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Cheh, Trueblood Asked to Halt Development Study

Updated: Jul 4, 2022

Residents Say Friendship Heights’ Contract is 'Illegitimate'

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, March 30, 2021

The Ward 3 Housing Justice Working Group (W3HJWG), a new organization working for affordable housing in Ward 3, urges Council Member Mary Cheh and Director Andrew Trueblood of the DC Office of Planning (OP) to halt the OP contract with the Urban Land Institute ULI to plan the redevelopment of Friendship Heights until ULI is required to fully involve community residents and expert organizations concerned with financing, building and maintaining innovative affordable housing.

“Friendship Heights is ripe for reimagining, but whose imaginations will lead the way? As a Friendship Heights resident, I want visionaries and trailblazers planning truly affordable housing, land trusts, social housing and a rich mix of community-planned, life-enriching amenities at the table right from the very beginning,” said Margaret Dwyer, Friendship Hts. resident and member of the W3HJWG. “In what has become a regrettable pattern, the DC Office of Planning has acted without transparency or community involvement to give developers the lead role in determining what kind of development will dominate this DC neighborhood.

In a separate email to Mr. Trueblood, Ms. Dwyer urged him to "halt and restart" the procurement to "ensure that the people doing the envisioning are truly focused on creating a neighborhood that is accessible to all...from the very first conversation. We do not want to be invited at the end of the planning process to a PowerPoint telling us what is going to happen and have that be called engagement."

The Office of Planning has failed to answer the most basic questions about this maneuver: Why was ULI’s Technical Assistance Panel (TAP) given the lead role while other interests were excluded from leadership? What are the contract deliverables? What are the specific affordable housing goals for families earning 0-30% MFI; 30%-60% MFI;60-80% MFI? Who will the ULI team consult in the neighborhood? Will they hold planning meetings where people can share their vision and wisdom for this new city-within-a-city? What will DC officials do with the report once it is issued?

Ward 3 already has abundant market rate housing. What is needed is housing for those who need it most. We call on the Office of Planning and Councilmember Cheh to set a target of two thirds affordable and one third market rate units.

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