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Striving for Affordable Housing
WIN has been organizing on the issue of affordable housing since its founding in the mid-1990’s. When Rufaro Jenkins, a leader at Brighter Day UMC & former tenant of Parkway Overlook Apartments asked, “Raise your hand if you or someone you know is struggling to find affordable housing in DC”, at an action, every hand in the building rose.
In our fight for affordable housing we have three main goals:
Goal 1: Completing 1,000+ units of affordable housing in the WIN pipeline
WIN is focused on completing the development and preservation of over 1,000+ units of affordable housing in the WIN pipeline. UrbanMatters Development Partners LLC (“UrbanMatters”), WIN’s affiliated affordable housing developer, will produce a significant number of these units. Our organizing of tenant and community leaders to politically support affordable housing development and preservation will help create others.
Eastbrooke Apartments | COMPLETED!
On September 25th, 2015, UrbanMatters and WIN held a packed-out ceremony to celebrate the opening of 39 affordable apartments homes called the Eastbrooke at Beulah Crossing! Where a blighted lot was an eyesore in the Deanwood Heights community for decades, there are now beautiful 1, 2 and 3 bedroom affordable apartment homes with modern kitchens, a community room with free wi-fi , and a library, gym and business center for resident use. The project was financed with Low Income Housing Tax Credits, tax exempt bonds, private financing, and a District affordable housing investment.
Emory Beacon Center | UNDER CONSTRUCTION!
A mixed-use development project of the Emory Beacon of Light in the Brightwood neighborhood with 99 units of affordable housing units (91 for families and 8 for permanent supportive housing). WIN organized to support the project at the Historic Preservation Review Board after the site was declared historic. The project was ultimately approved and expected to have a 2016 groundbreaking.
Covenant Full Potential Center
UrbanMatters and WIN-member Covenant Baptist UCC are driving the development of 30 units of senior housing and community space in Ward 8. They are currently applying for funding from the Housing Production Trust Fund, a funding source that WIN organized around the 2014 Mayor’s race.
Parkway Overlook | FUNDED!
WIN has been organizing to preserve 200+ units of low income housing at Parkway Overlook in Ward 8 located across the street from WIN-member Brighter Day Ministries’ A.P. Shaw Campus. WIN is working with former tenants to ensure that resident ideas are incorporated into the site plan, the project is funded, and renovations will begin in 2016/2017.
Wards 1 & 4
Leaders from All Souls Church Unitarian, St. Augustine Catholic Church, St. Stephen Episcopal Church, and Sacred Heart Catholic Church began building relationships across race and class with tenants from 9 apartment buildings. Their purpose is to press for the preservation and construction of affordable housing in their area. Their group gathering in July 2016 had 88 congregation members and tenants.
Brightwood Project | COMPLETED!
WIN and UrbanMatters celebrated the groundbreaking in April 2015 of the Brightwood Portfolio, a $32.2M development of 140 affordable apartments comprised of the Concord, Valencia and Vizcaya Apartment buildings. The Brightwood Tenants’ Association had exercised their TOPA rights to prevent the sale of these affordable housing apartments and chose UrbanMatters as its partner to become the redeveloper and owner of their buildings. Substantial rehabilitation is now underway on the existing 130 apartments. The plan includes an additional 10 units in the basements, as well as a new community room, computer room, and exercise room. There will be new and on-site supportive services, including after school tutoring, financial literacy courses, and health and wellness training. The units are off 14th Street NW on a major bus line.
John and Jill Kerr Conway Residence/North Capitol Commons | COMPLETED!
WIN participated at the groundbreaking for North Capitol Commons (N. Capitol and K Street NW). This new complex is a 124 unit development: 60 units to house homeless veterans and 64 units affordable at 60% AMI. WIN organized for the dedication of the land to permanent supportive housing, defended the federal allocation for capital funds, and supported the nal land disposition.
Homestead Apartments | RENOVATIONS IN PROGRESS!
UrbanMatters has worked with apartment residents to complete a TOPA tenant purchase of their building to preserve 55 units of affordable housing right off Georgia Avenue. The project is now at the financing stage.
Langston/Slater Schools (Ward 5)
WIN is pushing for this public land to be put up for a RFP for development of affordable housing.
In December of 2008 the Temple Courts building on 33K street NW was demolished. Residents were promised that the site would be rebuilt and that they would get to move into a brand new facility. However, after 8 years of waiting the lot is still undeveloped. Instead parking lo sits where housing should stand. After years of the former tenants and WIN leaders pressing, the District has finally re-tarted the proceedings to redevelop the lot. In 2016 WIN restarted organizing residents and nearby congregation members around the development plans, holding a 200-person action making demands of Councilmember Allen and others. In 2017 they have tuned out to many community meetings to shape the development. The struggle continues as leaders fight to maintain their voice at the table and to get a shovel in the ground.
1125 Spring Road NW/Old Hebrew Home | DEVELOPER SELECTED!
Since it’s closure in 2009, the lot has lain vacant. Almost a decade ago WIN leaders recognized the sites’ great potential for affordable housing, and for many years WIN was unsuccessful in getting it redeveloped. However, in the spring of 2016 the District renewed its interest in developing the site. In response, WIN has organized local congregation members to weigh in on demanding that affordable housing is maximized on this site, and that there is deep affordability for minimum wage families. During a 200 person action on June 7th, 2016, WIN leaders pressed Ward 1 Councilmember Brianne Nadeau to help ensure there will be maximum community input in the process.
Kingston Apartments (Ward 4 Brightwood) | FUNDED!
23 units of TOPA preservation.
With Phase I (29 units) complete, phase 2 of this development on Eastern Ave & Dix St NE will provide 34 new construction affordable home-ownership units for working families within walking distance of the Capitol Heights Metro station.
. . . and more to come!
Goal 2: Demanding Public Land for Affordable Housing
WIN is also pressing for the dedication of public land to affordable housing. WIN began organizing a team from Holy Redeemer Catholic Church to begin supporting public land for affordable housing in Ward 6.
“We’re ecstatic about the unanimous vote today [to close DC General], but we need to preserve all the affordable housing that exists in D.C. today and expand the availability of affordable housing to support our thousands of families in need.”
Making Homelessness a Top Issue
WIN made homelessness a top issue in the 2014 Mayoral election and held a 900-person action with the new Mayor in the same week as her inauguration. WIN demanded that in the first 100 days of the administration Mayor Bowser appoint a new top team around homelessness. WIN’s organizing, as well as that of other DC community organizations, helped ensure Mayor Bowser’s first budget included $40 million to open short-term family housing to replace DC General Family Shelter and a 35% increase in funding for homelessness services.
WIN believes in the Iron Rule -never do for others what that can do for themselves. So in addition to supporting a playground, laundry room and teen center which were built at DC General, WIN has focused on developing leaders among the shelter residents. Two Shelter residents attended our 3-day training on leadership and grassroots organizing in November. The team then led an action demanding more efficient housing programs, inspections, increased control over food, and greater resident power with the shelter.
At WIN’s November 2015 action, the Mayor before a 500-person packed crowd, committed to fully fund in every year of her administration Homeward DC, the District’s plan to end all homelessness by 2020.
WIN’s youth homelessness work in coordination with the DC Alliance of Youth Advocates and WIN-member, Sasha Bruce and LAYC, paid off this year with the implementation of the Ending Youth Homelessness Act and the allocation of $500,000 in the budget to operate youth drop-in centers. The Washington Post highlighted the two youth drop-in centers that will be opened, including one at WIN-member organization Sasha Bruce. Also, as part of the District’s commitment in this area, DC held its first Homeless Youth Census. The census counted 330 homeless youths who were on the streets, in a housing program, or otherwise without a permanent home.
Between February 2016 and May 2016 WIN organized over 100 supporters including many DC General Residents to attend community meetings and hearings to testify about the urgent need to legislate the closure of DC General and its replacemnt with smaller and more suitable short term housing. WIN leaders mt with Mayor Bowser, Chairman Mendelson, and multiple Council people to aggressively urge them not to get stuck in gridlock, to compromise, and to vote out an acceptable bill before the end of may 2016.
On Tuesday May 31st, 2016 the DC Council unanimously passed bill 21-620 to replace DC General with smaller short-term family emergency housing in all Wards of the District. The Mayor and Council also approved $59 Million in the FY17 Capital Budget, which combined with $41 Million already approved for FY 2016 — a total of $100 Million.
The passion of this law was an important start, but by no means an end. Opponents in Wards 3 and 5 filed a lawsuit against the city to delay the facility. In response, WIN partnered with Good Faith Communities Coalition to organize Ward 3 congregations and residents who support the project. We organized Ward 3 resident and 14 congregations signed letters to their ANC representatives and the Board of Zoning in favor of the project as well as organizing strong turnout to community meetings and hearings. On April 5th 2017 the Board of Zoning Adjustment approved the short-term living facilities in Wards 3 and 5. All indications now are that DC General will finally be closed and replaced.