District to spend $45M on affordable housing projects

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Local,Michael Neibauer

Two dozen District developments representing roughly 1,300 affordable residential units will vie for $45 million in public subsidies, an initiative designed to tackle the city’s affordable housing crisis, D.C. officials announced Thursday.

Despite a softening housing market, home prices in the District continued their climb in 2006 into prohibitively expensive territory. Mayor Adrian Fenty, who has called for adding 2,000 affordable units to the city’s housing stock in his first year, said the release of $45 million must be followed by many more commitments.

"Schools are probably our biggest crisis, but affordable housing is not far behind," Fenty said during a press conference at the Far Southwest-Southeast Community Development Corp.

Nonprofits and private sector developers have proposed a slate of projects to boost affordable housing for special needs residents, renters, the elderly and first-time home buyers. The applications were whittled down over several months — 29 were received late last year requesting $85 million.

The Israel Baptist Church hopes to build 33 affordable units of senior housing at 10th Street and Rhode Island Avenue Northeast, for example. Friendship Terrace is looking for financing to renovate its property in Tenleytown, while the Far Southwest-Southeast CDC is planning a mixed-use development called Trinity Plaza at the intersection of South Capitol Street and Atlantic Avenue.

Trinity Plaza, said CDC President George Brown, is not just about affordable housing, but also the transformation of a Ward 8 community long seen as a lost cause. Ward 8 D.C. Council Member Marion Barry said the project will usher a new vision for the Bellevue neighborhood.

"It’s just the perception and the view of east of the river, and that’s just going to be busted open," Brown said.

The chosen affordable housing projects, which cover all eight wards, now move into a two-month underwriting stage, which will determine what developments are subsidized and how much each will receive. Victor Selman, interim director of the Department of Housing and Community Development, said the developments could exceed the local and federal grant funding available, but the department is more likely to look for additional money than to reject a proposal.

Sources of $45 million

» D.C. Housing Production Trust Fund

» Community Development Block Grants

» Home Investment Partnerships

» Low-income housing tax credits

mneibauer@dcexaminer.com

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Michael Neibauer

D.C. Government Reporter
The Washington Examiner