Proposed Low(er) Income Development in Eckington

Background from DC North: “Collaborating with Catholic Community Services, St. Martin’s plans to spend some $25 million to construct 180 apartments on two acres off T Street NE near where Todd and Summit streets intersect. Fifty junior one-bedroom units are designated for renters earning between $18,000 and $20,000 annually. The rest are designed for families with incomes ranging from about $30,000 to about $53,000.”

It’s a tough topic. On one hand, I think that affordable workforce housing is very needed in DC and the right form of it can truly benefit the city.

However, high density, low income rental housing has proven not to be the “steppingstone” that ANC Commissioner Cleopatra Jones claims it is in the DC North article. What DC really needs are homeownership programs targeting those that are priced out of the market.

This area of DC has more than paid its dues with low income rentals, group homes, halfway houses and a mixed bag of cooperatives. Too high a concentration of low income housing without an ownership stake can block development in a community. Heck, even low income housing with an ownership stake can turn problematic (Sursum Corda). The North Capitol corridor can already check the low income housing box. Why don’t we diversify by adding something new to the area?

So here’s my suggestion. Quit putting low income housing on the N. Cap corridor. We have enough of it already. Friendship Heights has very little. Let’s share the economic diversity of the N. Cap corridor with the other parts of DC that sorely need it. Like Spring Valley. Or Cleveland Park.

Instead of having Vincent Orange going up there and providing cheap gas for the affluent folks, why don’t we send him up there on a fact finding trip to locate an alternative site for the next low income housing endeavor?

5 thoughts on “Proposed Low(er) Income Development in Eckington”

  1. Well said; I agree with all of it.

    It appears that the ANC has coupled with the church organization promoting this project, and together they are using a former DC housing official to spin the project.

    That former housing official, Neal Drobenare, resigned from his post with the city before he could be judged by the results of an official investigation into his conduct.

    Here are the details which already appeared on Bloomingdale and Eckington listservs:

    In an attempt to learn more about Mr. Drobenare, his business, and his past successes, I found an ethics violation on his part when he was employed by the city’s housing authority.

    He had an improper relationship with someone related to a developer and was also the recipient of a $3,000,000 loan for the development of affordable housing. (Them’s taxpayer dollars, folks)

    Facts are facts; I’m not pulling up anything that is not currently a matter of public record. Here is how the General Counsel’s office concluded its preliminary findings document concerning Mr. Drobenare’s ethics:

    “By virtue of the fact that he is no longer employed at DHCD, Mr. Drobenare has been removed from the environment which resulted in the prohibited conduct. Had Mr. Drobenare remained an employee of DHCD, it would have been my recommendation that the Director advise the agency head to change his assigned duties or disqualify him for a particular assignment, pursuant to §§1801.2(a) and (d).

    I finally recommend the Director to advise Mr. Drobenare to avail himself of the resources made available through the Ethics Counselor, with respect to any future employee conduct issues, pursuant to §1812 of the Standards of Conduct.

    Kathy S. Williams
    General Counsel”

    This information was found at [] . The first two entries on this list are Neal Drobenare’s name. Interesting reading.

  2. as i understand it, the church wants to maintain ownership of the property.
    this is going to get very ugly.

    the dialogue between the community and the developers is becoming very mean spririted.

  3. As a resident of Cleveland Park, I agree with you. It’s better for everybody, especially those supposedly helped by the low income units, if they’re spread out to make the city more heterogenous. (There have been studies done, sorry I don’t have the citations.) Our neighbors are so NIMBY that even middle and upper income high density units are opposed. Somehow they think they live in the suburbs. I think the ANCs need to have less power and the city needs to start looking at itself as a whole instead of individual neighborhoods.

  4. Sarah,

    I lived in Cleveland Park for one year, and on CT Ave in the Van Ness area for four years. It is a nice area, but it really doesn’t look or feel like DC. It is more like a bedroom community for people with jobs in DC. Everything Northwest of Rock Creek Park may as well be re-annexed by MD – at least the Chevy Chase area of DC.

    Your comments are refreshing and encouraging.

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