DC’s Comprehensive Plan needs to treat displacement as a serious problem

Jul 14th, 2017 | By | Category: Community, News & Features

A growing Washington, DC is a good thing, but that growth done poorly can lead to painful changes for lower-income people who have made the city their home through boom and bust. The Comprehensive Plan could manage growth in a way that doesn’t pit the needs of our burgeoning population and the needs of more vulnerable residents against one another.

As DC continues to grow, many affordable communities are being considered for redevelopment, either because repairs are desperately needed or because the owner’s commitments or leases are expiring. In some cases these sites represent opportunities to not only renovate buildings in disrepair, but also add more homes to the community. The fear and risk is that this same redevelopment means losing existing cheaper housing that many must have if they’re going to stay in the community.

GGWash contributor Pete Rodrigue covered one such development, Brookland Manor, in depth. At that particular site, the owner is proposing to redevelop an aging complex of subsidized affordable and market-rate affordable homes into a mixed-income community with much greater density.

While the owners have agreed to keep many of the subsidized homes there, advocates and community members have rallied against the project because current plans would not replace every single unit of low-cost housing that’s currently there.

I’ve heard from these advocates and others about their deep anger and frustrations about this process. They feel that when the development comes under review, there are not enough tools to fight against displacement.

The current Comprehensive Plan, a land use document that guides city wide policy and individual zoning cases, describes the problem of displacement but offers little in terms of clear actions to prevent it. Here is the one and only policy in the Housing Element of the Comp Plan that directly addresses displacement:

Policy H-2.1.3: Avoiding Displacement

Read more @ GGWash.org

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