Category Archives: Construction

WTF! DCHA? DC Housing Authority Over the Past Few Years

APR 2021

DCHA Internal Auditor Resigned After Reporting Intimidation and Retaliation — “At this point, I don’t have confidence that the Board of Commissioners or other senior executives will exercise integrity in the performance of their public duties.”

MAR 2021

DCHA Audit Finds $1.3 Million In Wasted Funds — The D.C. Housing Authority did not disclose the audit in its responses to the Council’s annual oversight questions.

DCHA Executive Director Accuses Former Deputy of Planning a Coup — In a deposition, DCHA Director Tyrone Garrett says he fired his deputy because she plotted to overthrow him. Chelsea Andrews, the former deputy who is now suing DCHA, says that’s ridiculous.

FEB 2021

Against Advice of Attorneys and Internal Auditors, DCHA Kept Families in Units With Lead Past Legal Deadline — DCHA Executive Director Tyrone Garrett says he was out of options.

OCT 2020

Greenleaf Gardens Redevelopment Stalls Early With Failed Resolution — It’s another delay for Director Tyrone Garrett’s revitalization plan.

SEP 2020

CM Silverman Questions Housing Authority Commissioner’s Abrupt Dismissal — The at-large councilmember suggests Franselene St. Jean was removed to silence dissenting voices.

August 2020

A DCHA commissioner was removed shortly after asking questions about a whistleblower lawsuit and other issues surrounding the housing authority.

Former Housing Authority Lawyer Files Whistleblower Lawsuit Over Allegedly Counterfeit Masks — Chelsea Andrews claims DCHA Executive Director Tyrone Garrett had her fired after she questioned the procurement and authenticity of KN95 masks.

JAN 2020

DCHA’s “Repositioning” Plan is Privatization of Public Housing

DEC 2019

The Final Proposal to Renovate the DC Housing Authority’s HQ Is Totally Different From the Original Plan — A trio of developers will pay DCHA $67 million for a 99-year lease on the land where its headquarters sits, according to the resolution.

DC Streetcar Extension Debate :: “Nostalgic Gentrification”

Nostalgic Gentrification As A Development Tool Vs. A More Practical And Budget Friendly Use of Circulator Buses

Transit Opinion by: Iris McCrea, Ward 7 Resident and Fort Dupont Civic Association Member

. . .

The position of the Fort Dupont Civic Association is against the extension of the Streetcar beyond the Langston Golf Course at Oklahoma Avenue, NE to East Capitol Street and Benning Road NE. However, we do support transit-oriented development along Benning Road and through sub-neighborhoods from Oklahoma Avenue to Southern Avenue which is even beyond the proposed end of the streetcar route.

. . .

[T]he Fort Dupont Civic Association strongly recommends the use of the Circulator Buses starting at Oklahoma Avenue instead of streetcars.

See Full Statement Here.

DCHA’s “Repositioning” Plan is Privatization of Public Housing

On Friday, January 31, 2020, Councilmember Anita Bonds who chairs the DC Council Housing Committee, hosted a hearing on the DC Department of Housing Authority (DCHA) and their “respositioning” plan for DC’s public housing stock — real homes where real people live and have real personal and professional networks.

Some public housing residents were in attendance and testified to the deplorable conditions that Chairwoman Bonds has heard about with public housing continually for years — mold, pipes leaking, rodents, infrastructure, etc.

There were ANC Commissioners and Ward 6 Public Housing residents there, like Commissioner Rhonda Hamilton who says she knows of pets living in better conditions than that provided at housing managed by DCHA.

There were other residents testifying from Greenleaf Public Housing in the Southwest, DC, Ward 6, testifying about the terrible living conditions that must be repaired now, not over a 17-year DCHA plan.

Mrs. Shawnta High, President of the Park Morton Residents Council in Ward 1 describes how DCHA has begun the plan to “revitalize” her community. She speaks about being thrown out of her home of nearly twenty years by DCHA’s repositioning plan.

Denise Thomas lives/ed in Ward 7’s Kenilworth Gardens, which has seen DCHA begin its “repositioning” on her home and neighborhood and how its destroying all of it.

Chris Otten, a DCHA client in Ward 1, describes what it is like living in a DCHA-subsidized unit that is managed by a private slumlord with toxic dust and mildew never being remedied.

Paulette Matthews, bounced from Barry Farms Public Housing in Ward 8, now lives in Ward 1, who describes the horrendous disruption from displacement and how it has changed her life and that of her family.

Councilmember Elissa Silverman actually sums it up DCHA’s “repositioning” plan during her opening remarks:

I am extremely concerned that DCHA is not just drifting away from serving its most vulnerable residents but deliberately abandoning our most vulnerable residents. I fear that DCHA has grown into an appendage of the real-estate division of our Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED). And, this is going to lead to the continued gentrification of our city.

For the full Council video, all 13GB’s of it, click this link.

Myth Busting!

Housing: Supply & Demand MYTHBUSTING!

In a recent post to a popular DC listserve, there was this comment:

A new ADU (and ADUs at scale) will “contribute to affordability” in terms of adding supply, and thereby reducing the overall pressure for price appreciation and the concomitant pressure to convert existing lower priced housing to standards and expectations which satisfy higher priced segments of the market.

Richard Layman rlaymandc@yahoo.com, Saturday, February 1, 2020, Comment on Columbia Heights listserve columbia_heights@yahoogroups.com

The above intriguing comment seems to not consider the concept that #HousingIsNotACommodity and rather #HousingIsAHumanRight . . . right?

Moreover, the lack of a race and class analysis in pubic discussions around housing and jobs at this point is frustratingly maddening. Essentially, one can enjoy a “LIVABALE WALKABLE” city only if you are young, professional, single, and likely white.

Going to the facts spells that housing is a human need not a product and exposes this false sense that supply of any new housing relieves some kind of “pressure.”


First, let’s take a gander at the Income Gap analysis vis-a-vis housing costs in the City:
* https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/local/wp/2016/11/02/net-worth-of-white-households-in-d-c-region-is-81-times-greater-than-black-households/
* https://www.dcfpi.org/all/economic-inequality-in-dc-reflects-disparities-in-income-wages-wealth-and-economic-mobility-policy-solutions-should-too/

economic-inequality-blog-fig1-768x908.png

This means the posture of continuing to construct more and more of the status quo unaffordable housing for single wealthy professionals without an equally important push for getting longtime DC residents and Black families real jobs with real pay to be able to stay here during the modern day goldrush is simply ignorant and discriminatory. 

And, even if policy makers and the Mayor could wrangle some economic systems that actually helps longtime DC residents and families, there’s no way they will be implemented in a timely way to keep up or be substantial enough to help most people becoming more and more vulnerable to displacement. 

The HOT real estate market in DC is appreciating way too fast for most folks to keep up with rents, taxes, and housing costs generally:
* https://dc.curbed.com/washington-dc-market-reports
* https://www.bizjournals.com/washington/news/2019/09/04/as-d-c-area-housing-market-booms-researchers-warn.html

Bottom-line, given the absolute real estate fire of the last decade and construction of tens of thousands of unaffordable single professional housing, there is absolutely no excuse that anyone should be pushing the idea that constructing any housing type at any cost is ok without a race and class analysis, especially considering the ballyhoo’d equitable development as expressed in Comp Plan Framework changes.


MORE FACTS THAT DISPEL SUPPLY & DEMAND MYTH:

NEW UNITS DON’T BRING PRICES DOWN

The DC Zoning Chair suitably explains as follows:

Tens of thousands of new largely luxury studios/1bedrooms have been built in DC, but prices keep going up and up and up:
* https://twitter.com/ecoylogy/status/1224692194277298179
* https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/z3bnme/tons-of-new-apartments-are-being-built-that-almost-no-one-can-afford

DC POPULATION GROWTH SLOWING DOWN

The influx of DC newcomers (old rhetoric: 1,000 new people a month as routinely expressed by Council Chairman Phil Mendelson) has become a trickle now, and in some months there’s more a net exit of people.
https://wamu.org/story/19/01/30/the-reason-d-c-s-once-dramatic-population-growth-is-slowing-down-and-why-thats-not-so-bad/

WE MUST ACCOUNT FOR THE CURRENTLY VACANT UNITS IN THE CITY

So what of the 30,000 vacant units according to the census, where the vacancy information gathered by the American Housing Survey (AHS) conducted biennially by the U.S. Census (more info about the survey below) shows this:

Screen Shot 2019-12-17 at 6.19.35 AM.png

This table (B25004) represents the 5-year estimate from the AHS for Washington, D.C.  This timeframe reflects 60 months of collected data and is the most reliable metric for estimating how many housing units fall into each of these categories.  There are also 1-year and 3-year estimates, explained here.  The Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) is the smallest level at which the survey reports data.

The substantial numbers of vacant units demonstrate how much foreign investment capital is parking itself in these new luxury buildings:
https://www.bisnow.com/washington-dc/news/capital-markets/foreign-investment-in-dc-expected-to-increase-next-year-102315

Empty units do not create successful inclusive DC communities.


The biggest purveyors of the supply & demand myth are the so-called urbanists — largely white single professionals moving back into the cities after their grandparents and parents failed suburban experience, or their cohorts from the mega-real estate industry. 

We’ve asked them to publicly debate these issues openly: David Alpert, Alex Baca, and Cheryl Cort.
* https://ggwash.org/about/staff-board
* https://www.smartergrowth.net/about/contactstaff/


In conclusion:

IF WE WANT A SUCCESSFUL INCLUSIVE CITY — THAT MEANS WE GOTTA HAVE POLICIES AND PEOPLE THAT ESPOUSE SUCH IDEALS, NOT JUST STATE THE RHETORIC. WE ALSO HAVE TO HAVE REAL FACTS AND PEOPLE-CENTERED ANALYSIS BEFORE US, NOT JUST REAL ESTATE DOGMA.

Paving Over McMillan

McMillan Park #Facts

Save McMillan Park #FACTS

Context: McMillan Park is 25+ acres of open land at North Capitol Street and Michigan Avenue, NW, still largely as it was when the federal government opened it in 1905 to control typhoid and other water-borne diseases in the city. Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., it was a public, integrated park until WWII, when it was closed for security purposes. The national and local historic landmark, with panoramic views of downtown Washington, was bought by the city in 1987 for $9.3M. Take a look at the history of the federally protected historic landmark at McMillan Park.

The Mayor’s McMillan Plan and Behavior:

The proposed plan is to privatize and demolish McMillan Park as we know it in order to build two+ million square feet of residential, commercial and medical space. This plan has in part been approved by the DC Zoning Commission, the Mayor’s Agent for Historic Preservation and a premature DCRA demolition permit has been issued. These decisions are being appealed, with a temporary stay now in effect from the DC Court of Appeals.

Reasons to Halt Demolition & Save McMillan:

  • Because the closest Metro stop is over a mile away, the project will generate 20,000 new vehicle trips/day at N. Capitol/Michigan Ave. and there’s been no study of impacts to emergency responders and on this emergency route from center city;
  • Health effects will worsen for an area of the city with some of the highest asthma rates, especially in our children;
  • The major land, water and air impacts from the massive demolition and construction have only been superficially examined;
  • The District requirement for an environmental impact statement/assessment has been ignored;
  • Cell 14, the most north-east sand filtration water cell, is being used now by DC Water to prevent nearby flooding when ever it rains;
  • The number of truly affordable units for families, about 25, is embarrassingly low for a project that will have some of the most expensive residential units in the city;
  • Residents and businesses will be displaced by the inevitable rise in property values, stimulated by the panoramic views;
  • The DC Auditor questioned the ethics in a lack of competition in picking the developer;
  • The DC Government is paying millions for lawyers, architects and others, including to a Baltimore pr firm to “neutralize public opposition;”
  • The new library requested by the community is absent;
  • See more details of the corruption around McMillan Park here.

sign the MCMILLAN PARK petition
CLICK HERE

MW COG

MW COG SETS 2030 HOUSING NUMBERS

UPDATE ON SEP. 11, 2019, MEETING AT METRO WASHINGTON COUNCIL OF GOVERNMENTS (COG) REGARDING HOUSING IN THE DMV THROUGH 2030

On September 11, 2019, the COG passed a joint resolution that sets into motion the coordination of housing preservation and production targets across the DMV. The goal: 320,000 new or preserved housing units by 2030, and of these 2/3 of the units should be considered “affordable.” Chair of the COG, DC City Councilmember, Robert White, emphasized that these units should be built to include 3+ bedroom units, aka family-sized units.

Find the COG documentation and resolution below:

* https://www.mwcog.org/newsroom/2019/09/11/officials-set-regional-housing-targets-call-for-collaboration-to-address-production-and-affordability-challenges/

============================
RESOLUTION R27-2019
============================

Major points:

  • 320K Housing Units Added 2020-2030 (an additional 75,000 units beyond units already forcast)
  • 75% of all new housing should be located in activity centers and around high activity transit (see definitions above)
  • 75% of all new housing should be “affordable” to lower- and moderate-income housing (see definitions above).
  • To share these goals to all constituents and set targets for each jurisdictions.
  • To work with non profit private and philathnropic entities to advance these goals

ROBERT WHITE — AYES UNANIMOUS RESOLUTION MWCOG R27-2019 PASSES SEP 11 2019

============================
DEFINITIONS
============================

In reviewing the resolution and information from the COG about the Housing Production targets please understand the following definitions as they can be interpreted:

  • Accessibility — Locating housing close to transportation, transit centers, or “activity centers.” This term has almost nothing to do with universal accessibility a principle of the disability advocacy community.
  • Affordable Housing — Housing that costs $2,500/m or less. There is no mention of bedroom sizes or housing costs as a percentage of one’s income. It is strictly the government setting levels of profit making, shifting market forces and volatility from the private sector onto the public.

============================
NEWS REPORTS
============================

Some news reports that came out after:

============================
OMISSIONS IN THE DISCUSSION
============================

The following are basic planning concepts that wasn’t discussed at all or just briefly by COG before passing the resolution:

  • Expiring Affordability — What is the duration of affordable covenants that may run with the land? Shouldn’t we be ensuring that any new or preserved affordable housing exist in perpetuity.  What’s the point of expiring affordable housing covenants?
  • Public / Universal Housing — The COG made no mention of the importance of public housing and public land while setting these housing targets.  Public housing is a permanent safety net to prevent homelessness.
  • Analysis of $2500/m — How realistic is it to say “affordable” housing set at $2,500 a month.  Doesn’t this just push the status quo?

============================
SOME QUOTES FROM THE COG MEETING
============================

* CHRISTIAN DORSEY, ARLINGTON, COG — “Ready and willing to do our part” “I love three simplistic targets” “This is a big setp for our region” “Our region has failed to effectively deal with housing” “Its complicated” “Roads are full of traffic” “Net effect people are harmed” “Targets are based on thoughtful analysis” “Provide accountability” “Concept of regionalism should not be understated” “lets get it done, im excited”

* DERRICK DAVIS, PG COUNTY, COG — “we explored, what the heck is ami” “no better place to be than the dmv” quotes victor hoskins … as a great thinker.  “messaging is absolutely important, crucial to drive home, to give politicos the right message to communicate with our folks”

* JOHN FOUST, FAIRFAX — “economic development critical” “Fairfax board has committed to 5,000 units over 15 years”

* NANCY NAVARRO, MOCO — asks about the “defintion of high impact areas” when referencing jbg report; emphasizes “social justice and racial equity”

* JUSTIN WILSON, ALEX — “addressing concerns about impacts such as overcrowding schools”

* BEV PERRY, DC — “more work needs to be done”

* KATE STEWART, TKPK — “Board Retreat was helpful” quotes Matthew Desmond “Its hard to argue that housing is not an fundamental human need” … “we’ve been echoing that sentiment” “this is an historic event today” “wants to partner with Mont County”

* RUTH ANDERSON, PRINCE WILLIAM, — “Cast vote in favor” “this will help us forge our comprehensive plan”

* SENATOR GEORGE BARKER, VA, “we gotta keep stepping things up” “things already happening that are pushing us in the right direction” “fairfax is doing a tremendous job in preservng affordable housing”

* BRIDGET NEWTON, ROCKVILLE — “i think this is wonderful what we are doing with housing” “something mr jackson said, taking over current garden style neighborhoods and that we need to build hi-rises — its a problem. its a quality of life issue, displacement of current families. there’s something to be said about having a balcony, to play outide, etc.” “we don’t need 2 types — hi rise or single family” “we need a mix of housing and therefore we lived in communities with all kinds of careers and picture, and we must look at the whole picture” “climate of fear — when people hear about more housing they immediate fear the impacts to roads and schools”

* TODD TURNER, PG — “impacts that come along with the housing” “what the pressure brings to things like infrastructure” “we have to be very careful about that”

* SHARON BULOVA, FAIRFAX — abt to introduce resolution “region forward compact in 2010” “we’ve had more success in the goals than we’ve realized” ** “our air is better” “we set targets to clean up our air, and we’ve done that.” “amazon — needs affordable housing” “we need to make sure weh have housing and quality of life for the industry we want to attract and retain in our region” “we want to create affordable housing for the folks we want to work here and live here”

===
end
===

DC Generally a Mess: Timeline

DC General Hospital was hailed as a top emergency trauma center for victims with gunshot wounds, that is until Anthony Williams shut it down as part of the citywide divestment of public services serving working DC residents at the start of the millennium.

2001 – 2013

Over the past decade plus, DC General shifted from a closed hospital to an emergency hypothermia shelter, then to a family shelter as other shelters around the city were shuttered continuing the social service divestment in DC.  The shelter filled up as local politicos luxury-visions for, and gentrification of the city unfolded and homelessness skyrocketed.  Families were forced to pile into expensive motels (and still are today).   Christmas back at DC General was a depressing exercise.

2014

In 2014, the DMV was shocked by the story of Relisha Rudd, a young child living at the shelter who disappeared, furthering calls to close the shelter down.

2015

in 2015, the DC Council had already voted to support the Mayor’s $300 million dollar dispersed family shelter plan and subsequent real estate deals.  In the discussion, Mary Cheh (Ward 3 Councilmember), declares “What’s wrong with us?” as they weaken basic amenities at the proposed family shelters.

2016

Starting off 2016, Mayor Bowser unveils her plan to shut down DC General so she can replace the shelter beds in new family shelters across the city. Legislative support was affirmed again by DC Council vote in 2016, making the closure required by law.

2017

There was immediate pushback by some DC neighborhoods, but with Council support & zoning agency approvals certain to follow, the Ward-based shelter plans moved forward in 2017.

2018

In 2018, the DC General closure plans get real for the families at the city’s biggest, and only shelter available to them in the city.  Advocates speak up and say “Families, not Developers, Must be Primary Drivers of DC General Timeline” as the Mayor discretely sought Amazon’s pick to land in DC.  The Mayor wasn’t budging, DC General will close by year’s end.

As voices got louder both in critique and in seeking clarity about DC General’s closure, transition of current shelter families, and planning for Ward-based shelters, DC Councilmembers started growing spines and demanding answers and holding hearings.

What became clear at the hearings was the rush to raze all buildings at Reservation 13 (the public land where DC General exists) will impact the lives and health of families still living at DC General. The Mayor’s homeless service executives were exposed as frauds.

People demanded the shelter closure be delayed.

Advocates turned up the heat heading into June and July, 2018, gathering steam for the Council to consider legislation that would delay the closure.  Pushback from the Mayor led to the Council weakening the bill, disappointing advocates, and indeed leaving the families now at DC General exposed to injury.

DC is considered a United Nations Human Rights City.  In the midst of the DC General controversies, a report was published showing how the city policies and politcos are falling short as to this acclaim.

 

July is HOT & So Are the People!

JUST BEFORE THE 2018 LEGISLATIVE SUMMER BREAK — THE DC CITY COUNCIL IS HOLDING ROUNDTABLES, HEARINGS, AND VOTES THAT DEMONSTRATE, OR NOT, HOW MUCH THE CITY CARES FOR CULTURE, FAMILIES, AND HISTORY OF THE DISTRICT.

DC Feedback put out our press release with an update on the July calendar here.

and . . . RUN FOR ANC!

Tax Increment Financing, It will TIF you off

Tax Increment Financing (TIF) is a municipal financial scheme whereby DC taxpayers fund and support private development projects throughout the city.

TIFs allow the diversion of taxes that would otherwise be generated by these new projects away from the city’s general budget for social needs (schools, parks, affordability, services, etc.), and instead these taxes are used to pay back private bankers whom authorized the TIF credit and municipal loan.

TIFs act as blank checks from the public to fund and externalize private development costs and is considered a form of corporate welfare.


Governments often use TIF resources to prepare land for development or redevelopment. In addition, governments may use TIF revenues to underwrite certain public structures, such as parking garages. If permissible under state statute, the construction of municipal facilities can be financed using TIF revenues. An Elected Official’s Guide to TAX INCREMENT FINANCING by Nicholas Greifer & The Government Finance Officers Association, July 2007.


The most recent District of Columbia TIF is for Union Market developers.

WARD 5 TIF

THE SOUTHWEST WATERFRONT aka WHARF TIF

The Living Social TIF Gift

TIFs as political hot potatoes, a DC neighborhood-level discussion in Bloomingdale in 2010.


Many of the District’s special deals have been very costly. In 2002, Gallery Place, a mixed-use transit-oriented development, received about $80 million in subsidies. To sell the TIF bonds for just this one project, DC had to pledge that incremental sales tax revenue from a much larger area would be made available if necessary. In 2006, another development in a quickly gentrifying neighborhood, the DC-USA mall project anchored by a Target store, received a $42 million TIF package. The District justified the deal in part by claiming it would enhance sales tax revenue in the surrounding neighborhood (DC has a problem with sales tax “leakage” to Maryland and Virginia), but DC has no method of tracking sales tax by location to determine if that worked. Good Jobs First, “Tracking Subsidies, Promoting Accountability in Economic Development,” Accountable USA – District of Columbia webpage.


ANALYSIS: Before [Baltimore] City Hall loved TIFs, it shunned them as bad policy

Tax Increment Financing: A comparison between Washington, D.C. and Chicago, by Jasson Perez, University of Illinois Chicago, 2015.

DCRA Threatens DC Property Owners; Lawsuits

Based on the recent Council hearings, it has become clear that the DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) has exposed DC taxpayers and property owners to negligence and serious injury with a lack of accountability from the Mayor and Council.

A review of the October 24, 2017, City Council hearing shows numerous cases of fraud and injury perpetrated by this agency and the director, Melinda Bolling, who was chosen to lead this agency by Mayor Bowser.

This follows on in a series of hearings that the Council acts out before the taxpayers, but does little else to enforce the laws or address accountability.