Social Housing Policy Discussed at ANC 6A

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Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC 6A) met via Zoom on Feb. 8. Commissioners Keya Chatterjee (6A01, vice chair), Mike Velasquez (6A02), Roberta Shapiro (6A03), Amber Gove (6A04, chair), Dave Wethington (6A05) and Steve Moilanen (6A07) were in attendance. Commissioner Robb Dooling (6A06) was absent.

Founder and Executive Director of The Center for Social Housing and Public Investment (www.socialhousingcenter.org), Will Merrifield, briefed commissioners on the challenges facing residents in need of social housing. The District has taken steps to institute inclusionary zoning, noted Merrifield. The Housing Production Trust Fund, the Preservation Fund and voucher-based programs for residents have helped, but significant gaps remain, he said.

“A lot of what’s built in Washington, DC are class A luxury apartments,” Merrifield said. “We are not building things that rationally and efficiently meet the needs of residents in the District of Columbia; we’re building things that private equity is looking to invest in.”

The Green New Deal for Housing Act, introduced by Ward 4 Councilmember Janeese Lewis George, allows the District to build “thriving transit-connected neighborhoods” and ensure that the largest percentage of housing is “deeply affordable” for working class residents, said Merrifield. George’s proposal includes the creation of “The Office of Social Housing.” This new agency would buy, build and manage properties across the city and provide operational oversight for maintenance, he said.

The specifics of the bill raised eyebrows of some commissioners. “This is not a way to house people,” commented Commissioner Chatterjee on privately owned apartments. She looked forward to learning more about how to stabilize and increase availability of social housing.

“I don’t share your same optimism about creating another DC agency to provide oversight,” Commissioner Velasquez stated. He suggested a “quasi-governmental” approach as a possible alternative.

Other Matters

The commission voted to:

• approve a $1,000 grant for Maury Elementary School, 1250 Constitution Ave. NE, to establish an outdoor garden;

• support the District Department of Transportation’s (DDOT) plan for bus priority lanes on H Street NE;

• request DDOT prioritize longstanding Traffic Safety Input at the intersections of 13th and I Streets NE, 14th and A Streets NE, 15th NE and A Streets NE, 15th Street NE and Constitution Avenue NE, 14th Street NE and Tennessee Avenue NE and E Street NE and Tennessee Avenue NE;

• request DDOT provision automated traffic enforcement, reconsider speed tables and raised crosswalks on the 800 block of West Virginia Avenue

• request DDOT conduct a signal study at the intersection of Eighth Street NE and West Virginia Avenue NE;

• support a limited term stipulated license for Smoking Pig at 1208 H St. NE.

The next meeting of ANC 6A is at 7 p.m. March 14 via Zoom. Get details on committee meetings and how to join online at anc6a.org.

Sarah Payne is a reporter for Capital Community News. She can be reached at sarahp@hillrag.com.