Housing Complex

Gray Ups Affordable Housing Commitment to $187 Million

The Parkway Overlook will receive part of the city's investment in affordable housing.

The Parkway Overlook will receive part of the city's investment in affordable housing.

Nearly nine months after committing to a one-time, $100 million investment in affordable housing, Mayor Vince Gray announced today that he was expanding that commitment to $187 million, with the goal of creating or preserving nearly 3,200 affordable housing units in the city.

Gray's announcement, made this morning at a press briefing in Takoma, includes news of two specific investments, among the other projects that will be funded. One, spearheaded by the Department of Housing and Community Development, is Metro Village, a five-story, 150-unit mixed-income project near the Takoma Metro station. Of those units, 120 will be reserved for households making under 60 percent of the area median income; the other 30 will be market rate.

The second project is the Parkway Overlook, a sprawling ghost town of vacant apartments that used to house more than 1,000 low-income people south of Anacostia. The project, led by the D.C. Housing Finance Agency, will reportedly convert the complex into 180 units of affordable housing. I'm awaiting more details on the planned redevelopment.

According to Gray's office, 2,521 affordable housing units have so far been added since Gray became mayor, and an additional 2,770 units have closed or are under construction.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

  • Whitney Hubbard

    Why doesn't Gray put affordable housing Georgetown, or Glover Park, or Adams Morgan where the median home prices are upwards of a million dollars? You can BUY property in Anacostia for as little as $40,000. We don't need any more affordable housing concentrated EoTR. No thanks.

  • george

    He just did it? No back story? And if he has money now, why didn't he have it before? Or did his priorities just change?

  • george

    (Oh I also meant to say, this is great news!)

  • chris lee

    @Whitney..so we are subsidizing people's desire to live in Georgetown? What planet do you live on? Public housing people are all angels right?

  • Smh

    @chris lee: No, Whitney is simply stating why low-incoming housing always have to be EotR. Why not Georgetown? Ward 8 has endless stock of affordable housing. There is a homeownership problem in that ward.

  • AdMo Rez

    Is there public land available in Georgetown for affordable housing? If not, how much will it cost to subside affordable homes there?

  • SEis4ME

    Public housing people?

    Ahhh, I get it. "Those" people.

  • http://www.congressheightsontherise.com The Advoc8te

    And the ghettofication of Ward 8 continues.

    Hip hip hurray. (sarcasm)

    The idea of locating more "affordable" (which will turn out to be mostly vouchers, again) housing in Ward 8 is just like bringing sand to the beach. Homes in Ward 8 are the cheapest anywhere. And putting them in a Ward with few jobs, only one grocery story, and few amneties is foolishness -- unless the plan is all along to keep the area depressed.

    I give up. Please hand me some matches. I am going to set my house on fire, take the insurance money and move to a neighborhoods made "better" after herding all the poor people to the one I live now.

    DC has an affordable housing problem. Ward 8 has an economic development problem.

  • DCDollBaby

    @Whitney, There is an affordable housing project being build in Ward 2 (Gtown) named Square 50. 3307 M St, NW. Also Public Housing units are not being integrated into just about all the new construction multifamily buildings through DC. Normally 20-30 units per building at the Navy Yard, Nannie Helen Burroughs, Minnesota Ave, Georgia Ave. In 5 years there will be no known housing projects in DC. All units will be integrated throughout the city with affordable and market rate apts.

  • DCDollBaby

    Typo "now being integrated"

  • Typical DC BS

    Let me ask this question - how long do you get subsidized? For life? That seems the basic problem with subsidized housing - no incentives to get off the subsidies. Of course, having reasonable time limits and standards doesn't buy votes for Dumocrats in DC.

  • fred

    Affordable housing is way more expensive to do in Georgetown, meaning that those valuable dollars may be wasted. That doesn't mean they shouldn't try to find ways to get developers to include affordable units--they should--but it means you have to be judicious. (Also, let's face it, some of those people are the worst NIMBY's, probably subconsciously racist oftentimes. Maybe that's a good reason to fight them on this though.)

    On the other side of the coin, you can't have high-end condos in Anacostia--yet. Most people aren't willing to pay that much to live there, even if you build awesome digs. You've got to build from strength.

    Adding people who make 60% of AMI would not make Anacostia more of a ghetto; it would raise median incomes, putting it on a path to being more mixed-income.

    If you own property there and you want values to go up, that's where you have to start.

    On the other hand, if we don't ensure affordability now, someday it could become too expensive, and people who don't own property will start getting pushed out. Either way, encouraging the development of affordable housing makes sense.

  • Geez

    So I guess you all thought that it would go from a dilapidated abandoned building to a luxury condo complex with a pool and a green roof? Or would you rather keep it looking like it is in its current condition, which will definitly keep the surrounding property values low?

  • SEis4ME

    I don't see making the decision to turn Parkway Overlook as the continuing "ghettofication of W8." If the property is built as a mixed-income development, it will both help to serve the areas affordable housing needs as well as making it possible to get a higher income of renters there.

    Let's not live in la-la land though. How "affordable" would a mixed-income property in G'town actually be and for whom? Residents in Cleveland Park who now would be able to live in G'town? There is a numerical limit that the city will pay to subsidize rents which makes our constant (however sincere) challenges to build more WOTR fall on deaf ears.

    Would I like to see less "Section 8" housing concentrated in W8? Of course I would. But I also don't believe in pipe dreams.

    There is absolutely NO WAY possible you can turn what was a class-D property into a Class A...or be for that matter. We need to be more realistic about our expectations.

  • http://www.congressheightsontherise.com The Advoc8te

    @ Fred and Geez:

    This is why your thinking is flawed and why for those of us who actually live in Ward 8 and know its challenges first hand, this method of concentrating low-income and "affordable" housing in a Ward already with a glut of low cost rental properties (but not amneties) and with few options for jobs (because what we really need are businesses) is foolish. We can't get the businesses and stores that lead to jobs because we need the income levels to support them. We can't get that because everytime we turn around DC is announcing this and that project to bring more low income housing to a community already saturated with it. We have brand new condos that were purchased in 2008 for 180k now on the market for $35,000. Only 1 out of 4 residents in Ward 8 are homeowners. We don't have an affordability problem in Ward 8, we have a homeownership problem and depressed property values. Housing Choice Vouchers dictate the market here and that is a problem. You can buy a unit in Ward 8 for about $100/month in mortgage payments and rent that sucker out for $1300 to someone with a Housing Choice Voucher. That is the hustle and Ward 8 residents and homeowners are getting sick of it. They want a balance and I don't think that is crazy.


  • SaveWard7

    Affordable housing should and must be spread out throughout DC to include all of the wards. Trying to keep "those people" as some narrow-minded pricks would say, in a small area is defeating any progress in the city.

  • SEis4ME

    @Fred/Geez, I've lived in W8 for 12 years and don't believe your thinking is flawed. It's more realistic than not for all the reasons I stated above.

    In order to have a thoughtful discussion about this, it's imperative that we EOTR don't give weight to these "keyword" (see Affordable housing) searches, be mindful of the way in which our friends here might sing the wrong tune those w/in the church's choir.

    That said, if more affordable housing is similar to Sheridan Station and other such mixed-income properties, that would be a great thing. If it's another Barry Farms...not so much. But is that what is being suggested?

    Yet, if the approach is to marginalize any project designed to bring more affordable housing options EOTR is to do what TheAdvo continues to do and yell NO MORE LOW INCOME housing, then we're going to continue and yell past each other. While W8 doesn't necessarily need more affordable housing...the CITY does and whether we like it or not, they will not be creating such places in G'town.

  • CuriousGeorge

    I'm not even sure government has any role to play in "creating" affordable housing - why not let the marketplace decide? There is plenty of affordable housing in the region - not just East of the River - just not in Georgetown, or Dupont or Capitol Hill. If government focused on public safety, and providing excellent schools in every neighborhood, not just affluent ones, then areas where there is low demand for housing now, and low costs, would likely experience of mix of residents - some affluent, some middle class, some low income. By lowering the demand in high income neighborhoods, even slightly, by providing decent alternatives in other parts of the region, some homes in those more affluent neighborhoods would be within reach of more people as well - the marketplace would have a naturally diversifying tendency. Also, shouldn't we be thinking regionally in terms of housing costs? Why limit ourselves to the artificial boundaries of state lines? So, why is government intervention in the District's housing market really necessary? Housing vouchers for eligible low income residents would also encourage investors to build for voucher holders, since that is a guaranteed source of revenue for them - another market-based approach for providing low income housing. Is anyone on here besides me concerned about this type of massive social engineering, at great cost to taxpayers? Why not spend that money instead on truly public functions, such as safety and education? Just curious.

  • SEis4ME

    @Curious, that actually doesn't sound "too" unreasonable. Do you have an example or two of where that has worked to address housing..or the lack thereof?

  • DC Landlord


    Parkway Overlook is what's known as an "abandominium". Abandoned properties blight neighborhoods as they attract crime and depress everyone else property values.

    While I'd love to see a private investor step in and buy Parkway Overlook and turn it into market rate housing, that isn't happening and there's nothing the City can do to make it happen.

    The next best alternative is for the City itself to coordinate development of the property. Where will the money come from to develop said property? Well, there's an affordable housing fund and wouldn't it be nice is W8 saw some of that cash? But, money from the affordable housing fund can't be used to develop market rate units and frankly, the City shouldn't be in the business of building market rate units.

    So, that's how we end up in a less-than-ideal situation that's still better than the status quo.

  • CapitalTruck

    I worry that people are starting to romanticize the "good old days" that included one of the highest homicide rates in the country.

  • Alan

    Because land is much more expensive in Georgetown. If the city build affordable housing in expensive parts of the city it would end up building less units.

  • oboe

    Affordable housing should and must be spread out throughout DC to include all of the wards. Trying to keep "those people" as some narrow-minded pricks would say, in a small area is defeating any progress in the city.

    Why just spread throughout DC? As someone mentioned up-thread, DC provides a ton of regional affordable housing--significantly more affordable housing than either MD or VA. At the end of the day, not everyone who wants to live in DC is going to be able to.

  • SEis4ME

    @DCLandlord/Alan, makes sense to me! It's not a hard concept to understand. It's why I wish we EOTR would do a better job in developing our public talking points.

  • AWalkerInTheCity

    "As someone mentioned up-thread, DC provides a ton of regional affordable housing--significantly more affordable housing than either MD or VA. "

    at this point, focusing on absolute amount, not proportion, and on housing cost, not income of residents, is that still true? Are there more houses for sale under 250k in DC, than in PG? I honestly don't know. Ditto for apts. OTOH most of those in PG are market affordable, while DC has much more public housing, section 8, rent controlled, non profit owned, etc.

    A similar comparison could be made between Alexandria and Fairfax - the former with more public housing, etc but less market rate affordable housing.

    On the one hand, the more urban jurisdictions will have lower transportation costs (so H + T will look better). But OTOH they will have smaller units, and higher per sq ft costs - at least for the market rate units.

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  • http://lxry.co.in marvel fuego

    Gray Ups should provide the affordable house in each ward throughout DC.

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