The ANC voted unanimously on Monday on a resolution, sponsored by 6D-03 commissioner Rachel Reilly Carroll, called “Resolution in Support of Avoiding the Displacement of Public Housing Residents During the Redevelopment of Public Housing Buildings in the Southwest Neighborhood,” which supports a “Build-First” model for Greenleaf’s eventual redevelopment. The resolution urges DCHA, the DC City Council, and the Office of the Mayor to form an Interagency Working Group within the next 30 days to evaluate the feasibility of executing a “Build First” strategy utilizing one or more of the 21 publicly-owned parcels in Southwest identified during OP’s recent Southwest Neighborhood Plan process. In addition, the ANC would like at least one commissioner to serve on the Interagency Working Group and to report on its progress and findings at least once a month to the Greenleaf Neighborhood Advisory Group until redevelopment commences.
In previous cases across the city where public housing complexes have been redeveloped, current residents were moved to other public housing complexes in the city or given vouchers while redevelopment occurs and once the new housing is built, some of the residents who meet eligibility standards are allowed to return. In the case of Capper Carrollsburg in neighboring Navy Yard which was redeveloped through HUD’s Hope VI program, it’s been about a decade since the old buildings were demolished and many former residents remain displaced. In contrast, a “Build First” model allows development of other parcels in the vicinity of the area to be redeveloped first so residents move only once, then redevelopment can occur. In theory “Build First” a great idea, but in practice it is difficult to implement since there usually isn’t enough land available or the political will to do it.
The CBCC, along with other neighborhood groups have been working for months on how to implement a “Build First” strategy for Greenleaf, so existing residents are not displaced from Southwest while the public housing complex is redeveloped over the next several years. Ward 6 Council member Charles Allen has also expressed support. As the ANC resolution states, there are 21 publicly-owned sites in Southwest that could potentially be used to help meet this goal. One of the components of Greenleaf is a seniors building on Delaware Avenue and M street, and displacement would be more of a hardship to this population, so the focus has been on finding a site to build a mixed-income seniors building. The Unity Clinic site at Delaware Avenue and I Street has been identified as a potential location for such a complex, combining health services and mixed income seniors housing. While the three-story Unity Clinic building is a historic landmark, there is the potential to build residential on top of and on land adjacent to the clinic.
Don’t forget there will be a charrette tomorrow afternoon hosted by DCHA regarding Greenleaf’s redevelopment from 1-3pm at Westminster (400 I Street), which is open to the public.