting this mandate through an active solicitation process and initiatives like Vacant to Vibrant DC.”

Through the SFOs, DHCD is seeking proposals to build affordable [Income-Capped] housing designated toward households making no more than $93,760 (80 percent of the 2018 Median Family Income [MFI] for a family of four), at the following sites:

The SFOs note that successful proposals are those that:

  • maximize affordability across multiple income levels, but targeting at least half of units to households at or below $58,600 (50 percent MFI);
  • commit to long-term or permanent affordability—to include at least 40 years for rental units;
  • include two and three bedroom units;
  • provide job creation for District residents, and opportunities for Small Business Enterprises (SBEs) and Certified Business Enterprises (CBEs); and
  • have quality design that complements the neighborhood’s architecture.

The deadline for submitting proposals is October 29, 2018. Pre-Bid meetings will be held at 10:00 a.m. at DHCD’s Housing Resource Center, 1800 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. SE on August 29 for the Greater Congress Heights sites and August 30 for the Anacostia sites.

Visit https://octo.quickbase.com/db/bktkegi66 to request access in order to submit a proposal for the sites.

For additional information and questions, visit http://dhcd.dc.gov/service/property-acquisition-and-disposition or contact padd.sfo@dc.gov.

Bowser Administration’s Commitment to Affordable Housing
Since coming into office, the Administration of Mayor Muriel Bowser has sparked the creation or preservation of more than 10,800 affordable units, with another 5,200 in pre-construction. Earlier this year, the administration announced the sale of over 30 District-owned vacant properties that will be transformed into affordable housing. The properties were sold in an auction as part of Vacant to Vibrant DC—a program announced December 2017 to turn the balance of DHCD-owned inventory into vibrant and productive solutions.

 

MY RESPONSE

Ward 8 seeks an opportunity to have more than just one grocery store, a failing hospital, two sit-down restaurants and few jobs  

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I really shouldn't be surprised by DHCD's announcement but I am still disappointed. And on the heels of my latest editorial, "Why investing ONLY in income-capped housing in Ward 8 is setting us up for failure," I am also frustrated. And through the lens that I have been trying in vain to find jobs for several unemployed east of the river residents (who would most likely have to commute west of the river to work) I am mad as hell!

  • There are not one but TWO stadiums in Navy Yard and they are located within less than a mile of one other
     
  • The Wharf was built in what feels like a fortnight and has more amenities than Disneyland
     
  • The Capital Riverfront has more sit-down restaurants on a single block than we have in all of Ward 8
     
  • Capitol Hill & Navy Yard has more full-service grocery stores than all of Ward 7 and 8 combined
     
  • Ward 8 currently has not a single mid to large size apartment building that doesn't have some kind of income cap. Almost all (if not all) of the apartment complexes in Ward 8 have income caps. We do not have significant numbers of rental housing for a single person making over $45,000 a year or a couple making $55,000 combined. The income caps for an 80% AMI income-capped project (which Ward 8 rarely gets) have income limits for FY2018 at $54,250 for a single person household and $62,000 for a 2 person household. 

In a community with such high unemployment rates that desperately needs residents with the disposable income to invest in the Ward 8 economy to create some jobs, we don't have the rental housing for working class DC residents who want to live here. 

Imagine the possibilities if:

  • The teachers who taught in Ward 8 schools lived in the same community as their students
  • The officers who patroled our streets lived next to the citizens they swore to protect and serve
  • That nurses, doctors and mental health professionals experienced the same reality as their patients
  • That HBCU alumni and professsors lived in the neighborhoods that could use positive Black role models

That's what we are missing out on by investing ONLY in income-capped rental housing and not having any (or not enough) workforce or rental housing free of income caps. We aren't trying to be the next Shaw or U Street but we do need to have some various income levels in the community in order to be able to have more than one grocery store.

And at a time when west of the river continuous to flourish and prosper, Ward 8 continues to struggle economically. DHCD announces a request for Solicitations For Offers (SFOs) to bring SEVEN more income-capped housing projects to the most under-resourced section of the city and we are supposed to get up and cheer? Per DHCD's announcement, they are requesting "at least half of units to households at or below $58,600 (50 percent MFI)" *BTW that $58,600 number is for a family of FOUR.

Let's break down what the income caps look like, these figures are from HUD and represent the income cap limits for FY2018. 

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For a 50% MFI project the household in those units can NOT have a combined income higher than the following based on the number of people in that household:

  • 1 person - $41,050
  • 2 people (such as a married couple) - $46,900
  • 3 people - $52,750
  • 4 people - $58,600
  • 5 people - $63,300
  • 6 people - $68,000
  • 7 people - $72,700
  • 8 people - $77,400

This isn't to provide low-income housing for just Ward 8 residents, this is housing to move low-income residents from other parts of DC into Ward 8. Let's not get it twisted. 

The vast majority of income-capped housing projects in Ward 8 are at the 50% or 30% AMI levels. FYI - the lower the AMI/FMI of the project,  the more funding/financing the developer qualifies for which explains why we don't see more 80% or higher income-restricted housing east of the river. And since the land is cheaper east of the river, this is where most income-restricted projects end up. Anacostia residents have been fighting a losing battle with DC government for years to at least raise the levels of their upcoming projects to 80%. Interesting fact, Anacostia does not have a single mid to large size apartment building now or in the pipeline that doesn't have some kind of an income cap. And as far as I know, the same can be said for Congress Heights. 

TO BE CLEAR, I AM NOT AT ALL SAYING THAT THERE ISN'T A NEED FOR INCOME-CAPPED HOUSING (RENTAL OR HOMEOWNERSHIP) IN DC BUT WHY DOES IT SEEM LIKE THE MAJORITY OF IT ONLY GOES TO UNDER-RESOURCED AND BLACK NEIGHBORHOODS AND AT THE VERY EDGES OF DC AND FAR FROM LIVING WAGE JOBS?

Is everyone really blind to the fact that Ward 8 still has only has one full-service grocery store to serve over 72,000 residents? That Ward 8 has one failing hospital (that isn't even legally allowed to deliver babies) and the lowest income levels in the entire city? We have the highest unemployment rates in the city with the fewest jobs because retailers and businesses say we don't have the income levels necessary to justify opening a location here.

And despite your feelings about Walmart, west of the river has several and the proposed east of the river location was added last and was later cancelled by Walmart because it wasn't "economically feasible." Despite decades of planning and press releases, Skyland is still nothing more than a hole in the ground. Are we going to really pretend that Ward 8 hasn't always come in last in terms of priorities? We continue to look from the sidelines at what always seems to be outside of our reach -- like a quality full-service grocery store. 

Ward 8 residents, adults and children alike are dying in the streets in part because of a lack of resources or the fight over limited resources. When there are few LEGAL opportunities to earn a living, is it any wonder some members of the community resort to crimes such as robbery and drug dealing? Crimes that lead to felonies that make people even more unemployable, trapped in a cycle of poverty. Generational poverty comes about by generations of neglect and flawed policies. It's not accidental, it's strategic. 

And knowing that, people who are tasked with "community development" think the answer to Ward 8's many economic and social challenges is to invest in SEVEN more income-restricted housing in Anacostia and Congress Heights? Why not Navy Yard or Capitol Hill, neighborhoods that have many more resources, better schools, jobs and high priced condos and apartment buildings?! Neighborhoods with residents who have the high income levels that could stand to be balanced out with DC residents with lower incomes. I think these neighborhoods could really benefit from some more income-capped housing to ensure the community remains diverse and inclusive.

And knowing this, Ward 8 residents are really supposed to believe that DC government is really invested in our success? We are supposed to believe that DC really thinks it's a priority to bring significant economic development, amenities, grocery stores, well-paying jobs and a hospital to Ward 8? How? With pixie dust? A magic wand?! Can someone please call Harry Potter because we need an economic development Patronus on the double! The Dementors are out here and they are WINNING!  The only thing bigger than their smiles are their ribbon cutting scissors. 

 Courtesy of Pottermore

Courtesy of Pottermore

Where is the City Council on this? Why are there no hearings on the practice of placing income-capped housing far from basic resources and amenities? Where are the news stories? Who is  making sure there is a balance? Why aren't there marches to stop the economic and social segregation that we experience on a daily basis? Why won't someone at least give Ward 8 residents the common decency to look us in the eyes and tell us the truth? That east of the river is an afterthought, the outer rim of DC and the plan (intentional or not) is to push anything and anyone that doesn't fit the mold of "fresh and hip" to the edges of the city limits.

And if that's not true, why doesn't the council pass emergency legislation that says that income-restricted housing projects have be be located within 1 mile of a full-service grocery store, basic services, jobs, amneties and a well-performing school? If they did, I bet you Ward 8 would get that second grocery store a lot faster.

Jesus take the wheel, drive me to Navy Yard so I can buy some aspirin and a breakfast burrito. While I'm there, I will continue to observe the quality of life that my neighbors and I can only dream about, like more than one place to buy groceries.