Tuesday, April 13, 2010

New buildings at Carlos Rosario school -- mixed- or low-income housing?

A couple of days ago I got a notice in the mail that the folks at Carlos Rosario Public Charter School on Harvard and 11th are proposing to building two apartment buildings, plus an annex to the school and some "amenities" (as they're called in zoning law) such as "senior housing, affordable housing, and expanded programs of the Carlos Rosario School, which focuses on adult education for the immigrant population of the city."

The folks on the South Columbia Heights listserve then got into it, with some worried that it's going to be two 60-foot buildings of all low-income folks, which they argue would increase crime, while some say it's probably going to be mixed-income, and some (namely ANC commish William Jordan) argue that low-income buildings are fine and that people against them are being discriminatory. The plan (linked above) doesn't really say what will be there, but a poster on the listserve says there are a few proposals floating around, some of which are mixed-income, and one which is wholly low-income.

Obviously, this is a heated issue, and it depends on what the developer actually decides, but I do agree that entirely low-income housing is not a good idea. Jordan basically ignores the last 30 years of urban planning, when we learned that large (or even medium-sized) buildings housing solely low-income people is not a good idea: it increases crime in the area, which is often caused by people not actually living in the buildings -- that's also what's been said about the buildings at 14th and Fairmont and those on Columbia Road.

All around the country large public housing buildings have been torn down, replaced by smaller scattered site housing or mixed-income housing like HOPE VI, which have much lower crime and other issues. It's not about low-income people, it's about large buildings. If these buildings are truly mixed-income (low, medium and higher) then that's completely fine with me.

Photo by Mr. T in DC

35 comments:

Anonymous said...

100% low income is a terrible idea and ignores the benefits to CH b/c of the non-low income people who moved in. I am sure the hoards will argue gentrification is bad blah blah blah. But seriously look at CH in 2002 and look at it now. In 2002, it was not a place that people would frequent. It certainly was not the low income people who currently live in CH that contributed to the change.

Anonymous said...

The focus should not be on creating a place that people with means want to frequent. The goal should be providing affordable housing to low income residents who need it. The Rosario school seems to be weighing its options, let's see how it plays out.

Anonymous said...

This is the second time recently you have mistated my position. You don't even to spin my position to up your blog hits, posting with integrity works. My position is get the facts first before railing against people with lower incomes. Like I asked, what is the income level you require before a person has good character?

The problem with past efforts is they where designed to warehouse people in isolation from the responsibilities and benefits of larger society. Especially, when un- and under- employment rates are high and public policy is benign neglect. As well the economics and subsidies were designed to make such isolated structures profitable.

In Columbia Heights isolation would not be a factor expect it by social choice.

The flip side of the coin is if we want mixed income developments we also would need to push back against policies and planning with isolate the high income.

It's one thing to demand good planning, its another to claim good planning demands discrimination.

William

Andrew said...

Anon #1, I disagree. I don't want to live in Georgetown, I want to be in a diverse neighborhood. Mixed-income housing would help that.

Andrew said...

William, how did I spin your position? You said in regards to large low-income housing causing crime, "No it has not been proven, just an oft repeated over simplification" which I disagreed with. Then you said "I don't believe the anecdotal recitals of urban planning principles justices housing discrimination." That's exactly what I said you said, and it's in your comment as well.

And I'm ambivalent about your point on high income housing. We probably have too much already, which is a point I've made on this blog before.

Mr T in DC said...

I agree that 100% low income housing here would be a disaster. There's already too much of a concentration of low income housing in the south part of Columbia Heights. I have no problem with it being a mixed-income project, but given the preponderance of subsidized units already in the immediate vicinity, I'd rather this particular site be used for 100% market rate development. Maybe rowhouses, with basement apartments, which would provide an affordable option for rental units. There were probably once rowhouses there in the past, may as well stick to a model of development that works, and not revert to discredited, failed practices of the past.

Anonymous said...

what kind of affordable housing? Are you assuming public housing? Or housing targeting very low income families? Honestly, I doubt it will be such a project. It will most likely be a tax credit project targeting those earning 60% or 80% of the area median income similar to the Residences at Georgia Ave (which rent for 1000-1200/monthly). This is for those individuals and couples earning 35k-60k, approx, and I believe more rentals for this bracket are needed in the area.

Anonymous said...

anyone that is for this project please also post whether or not you actually own in the CH.

See b/c you renters can skip out anytime you want. us owners have to guard our investment.

so all of you saying oh i don't want this to be G-town and what not that is great but i hope you actually own.

Mixed housing might be okay if it is as the last annon described (income rates 35k-65k). this neighborhood is just starting to get better the last thing we need is 5 stories of low income who more likely then not are going to engage in crime.

not providing housing subsidies is NOT discriminatory as the ANC rep states. We responsible tax payers do NOT have an obligation to subsidize poor people's houseing.

Anonymous said...

There is not way to sum up my position with that misquote out of context.

First the studies often talk about messive isolated public housing, there is no talk of doing public housing on this site. So the claim I am ignoring 30 years of planning is B.S..

I'm arguing against making policy by stereo-type and ancedotes. Instead we need to look at this project and others in the context of our neighborhood.

Google the District's Human Rights Charter and then get back to me on discrimination.

William

Andrew said...

How is that out of context? Both of those are your entire replies!

Anonymous said...

William do you own in CH?

housing is not a civil right. living in CH is not a civil right.

Andrew said...

Also, the whole thread is linked above if people want to see the whole argument.

Anonymous said...

Working to block a project only because it services the low-income is discriminatory.

Whether government should or should not subsidize housing is a different debate. BTW all the major projects in CH have been subsidized in one form or another.

William

Andrew said...

And I should add it's not a misquote either, as I copy and pasted it directly from the thread.

Anonymous said...

william you don't know the meaning of "discriminatory." blocking my tax fundedn subsidies to a low income housing program is NOT discriminatory. Housing is not a civil right. If i was saying no to this project b/c i don't want purple people to live here that is discriminatory against people who are purple. Race, religion, gender are federally protected classes. low income is not a protected class.

also william, you didn't answer my question - Do you own in CH?

Anonymous said...

I was the second comment in this thread and I own in CH. There are much more important things than protecting my investment, much more.

Anonymous said...

Yes, William Jordan does own a house here in CH, he probably paid it off years ago and is sitting pretty. There's no point in anyone arguing with him here, it's like trying to win a land war in Asia. He's a nutty guy, and will never be persuaded even by thirty years of statistics and case studies. He has continually fought anything that makes the neighborhood more livable, prosperous and pleasant. If it's crappy, he's all for it. D'Vines = bad, Speedy's = good, dog park = bad, drunks loitering = good, wine bar = bad, vacant storefronts = good, Chipotle bad, litter & graffiti = good, bottle bill = bad, ban on single servings = bad, public urination = good, Allegro = bad, low income warehousing of the poor in a concentrated area = good!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Andrew said...

No spam, please.

The Man with the Plan said...

BWAH HA HA! Mr. Jordan you will never stop gentrification! The Plan exists, and it is unstoppable!

Please return to the Columbia Heights Community Forum William, it is so empty without you, and all your fans miss you there!

Anonymous said...

Yes, my wife and I are home owners once we get the deed from the bank.

We should be able to make good housing policy without violating anti-discrimination housing law local and federal.

William

Anonymous said...

Andrew, I'm shocked William Jordan hasn't figured out a way to blame Jim Graham for your "misquoting" him verbatim.

I stopped participating in the neighborhood listserv because of his poorly written screeds against the councilmember.

Anonymous said...

I think much of my analysis on CM Graham's actions and policies toward this community have been proven pretty much on point. I think this blog and others are just afraid hold CM Graham accountable, whether you agree or disagree with his actions or policies. For example the Columbia Heights Streetscape and Civic Plaza is import to me and many other residents. The CM behind the scenes worked to undermine this project for years. I opposed him on that issue.

On the issue of affordable housing we are not that far apart. Except for along time he did not support the concept of supporting workforce housing. Where as, I believe that is where a good part of the focus should have been for Columbia Heights.

Unfortunately, folk make comments out of ignorance. Development efforts put together by most in this community pre-so-called-gentrification were designed to encourage and welcome folk with relatively higher incomes as neighbors and to become apart of the community fabric.

In some ways the concept of gentrification and anti-gentrification was pushed in CH to assuage the guilt and hide the hand of those only interested in flipping properties not building community. By falsely connecting most low and moderate income people to crime and flipping properties with civic duty.


William

The Gup said...

this was an update posted on Prince of Petworth this morning...we all might be arguing over nothing.

"“This project has been a dream of the Carlos Rosario group, for about 5 years. Nothing has come of it to this point. This is a preliminary early first step. The school’s lease gives them some management control and authority over the use of the land. They have retained Holland and Knight [law firm]. And it is Holland and Knight who sent out the notice, but they have to by law make clear that the city owns the property.”

In other words, the original letter was not sent by the city but was sent by the law firm hired by the Rosario group. I will be following the proposed development of this site very closely. Should any meetings be scheduled or more details be released I’ll be sure to update."

Andrew said...

William, I'm not afraid to hold Jim Graham accountable, however, I generally disagree with your analysis, and I don't believe he worked to undermine the Streetscape or Civic Plaza.

Mr T in DC said...

William historically has something against Jim Graham, and Dan Tangherlini, while giving Marion Barry a pass on all of the damage he's done to the reputation of the District over the years. His lengthy babbling above, and complete lack of understanding of Federal and local housing anti-discrimination laws is typical.

Centzon, son of Aybitch, hidden hand of the plan said...

William, the guiding hand fabricated by you to be against you is mine! Look upon my works and tremble puny human! Soon CH will be nothing but a huge dog park ringed by wine bars! Bwah ha ha!!!

Ahh, I feel like I am back at Columbia Heights Community Forum, or any of the Columbia Heights message boards. This is awesome!

Anonymous said...

Andrew,

I worked on the CH Public Realm from 2003 to date. I know who actively supported the effort and who did not. I have no reason to make up whom I experienced as a true supporter of the project and who was not. The CM from my perspective was dragged kicking and screaming in to whatever support was provided. It was not me who got it done, but other community members, I was just the pest. One day, I'm going to post all the email traffic and do a FOIA on the project. Then you will see. I fact you do the FOIA and give me your analysis.

You are the newage reporter. You do the research and story. I'll provide with the locations of the bodies I know about.

How can you say my analysis is wrong on the housing project, when you don't even have the details on the project. And my analysis basically says don't go by ancedotal data, general reports, stereo-types and assumptions but get the details first.

BTW, Would be OK for me to determine where you can live and how many of you can live in a certain area solely by your demographic characterization and quotations from some duty done in the 90's?

William

Anonymous said...

An Inauspicious Start for Columbia Heights Apartment Project

http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/housingcomplex/2010/04/14/an-inauspicious-start-for-columbia-heights-apartment-project/

William

Andrew said...

William,

You saying Jim Graham is doing a bad job is not rare, and thus I take that with a grain of salt.

And the only analysis I've seen from you is that everybody else is wrong and discriminatory and higher income places are maybe not a good idea. I mentioned in the post that I didn't have all the details either.

I don't know what else to tell you, because we're never going to agree. I don't care to argue about this any further.

Anonymous said...

In my opinion, it doesn't matter whether the buildings are low-income, or filled with fussy, self-absorbed, dog-park-demanding yuppies. High density construction is inappropriate for the location and should be opposed.

Anonymous said...

First, my opinion of Mr. Graham's work is more complex than he is doing a bad job. I have concluded that overall from my perspective the negatives of his leadership currently outweight the positives. I did not always have this view at one time it was the other way around. My which hedged primarily on the handling of development issues, public safety issues, transparency and inclusiveness.

Even now if Mr. Graham does what I view as a good thing or job, I will say so.

In terms of discrimination, I don't believe most folk intend to be discriminatory, but sometimes they end up supporting policies that at their root are discriminatory. There are times when discrimination is valid, but specific data is required. In this case no specific was provided just general concern about low-income people based on studies that may or may not apply.

Andrew said...

I'm not going to respond anymore. Tired of this.

Anonymous said...

Interesting response?

Anonymous said...

Wards 1 and 8 already carry the lion's share of affordable housing. City planners should work to put new housing like this in areas of town that really need it - like Wards 2 and 3. Ward 1 is already full of economic diversity.