Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Community meeting tomorrow on affordable housing at old Hebrew Home -- locals disagree

There's a bit of a fight brewing about affordable housing in the area. If you remember, the city plans to redevelop the vacant Hebrew Home building at 1125 Spring Road NW as affordable housing. There's a community meeting tomorrow at the Raymond Rec Center at 3725 10th Street NW about it, and it looks like two camps have formed, both of which are advertising the meeting.

On one side are proponents of making the building 100% affordable. They have a Facebook group and argue that the city's house prices are going up and despite growth, there are fewer affordable units in the city (they also quote statistics.)

On the other side are a group distributing flyers (pictured above) that say the city is "quietly pushing plans" to turn the building into 100% affordable housing, and that concentrating low income housing in one place is bad for everybody -- they also include a picture of Park Morton, the troubled housing complex on Park Road, which is not related to this at all. In my opinion, that's basically a scare tactic: this is what could happen!

While I don't disagree that concentrating poverty is not good, this certainly isn't some kind of nefarious secret plot by the city to sneak the plan past local residents. This is at least the second meeting about it, and the city also put out a survey to judge opinions of the community. Could they do more to advertise it? Sure, but community meetings and surveys are a good way to let people know.

The second group argues that the building should be a combination of senior, affordable and market rate housing, which sounds a lot more reasonable than the rest of the flyer.

In any case, it should be an interesting meeting.


  1. I believe the issue is that the city made a decision and tried to sneak it through, but when the community found out, they tried to back track and hold public meetings retroactively. While Park Morton may not be directly related, Columbia Heights is fairly close. CHV is 50% of AMI while the proposal for the Hebrew Home is 60%. CHV has been a problem for years as well. Also, did you see the survey? It was haphazard to say the least. Not sure which side it benefits, but it was hardly scientific.

  2. The city decided to surplus this building to DCHA without any community input, and its plan for the building was made in advance of the meeting it held in June. This meeting tonight was only scheduled because of community outrage, so I think you're incorrect to say that this hasn't been quiet. Second, up to 60% AMI actually is very close to what Park Morton is, and the city is attempting to shut that project down and move the folks to the Hebrew Home. That's been well-documented, so Park Morton certainly is relevant. Trusting that the city has plans that are improving on the Park Morton model solely based on the fact taht this building will be new, and developed with LIHTC, seems naive. Lastly, the Facebook page advertised by JUFJ is ludicrous. None of them live in our neighborhood. Their entire board lives in Virginia or Montgomery County, with the exception of Brianne Nadeau, who's about to resign, and they're an outside group who's making our neighborhood the subject of a public policy experiment.

  3. Oh yes, they put out a survey -- but haven't released the results, which I would bet trend strongly toward a retirement home and/or a full-range mixed-income property from market to affordable... that is, if one were able to parse the terrible survey design.

    Did you attend the first meeting, at Petworth Library to cover it for the blog? It was embarrassing -- they brought a presentation but couldn't hook up the projector, they had no control over Q&A, and it was quite clear the plan was already in place and these public meetings were an irritating formality.

    DCHA needs to focus on fixing its current disasters before creating new ones.

  4. The city has hardly been trying to sneak one by anyone. Very early in the process, DCHA reached out to both ANC 1A and ANC 4C, both of which included presentations by DCHA on their agendas. There was also the public surplus meeting, required by law, which was very well attended (To be fair, I won't say it was well organized). In response to public feedback, they conducted their survey and now are having another public meeting.

    As to the link with Park Morton, that's hogwash. There is NO PLAN to shut Park Morton down and transfer the residents to the Hebrew Home. They are completely separate projects and have no connection to each other.

    On the contrary, I've witnessed far worse behavior from the FOHH group, which has distributed flyers and made public appeals with false, misleading, and wildly inaccurate information in their attempt to fear-monger.

  5. What's false about the fact that the city wants to make this building 100% below market rate housing exactly? I can't speak for any of these groups, but asking for a combination of market rate, affordable, and senior housing seems completely reasonable to me, irrespective of the tactics used in flyers. 100% of anything seems like a mistake.

  6. Were you aware that over two years ago, DC met with community leaders to ask them what they wanted to do with the Old Hebrew home? The resounding answer? Senior Housing. But then two years later, DC ignore community input and change the entire plan to make it affordable housing. And they absolutely plan to transfer the Park Morton residents who are left living in that squabble and where a 7 year old girls was just shot to the Hebrew Home. Petworth and Columbia Heights already have a disproportionate level of affordable housing. Give people a chance to live in other parts of DC. And yes, whoever references the group that is pro-affordable housing, they all live outside the neighborhood. I'd love to see how they felt if this his was being planned two blocks from where they lived...


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