Housing Advocates Press the Bowser Admin to Seize Opportunities to Develop Affordable in Ward 3
Ward 3 Housing Justice
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 20, 2021
Contact: Gail Sonnemann, 202-286-0845, firstname.lastname@example.org
A group of affordable housing and community-led development advocates from Ward 3 and across the District met Friday with a team of District leaders led by Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) John Falcicchio to discuss ways in which the Bowser administration could achieve its goal of 1990 new units of affordable housing in Rock Creek West (mostly Ward 3) by 2025.
The advocates, from Ward 3 Housing Justice (W3HJ), the Wardman Hotel Strategy Team (WHST), and the newly formed NW Opportunity Partners Community Development Corporation (NWOP-CDC), expressed frustration that the Mayor’s administration had not taken action on the proposed Wardman Hotel conversion to a mixed-use community. “Large sites near Metro, schools, and other amenities are hard to find in Ward 3; you have to grab them or it could be years before you get another chance,” said Margaret Dwyer, W3HJ convenor and Friendship Heights resident.
The advocates told the government representatives, including Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) Director Polly Donaldson and Office of Planning (OP) Director Andrew Trueblood, that it will be a difficult task to build community trust when ideas like the Wardman Hotel conversion -- a concept identified and developed by unhoused and impacted Black residents, and supported by developers and neighbors -- are left on the table. Deputy Mayor Falcicchio confirmed to the group that the administration had not talked to the presumed new owner of the hotel property about producing significant amounts of affordable housing as part of redevelopment.
Director Donaldson pointed out that new federal and city funding offers more possibilities for Rock Creek West (mostly Ward 3) than had been previously available. “The funding is only useful if it is used to create opportunities. Supporting development as usual is not what we are looking for,” said Meg Maguire, Chair of the NWOP-CDC.
All participants in the meeting agreed that Friendship Heights offers an opportunity for substantial family housing, but it is essential that all planning prioritizes affordable housing and includes not only current but also future residents who will be able to live there. “We need the Office of Planning to bring everyone -- advocates, neighbors, potential residents, developers, city agencies -- to the table from the very beginning in an open and transparent process,” said Margaret Dwyer. “Ward 3 is at a turning point. We have momentum, a doubling of the ward’s Black population, and a growing base of organized supporters of affordable housing. The time for concrete action is now. The Bowser administration has to put rhetoric into action,” Dwyer added.