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Ward 8 Commissioners disapprove housing plan

By Jasmine Jackson/Howard University News Service
On December 27, 2014

ANC leaders are not convinced current residents can afford the proposed housing.

Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners recently voiced their disapproval of a plan to build low-income housing in the Bellevue and Washington Highlands neighborhoods. They says the housing will not serve people in the Ward 8 community, but instead will be purchased by newcomers rather than current residents. 

City Interests, a real estate development firm with numerous commercial projects in the District, wants to build 150 mixed-income residential units and structured parking in this area.

The mixed-income residential units will be a part of the South Capital Shopping Center that is being redeveloped to include 36,000 square-feet of retail space, a 50,000 square foot primary care center and 37,000 square-feet of office space.

Sasha Angus, a City Interests representative, said the housing is for people who make between $20,000 and $40,000, or between 30 percent and 60 percent of the median income for Washington. Their goal, said Angus, is to maximize real estate value in the District’s community by building thriving neighborhoods.

“It’s a luxury to bring affordable housing to residents,” said Angus. “We are bringing a diverse group of residents affordable housing.”

ANC commissioners for the neighborhood, however, were not impressed. They argued that people in the neighborhood didn’t earn enough money to buy the proposed housing. Instead, they say people living outside of the area would purchase it.

“You keep coming out here telling us you are building affordable housing,” said Commissioner Absalom Jordan, who serves as the official 8D03 commissioner for Ward 8. “You are building houses for people that don’t live here now.

According to the DC Fiscal Policy Institute, the unemployment rate in Ward 8 is currently 17.7 percent. One in three residents live below the poverty line.

“Our ANC has the poorest people in the city, and they need housing. You are tapping people in this area who don’t live here who will change this area,” said Jordan.

Commissioners said they want to see projects from city council members that will benefit the community. They want to understand how these new developments will affect their community and the residents who have lived there for decades.

Angus said after the meeting that city officials are trying to do just that. 

“City officials were not trying to take away the commissioners’ power. The goal of city officials is to hear what the community had to say and gain the input of the community in regards to new developments and projects. City officials essentially just wanted to gain the trust of the residents.”

The Commissioners want the government to provide affordable housing to those residents in Ward 8 who make between 0 percent and 30 percent of the median income.

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