• W3HJ

Ward 3 Housing Justice Policy Priorities

Updated: Jul 4

May 2022



As an organization that organizes for equitable housing in Ward 3, W3HJ endorses the generally held definition of affordability, i.e., that housing is affordable when a household spends no more than one-third of its income on housing, and we are committed to reaching or exceeding the Mayor’s goal of creating 1,990 new units of affordable housing in Rock Creek West (RCW, which is primarily Ward 3) by 2025. To date, progress toward the goal has been limited, with only about 500 units predicted.


Why focus on policy? The segregation that exists in RCW was not accidental. It was deliberately created by policies to remove and exclude Black residents. Undoing the resulting segregation requires equally powerful and targeted policies.


We focus on policies that increase the numbers of permanently affordable units across all income bands, especially for low-income households and that Increase the production of family-sized units


We propose that we build an equitable road to get to this goal with policies that are as sound ten years from now as they are today and that will enable us to generate ongoing and long term structures to create housing for all.


Policy One: Create more public-purposed property for the production of affordable housing


More affordable housing can be created on property that the city and their qualified development partners control, but in RCW and other similar neighborhoods, there is limited public owned property available. We call on the DC Council to create an Affordable Housing Property Acquisition Fund to enable the city and partners to move quickly to acquire properties and then build generous amounts of affordable housing and other community amenities. This is our best hope for activating the kind of public subsidy required for deeply affordable housing.


Policy Two: On public property in RCW require that at least 75% of residential square footage be devoted to permanently affordable housing, consisting of a mix that resembles:

  • 25% for households earning 0-30% of the MFI (up to $38,700 for a family of four)

  • 25% for households earning 31-50% of the MFI (up to 64,500 for a family of four)

  • 25% for households earning 51- 80% of the MFI (up to $103,200 for a family of four)

  • 25% for households earning above 80% of the MFI, including market rate.

We believe that a distinct strength of this wide spectrum of affordability we propose is that it allows for a truly diverse mix of residents, and that households can move up economically without having to move out.


Policy Three: On private land, increase affordable housing requirements and incentives city-wide:
  • Increase basic inclusionary zoning requirement from 8% to 20% permanently dedicated affordable housing

  • Expand Inclusionary Zoning (IZ) requirements to include downtown zones, as proposed by the Office of the Attorney General , thus requiring the developers of downtown residential projects to comply with the same IZ affordable housing requirements as the developers of properties in other parts of the city.

  • Lower the income thresholds for affordable housing generated through inclusionary zoning from <60% to <50%. We endorse OAG’s proposed text amendment would deepen the affordability levels in the inclusionary zoning program for both home ownership and rental units so that the lowest-income residents can access housing.

  • Require the inclusion of family-sized, deeply affordable units within IZ, and supply extra subsidy as needed

Policy 4: Require community-led planning

Every development and redevelopment opportunity must have full engagement with the community in a participatory and community-led process that includes not only existing community members but members of the ‘should-be’, or potential future, inclusive community.


A corollary of this position is that we oppose policy that circumvents or undermines true community involvement, such as the zoning text amendment proposed by the Office of Planning to grant WMATA Matter-of-Right status to move its existing Friendship Heights Bus Garage to the Lord and Taylor site with no community consultation or environmental review.