Posts tagged ‘Affordable Housing’

Empowerhouses Ready for Residents

New homeowner Lakiya Culley and members of the Empowerhouse Collaborative dedicate DC's first two "net-zero" dwellings.

New homeowner Lakiya Culley and members of the Empowerhouse Collaborative dedicate DC’s first two “net-zero” dwellings.

New homeowner Lakiya Culley and members of the Empowerhouse Collaborative dedicate DC’s first two “net-zero” dwellings.[/caption]
With the Empowerhouse dedication and ribbon cutting on Dec. 4, Ward 7 officially became home to Washington, DC’s first passive solar homes. The Empowerhouse project began as an entry in the 2011 Solar Decathlon, expanding to provide two low-cost, energy-efficient homes for DC residents. The Empowerhouse Collaborative includes The New School in New York, the DC Department of Housing and Community Development, Habitat for Humanity, Groundwork Anacostia River DC, and a host of other agencies, nonprofits and private enterprises.

“I’m excited,” neighbor Celestine Grant said after the dedication. “This was a vacant lot for 40 years, and it’s wonderful to see it used now for a great purpose. We should find more areas like this, to put houses that people can afford.”

Lakiya Culley, pictured with family and Collaborative representatives, was certified as the first of two homeowners to occupy the special dwellings. The Culleys are slated to take residence in January.

Gallery added 12/22/12. More on this story in January’s East of the River.

Camari watches visitors stream through the passive solar home he will soon occupy with his mother and two older brothers.

Camari watches visitors stream through the passive solar home he will soon occupy with his mother and two older brothers.


December 7, 2012 at 10:29 pm Leave a comment

Update Meeting Announced

The notice below was received, and disseminated to the community by email, on the afternoon of May 7 (three business days prior to the meeting):

You are Invited to Attend:

Minnesota – Benning Intersection Project Community Update from the following Agencies:

Department of Real Estate Services

DC Department of Transportation

Deputy Mayor’s Office for Planning & Economic Development

When: Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Time: 6:30 – 8:00pm

Where: Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington Metropolitan Police Clubhouses Richard England Clubhouse #144103
Benning Road, NE Washington, DC 20019

Although this notice does not mention developers, Latisha Atkins, Ward 7 Outreach and Services Specialist in the Executive Office of the Mayor, reported earlier that Donatelli/Blue Skye will be present. Please see May’s East of the River newspaper.

The Executive Office of the Mayor can be reached at
(202) 442-8150 Main
(202) 340-8248 Mobile
(202) 727-5931 Fax


May 8, 2010 at 7:28 am Leave a comment

Phase II Design — Highest Use?

Developers Donatelli/Blue Skye were awarded the “Phase II” land, at the corner of Minnesota and Benning, in October 2008. The team has had little contact with the community between their presentations to ANC 7D in November of 2008 and in July 2009. The newest information I’ve been able to find on the website of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development — the office in charge of this project and of communicating with the public about it — is the 18-month old RFP

August 11, 2009 at 2:45 am 3 comments

ANC 7D Opposes Pollin Loan

At a special meeting on July 31, ANC 7D voted unanimously to oppose the loan of nearly $8 million to the Pollin Memorial project, slated to replace Parkside Additions. See second page of this month’s Neighborhood News for details.

August 11, 2009 at 2:39 am Leave a comment

Affordable Housing for Phase II

Donatelli/Blue Skye Development was chosen by the District on Oct. 20 for the Phase II development at the Minnesota Avenue Metro. See November’s East of the River — which will be out this weekend (Nov. 1) and on-line by early next week — for details and for neighborhood reaction.

Of issue as this project moves forward is the amount and type of “affordable housing” proposed.

The percentages in the RFP preferences, as well as those proposed by each of the finalists in the competition for this project, are in the previous post (below) on Area Median Income. Details on both proposals are available on the website for the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (Click on “development opportunities,” from list at left, then select “Minnesota Avenue and Benning Road.”)

Sylvia noted in a comment to my earlier post that there are many different potential markets for the housing to be built on this site and that “how do we get ’em here?” is a multi-faceted question

Chris Donatelli, president of Donatelli Development, has noted that his team will work with the District and the community to determine whether the current proposal should be adjusted.

Stay tuned, as Councilmember Alexander expects to facilitate community meetings and other input opportunities. The Councilmember’s direct website was temporarily off-line as I posted this blog. Her Council website was working, however. The Deputy Mayor’s office has announced there will be no further “District-‘initiated’ community meeting” (at least at present).

November 1, 2008 at 1:21 am Leave a comment

Half-mile Median Income (corrected)

Regarding the suggestion to tie housing prices in new developments to the half-mile area around the project…

The RFP for Minnesota-Benning Phase Two, for example, says the District will give preference to proposals which offer 15% of housing units to those making up to 30% of AMI (Area Median Income) and 15% of housing units to those making 30-60% of AMI.

The median household income for the District is listed as $48,917 on the Washington DC Economic Partnership (WDCEP) website. However, the District uses the figure from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development for the wider area: $99,000.

So, 60% of the area median household income is $59,400, and 30% is $31,700. The median income for Ward 7 overall is roughly 62% of the area’s median, or about $61,380.00, according to the 2006 Ward 7 Vision.

The median household income for the half-mile area around the Benning Metro — Benning/Benning Heights — is listed as $35,711. In the one-mile circle, it is $33,302 in WDCEP’s Neighborhood Profiles. The median household income for the half-mile area within Deanwood is $31,269, while the one-mile circle is listed at $34,904.

For Phase Two –

Donatelli plans 375 or 201 (in A and B proposals) “Workforce/affordable” housing units for those earning 60% of AMI — which is roughly $59,400 (as above). They also plan 60 or 44 (proposals A and B) homeownership units at 80% – 120% of AMI, or for those earning between $79,200 and 118,800 in annual household income. [note info here corrected from previous calculations, which did not use the HUD figure]

Of the 191 housing units planned by City East in their proposal (plan B), 28 units would be for those with household incomes up to 30% of AMI — $31,700, making this range similar to the median for Deanwood and a little lower than that of the Benning Metro area — and 48 for those with household incomes from 30-60% of AMI — or up to $59,400. (Plan A, which City East does NOT recommend, would provide 372 housing units.)

How to determine if the units would rent or sell at prices pitched to those income levels, I don’t know. Any one have an idea on that?

October 7, 2008 at 12:32 pm 1 comment

Area Median Income

Can a percentage of affordable housing in new residential development be priced so that it meets the income levels of current residents within a half-mile of the project?

This question arose in the context of the proposals for the Minnesota Benning Phase Two project. An award announcement for that project is expected within the next two weeks. The solicitation for this project asked each offeror to present two options:

Option A) retail, serving the neighborhood, and residential housing with 30 – 60 % of the units to be “affordable to residents earning 0%-60% of the Area Median Income.

Option B) neighborhood-serving retail, offices, and residential housing with 30 – 60 % of the units to be “affordable to residents earning 0%-60% of the Area Median Income.

It is my understanding that a project like this must offer residences to anyone who meets the income requirements. That is, preference cannot be given to Ward 7 residents or to DC residents or to any other group. (A Hope VI project in which former residents of a housing project are given priority is a special case.) While this does not favor Ward 7 residents for housing, it does encourage residents from other parts of the city and from other areas — Maryland and Virginia, for example — with qualifying incomes to become tax-paying, contributing residents of Ward 7…. one of the goals of the many developments planned for the area.

In addition, the qualifications must be set based on a percentage of the AMI for the District — which is making the solicitation — not a smaller area, such as a ward. However, it should be noted that the AMI in Ward 7 is approximately 62% of the AMI for the city — in other words, the Phase Two solicitation is written so that Ward 7 residents would, on average, qualify for the housing in this development.

I also understand that the District could have chosen a lower percentage of the AMI for the solicitation — asking that some portion of the housing be available to those with incomes 20%, 25%, 30%, etc. of the AMI. A lower percentage of the AMI, however, would likely require a rent subsidy, from federal or District sources or from other elements of the development.

Donatelli’s proposal for the site — both “Option A” and “Option B” proposals — include:

1) “multi-family residential workforce/affordable housing at 60% AMI [Area Median Income]”

2) “homeownership units workforce/market housing at 80% – 120% AMI.”

City East’s “Option B” proposal offers “191 Mixed-Income apartment residences,” with

1) 15% at 30% AMI

2) 25% at 60% AMI

(“Option A” included 372 housing units — about which I don’t have the specifics. City East argued that “Option B,” including office is essential to a day/night development.)

The AMI (Area Median Income) for Ward 7 is about 62% of the city-wide median income. So, the District’s solicitation makes it, theoretically, possible for area residents to meet the requirements for newly constructed housing. Both Donatelli and City East had to meet the requirement set forth in the solicitation.

In addition, Donatelli presents homeownership opportunities. For these units, families with 80%-120% of the AMI would qualify. A higher percentage of the AMI is required for homeownership, according to my research, to help guarantee that people who purchase have enough income for the mortgage and also for regular maintenance and other expenses of homeownership.

City East took a different approach, offering a portion (15%) of the rental units for lower income residents while also meeting the requirement of the solicitation.

[This info has been UPDATED/CORRECTED from the 10/1/08 post] Donatelli made a point of noting that its proposals require no public dollars at all. City East had asked for Tax Increment Financing (see separate post on this topic) of $13.6 million for an access road to the WMATA parking garage (this was part of the Great Streets plan and originally included in the RFP) and for Housing Production Trust Fund support for affordable housing housing. Since the presentations to the community on Sept. 10, however, City East has revised their proposal, removing these requests.

October 1, 2008 at 9:26 pm 2 comments