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