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Mayor Bowser: Join Us in Achieving An Affordable Housing Opportunity of a Lifetime

Ward 3 Housing Justice | Wardman Hotel Strategy Team


Contact: Gail Sonnemann, 202-286-0845,

Since January 2021, affordable housing activists in Ward 3 have worked to build neighborhood, ward, and citywide support to urge DC Mayor Muriel Bowser, senior officials in her administration, and the City Council to acquire the bankrupt Marriott Wardman Hotel for affordable housing, economic development, and neighborhood facilities. With encouragement from many neighbors, groups such as Ward 3 Democrats, and local and national housing developers, we urge the mayor to join in this opportunity of a lifetime to acquire and transform the defunct hotel into a sustainable community.

Prior to the July 20th auction date for the Wardman, we are asking Mayor Bowser to pick up the phone and call Pacific Life, owner of the hotel, and request the company postpone the auction and enter negotiations with the city. Pacific Life has made a corporate commitment to environmental and social issues including affordable housing, and in April 2021 announced an $800 million fund under its Sustainable Bonds Framework to invest in these concerns.

“The mayor set a goal of 1990 units of affordable housing in Ward 3. We are ready to meet one quarter of that goal with 500+ units, many for large families with rental and home ownership options,” said Margaret Dwyer, Convenor of Ward 3 Housing Justice. “People who work in this ward – laborers, cashiers, barbers, clergy, dental hygienists, as well as folks living on Social Security, among others -- should be able to live in this ward.”

The mayor has taken bold budgetary action during her administration, including bringing the Housing Production Trust Fund to $400 million. But the affordable housing crisis in Ward 3 will not be solved by private development of market rate housing that will yield only 8%-10% affordable units. “At this rate,” said Dwyer, “it will take 124 buildings of 200 units each to reach the mayor’s goal. That’s impossible.”

Our Ward 3 groups urge far bolder action: create an affordable housing/mixed income community with a variety of housing types and ownerships including rental, limited equity cooperatives and for sale. The architectural concept study shows that the vast ballrooms and meeting spaces can be converted to classrooms for over-crowded nearby public schools; and spaces for daycare, social services, indoor recreation, performances, culinary and other job training, a small food market, eateries, other small businesses and even a small hotel.

To date, Mayor Bowser’s response to this opportunity-of-a-lifetime has been: We can't buy it because it's too expensive. Other officials say that it would concentrate poverty. Both statements trivialize and dismiss an innovative project that will serve those looking for work, those earning up to $100,800 (80% of the area Median Family Income or $126,000 for a family of four) and the greater Woodley Park neighborhood.

To achieve a racially and economically diverse community, the city needs to begin immediately to work with Woodley Park neighbors and future residents to create a well-planned new community-within-a-community and a national model for truly affordable housing.

Mayor Bowser and the DC Council:

Transform a defunct hotel into an innovative community. Time is of the essence.


Ward 3 Housing Justice (W3HJ) advocates for bold approaches to affordable housing in Ward 3.

The Wardman Hotel Strategy Team, an affiliate of W3HJ, includes Woodley Park neighbors, other Ward 3 residents, and affordable housing advocates from other parts of the city.

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