WORTH A READ

Housing policy can be complicated, but understanding the big ideas really matters.  These are some articles and audio files that can help any interested lay person start to build a knowledge base.  Before you know it, you’ll be a housing policy nerd, too!

Housing Justice

How Gentrification in Washington Changed Local Black Political Power - POLITICO  (April 14, 2022) connects a lot of the dots between the policy choices that led to displacement of Black residents and the consequences for DC.

For a good overview of how the existing inequality in Ward 3 was created and how it could be corrected, check out The Historical Roots of Inequality in Rock Creek West and A New Day in Rock Creek West, which are both found on the website of our partners at NW Opportunity Partners CDC.  Together they provide a brief overview of the policies that created the segregation in RCW and proposals for undoing it. 

Why won’t you ever see W3HJ advocating for so-called ‘workforce housing’?  It’s because we think everyone deserves affordable housing, but so-called workforce housing is usually earmarked for workers who earn 80-120% of the MFI – in other words, teachers and nurses.  It implies that others who labor long and hard for low wages, such as home health aides, day care workers, or laborers, are not part of the workforce!

 

Think about it here: 

 

When we proposed repurposing the bankrupt Wardman Hotel, located in the heart of wealthy Woodley Park, for mixed income all affordable housing and community amenities, opponents called it a ‘concentration of poverty.’  This is a common trope used to discourage the development of affordable housing.  What does mixed income level affordable housing really mean? This fact sheet shows who would live in mixed income affordable housing and why, in a wealthy area such as Woodley Park, it would never be a ‘concentration of poverty’.  

 

In contrast, W3HJ’s concept of Concentration of Opportunity describes the powerful benefits associated with growing up and living in a neighborhood where resources are poured into the schools, libraries, transportation and access to healthcare and healthy foods changes the trajectory of lives. You don’t have to take our word for it –  check out Opportunity Insights: Neighborhoods to see what a team of Harvard researchers has to say.

Policies and Models that Promote Housing Justice

Housing justice is created by bold, intentional policy.  These are the top four policies W3HJ is focused on right now. We believe that implementing these policies would move DC in the right direction.

 

The goal of creating new affordable housing can be reached through models that actually promote housing justice.  Community Land Trusts (CLT’s) create both rental and ownership possibilities and are an increasingly popular model for affordable housing.  This article is a great introduction to the basics of CLT’s. Other ownership opportunities can be found in the limited equity co-op model (LEC), in which residents own a share of the property. Limited equity co-ops tend to offer deeper affordability than other permanently affordable shared-equity housing models. Here are some resources on the history of LECs in DC, and for more in-depth reading about creating and preserving some LECs and other models like CLTs in the District


 

Another model that is popular in Europe, Canada and now beginning to appear in the US is social housing. This article provides an introduction to the social housing model If you prefer to listen to a conversation about it, check out our partners at Empower DC discussing social housing and related ideas on their weekly radio show.  This excellent discussion of social housing focuses on how it could help solve the affordable housing crisis in DC. Listen here to Empower’s "Taking Action” show on WPFW featuring Will Merrifield. In addition to an explanation of social housing, the discussion includes CM Lewis-George’s Green New Deal legislation, city policies, HPTF, rent control and Wardman. 

 

Why not imagine a pilot social housing development in Ward 3?  Here’s more detail about how A Massive Expansion in Public Rental Homes Could Literally Pay for Itself