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Create the Affordability Acquisition Fund For Affordable Housing in Areas of High Land Costs

Updated: Apr 3, 2022

Northwest Opportunity Partners CDC


Contact: Gail Sonnemann, 202-286-0845,

Citing the small amount of affordable housing produced by developers in Ward 3 through Inclusionary Zoning, the high cost of land, and the lack of public land on which to build housing for people who work in the area, the NW Opportunity Partners CDC urged the Mayor and the Council to create a $100 million Affordability Acquisition Fund to:

  1. Rapidly acquire buildings and sites in areas of high opportunity, high land cost and little public land to create 1000 new beautiful, permanently affordable rental and ownership units with an emphasis on large, family-sized units;

  2. Galvanize the expertise of nonprofit and for-profit housing development teams and their qualified lenders through pre-approved bridge loans for rapid land acquisition;

  3. Guarantee permanent affordability through covenants administered by the Douglass Community Land Trust; and

  4. Give priority to those who have lived in DC for 10+ years or who were displaced from their homes during the past 10 years.

Speaking at the FY 2023 Council oversight hearing, CDC Chair Meg Maguire stated: “We are dedicated to achieving Mayor Bowser’s Ward 3 affordable housing goal of 1990 new units by 2025. But we will never come close to reaching this goal if we depend on inclusionary zoning. Based on three large scale developments -- City Ridge, Mazza Gallery and the former Wardman Hotel site the outlook is bleak: all together they will produce a mere 163 units of affordable housing.

There is very little public land in resource-rich Ward 3 on which to build more affordable housing. The city is not well-equipped to acquire private land when it becomes available. This was illustrated by the city’s unwillingness to engage in early negotiations with the creditors when the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel declared bankruptcy over a year ago.”

The NYC Acquisition Fund offers a model for DC legislation. Since its founding in 2006, the Fund has invested $533 million to acquire, preserve and construct 14,236 units of affordable housing. Originating lenders include two highly respected organizations already operating in DC, Enterprise and LISC, that could draw on their experiences in NYC to jump start the Affordability Acquisition Fund in DC.

“People who work in Ward 3 – construction workers, grocery store employees, teachers’ aides, musicians, and health care workers -- should be able to live in Ward 3,” Maguire said. “Prospects for welcoming them to live here are vanishing. Properties that seem expensive today will be out of reach tomorrow. We urge the Council and DMPED to move quickly to take advantage of once-in-a-generation acquisition opportunities and establish a fund dedicated to this goal.”

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