New Deal in Housing

I glad for the folks featured in the Post’s Housing Program Chalks Up Win ( but this is still shiny and new. Hopefully they will be able to keep up the maintenance and keep it a desirable place for both the public assistance and the market rate renters.

What does this have to do with Shaw? Nothing directly. Indirectly it is a housing issue, and Shaw has housing issues. There are a few public housing projects around and about Shaw and housing projects tend to be the targets of these new ideas.

The question I have about these type of mixed income projects that never show up as an answer is what’s the long term view? They don’t give too many examples of previous mixed income projects that have been around for a long period of time. I wonder will the market rate people stick around after the newness rubs off, as market rate people have more choices and opportunities. I think of Boston’s Harbor Point/Columbia Point, not far from the JFK Presidential Library where I interned one summer. Of course, this was a nice waterfront housing project, stuck in a somewhat questionable (according to some Bostonian friends) neighborhood. That is usually pointed to as a success.

Another thing about the Post article was a brief mention of programs for tenants. There was another Post article a week or so back about apartments in Eckington/Brookland area where it no longer looks like a projects building, that also had programs for tenants. This, I believe, is very important. People need real jobs, the training to get and keep those jobs, and programs to keep them from falling. Change the decor all you want, but without jobs you’re not doing a thing to combat poverty and poor conditions that helped the environment to go down. Also in the creation of mixed income housing, those low income folks who can possibly move into mid-income (easier said than done, I know) levels, may have a greater chance of staying in the new development. If Harbor Point is a model, then 2/3 of the tenants must be mid-income. If it is one-for-one replacement or less, with those ratios the low income residents will lose spots in the new project.