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At a community meeting last month over the future of the long-vacant former Hebrew Home for the Aged at 1125 Spring Rd. NW, a majority of the neighbors who spoke out urged the city to convert the District-owned property into as much affordable housing as possible. It seems they’re getting their wish.
On Tuesday, neighbors again convened at the Raymond Recreation Center, next to the Hebrew Home site, to hear from city officials overseeing the project. The D.C. Housing Authority’s Stephen Green, who at the previous meeting had sketched out a broad outline of the likely development of the property, filled in some details this week. According to a Housing Authority presentation (I was unable to attend the meeting), the agency is proposing that 90 percent of the units at the redeveloped property be limited to low-income tenants.
Green had earlier estimated that the city would aim to build around 80 units within the Hebrew Home, plus 100 to 120 in a new building on the adjacent parcel that’s currently home to the former Paul Robeson School. He said that from the perspective of financing the project, it would likely be easiest to shoot for a 70/30 mix: 70 percent affordable and 30 percent market rate, or vice versa.
But the formula the Housing Authority is now proposing has just 10 percent, or 20 total, market-rate units, likely renting for $1,600 to $2,400 depending on unit size. Ninety units, or 45 percent, would be for people making under 60 percent of area median income. An additional 50, or 25 percent, would go to residents making between 40 and 60 percent of AMI, with a preference for seniors—-a group many neighbors have said they want served by the project. Forty units, or 20 percent, would go to extremely low-income residents, those making under 30 percent of AMI.
The property would consist of a “mix of studios, 1BRs, 2 BRs, and a few 3 BRs,” according to Green’s presentation. The units with senior preference would be studios and one-bedrooms.
Nothing, however, is set in stone. For one thing, there’s the question of city subsidy. The Housing Authority estimates that the total development cost will be around $50 million, $18 million to $20 million of which would have to be covered by the city.
Support from the D.C. Council isn’t assured. Ward 4 Councilmember and Democratic mayoral nominee Muriel Bowser, in whose ward the Hebrew Home is located, has been wary of a Spring Road redevelopment dominated by affordable housing, saying at last month’s meeting that she wants “a continuum of housing.” And while many neighbors have pushed for affordable housing, others are wary of what a concentration of it would do to their property values or neighborhood well-being. Bowser will host a community meeting to receive feedback on the project on Sept. 15.
Local Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Kent Boese, who attended the meeting, has more details on his Park View D.C. blog.
Photo by Aaron Wiener; chart from the Housing Authority presentation