Ward 3 Housing Justice
Release: 01 27 2023
Contact: Gail Sonnemann, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-286-0845
At Ward 3 Councilmember Matthew Frumin’s online community forum on the fiscal year 2024 budget on Saturday, January 21, the councilmember voiced strong support for new affordable housing in the ward. Residents raised two primary pleas: for money to set up a fund to buy land for affordable housing projects, and for money and action to save the old Wardman Hotel for affordable units in Woodley Park. These proposals are in line with Mayor Bower’s goal of 1,900 new Ward 3 affordable units by 2025.
First up was Deirdre Brown, a 2022 Democratic primary candidate for Ward 3 council representative, who spoke for Northwest Opportunity Partners Community Development Corporation (NWOP CDC). She urged the council to set up and fund the Affordable Housing Property Acquisition Fund with an eventual $100 million which would enable the city to act rapidly to purchase property for affordable housing when it becomes available. For FY24, Brown asked for $25 million targeted for Ward 3/Rock Creek West. Frumin said he “saw how important this [money] could be, and I will be talking to my colleagues about how to do this.”
Anne Murphy, speaking for Ward 3 Housing Justice (W3HJ) supported Brown’s $25 million request and said that it is needed now because suitable property is disappearing. She said that W3HJ had taken the councilmember’s advice and solicited opinions about the proposed acquisition fund from land use professionals, developers and elected officials whose response was overwhelmingly positive. The councilmember answered, “If we had had the fund we might not be in the quandary we are in at the Wardman.” He said the “fund idea has a lot of support” and said he would take it up with his housing committee colleagues.
Carren Kaston and Robert Harvey spoke for the Wardman Hotel Strategy Team (WHST). Kaston asked for the city to stop the razing of the Wardman, and for the city to take the property by eminent domain for affordable housing. These actions are justified, she said, because the Wardman owners’ plan for affordable housing is inadequate (900 luxury apartments with only 72 ‘affordable’), and because the city’s finances are healthy. Taking control of the Wardman is also in line with Deputy Mayor John Falcicchio’s statement that the city wants to “maximize the residential potential of the [Wardman] site with an emphasis on affordable housing and attainable, middle income housing.”
“I wish the city had bought [the Wardman],” Councilmember Frumin responded, “but the mayor chose not to,” adding that the problem with eminent domain is “it doesn’t happen fast.” He also complimented WHST for “being way out in front” on this matter.
“This budget listening session was great. We felt that Councilmember Frumin really heard us, not only on affordable housing but on all the topics raised,” said Margaret Dwyer of Ward 3 Housing Justice, “We will work with him and his colleagues in the upcoming budget deliberations to bring more affordable housing and other improvements to Ward 3 and across the city.”