I honestly cannot remember who I was talking to about affordable housing, but somewhere in the discussion I wondered aloud about the long term plan for such projects. What happens 30 years after the building or complex built to house the poor is completed and the people for whom the effort was made move in? In my work, I have come across building projects from the past (early 20th Century past) like Greenbelt, the socially conscious Washington Sanitary Improvement Company's 2 flat units along Bates, and St. Mary's Court in Foggy Bottom. The Greenbelt cooperative was never created to serve the poorest. The homes formerly part of the WSIC portfolio of rental housing mostly are now privately owned homes, many renovated into single unit townhomes, while very few are still 2 flats. St. Mary's Court, formerly public housing during the Roosevelt era, now is a different structure (same name and area) and is HUD-financed senior housing. Things happen, things change.
So I wonder what is the future for 1330 formerly the Immaculate Conception Apartments, and the Lincoln-Westmoreland buildings, now according to the banner, "Heritage at Shaw Station". The Kelsey Garden Apartments, owned by some church in SE DC, is long gone and by next year should be luxury-ish apartments. The many, many, many properties in Shaw owned or once owned by the United House of Prayer for All People (UHOP) are varied in the income levels of people they house, but in the past ten years has been going more market rate and above. As much as I dislike all the Suzane Reatig UHOP structures going up in Shaw, it is still better than the Shiloh Baptist properties left to rot. The few things that appear not to be going the way of market rates or senior housing are the two Northwest Co-operatives. Though they say with investments, past performance is no guarantee of future results, what can the past efforts of affordable housing tell us about the future and the present?
Gentrification, demographic change, does play a part in all this. If there wasn't economic and other changes and pressures there would be little need or political or economic will to change. As I go down Seventh Street NW, looking at all the construction, I am a little sad for what was lost, but more excited about what is to come.