Meeting about the Future of the Old Hebrew Home on June 17th

1125 Spring Road, NW

Thanks to all who sent emails about the future of the old Hebrew Home on Spring Road:

“Please find below an invitation to voice your input directly to D.C. government officials regarding the proposal from D.C. General Services and D.C. Housing Authority to renovate the former Hebrew Home (1125 Spring Rd NW – large vacant historic building on Spring Street between 10th and 13th Streets. Next to Raymond Recreation Center and Education Campus) into 80-90 affordable/workforce housing units. Commissioner Galloway (Ward4C06) has arranged this meeting for the community to ensure all of us most directly impacted by this development can voice our suggestions, concerns, etc… directly to those considering a way forward (Thanks Commissioner Galloway!).

At the May 14th ANC Ward 4C meeting it was emphasized that the proposal is still in the very early phases, and thus our input could absolutely make a difference in the direction of the project. Some community members voiced concern that the original proposal of converting the building into senior housing was no longer on the table to which the D.C. General Services representative offered that it doesn’t necessarily have to be off the table. The point being that it’s a great time to give your thoughts on how D.C. should move forward with this property. I hope you can join. Please share with others who will be impacted by this development.”

Other readers send:

“Residents are invited to meet with representatives from the District’s Department of General Services and DC Housing Authority to discuss the development of the properties (The Hebrew Home for the Aged and the Child and Family Services Agency) located at 1125 Spring Road, N.W.

Options are senior housing, mixed-use development, affordable housing, Veterans housing.

Come out and express your concerns.

Meeting Location:
Petworth Library 4200 Kansas Ave. NW Washington, DC 20011
Date / Time: June 17, 2014 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm

Vann-Di M. Galloway, DTM
Commissioner, Single Member District 4C06″


97 Comment

  • Affordable housing has been shown not to work well and doesn’t truly help those in need. Unfortunately, it can also lead to greater problems for the residents and community. Look at Park Morton. The best way to address affordable housing is a building with high-end, moderate and lower incomes all together. The Old Jewish Home is such a great building, can’t we do something that truly benefits all of the community? I would support mixed-use development, but I simply can’t support more affordable housing given the problems DC has at it’s complexes in Park View and Columbia Heights. As a nearby resident, I will be sure to participate in the public hearing. I encourage all others to do so as well.

    • It’s 100% low income, it’s a project. Whenever you concentrate that high a poverty rate into one building, it’s always bad news. Senior or mixed income housing would be supported.
      I think affordible housing thing should just be dropped, gentrification is always preferable to the blight and crime projects and low income housing bring. Nobody would oppose a senior living space or mixed income building, but people have EVERY right to oppose a low income project. It’s a failed government policy that needs to end citywide as soon as possible, and that means closing down the existing ones and not opening new ones. The city can do without any new low income crime incubators.

  • It’s worth noting that, absent any opposition from the community, the Mayor’s office would like to make this 100% public housing. That is most definitely NOT in the best interests of the neighborhood (or the city at large for that matter).

    If you’re not supportive of that idea, please come and voice your opinion.

    • 100% Public housing is an abject failure in almost ALL instances, we should be closing down the remaining units, not opening any more of them up, especially in neighborhoods which are improving. Those in the neighborhood should oppose it, in force.
      Public housing is a contagion of crime. No housing should be 100% low income. Mixed income, or senior ONLY housing, absolutely. But 100% low income would just increase the crime rate.
      But creating public housing effectively degrades a neighborhood. I think the neighborhood would be better off detroying the building then letting it become public housing. Better off in private hands with capped IZ, then public housing.

      The only way for ANY neighborhood to thrive is without public housing. 100% low income Public housing is a dated idea that does not work. DC will be significantly better if it eliminates it entirely. This should not go that direction AT ALL.

  • I’m going to attend this meeting. In my opinion, the current plan is a grave mistake. The Park Morton redevelopment has been stalled due to lack of space. This building should be added to the Park Morton redevelopment plan, which calls for 1/3 each low income, workforce, and market rate units.

  • Humm… something tells me local residents aren’t going to be too crazy about this. We need to create affordable housing in the city that is metro accessible; we can’t just push away all lower-income citizens across the river and call it a day. Diversity is key. I really hope that this plan goes through.

    • sorry but CH has enough public housing.

      • What about Petworth? I’m not aware of a plethora of public housing in Petworth.

        • This is on the Petworth/Columbia Heights border. But regardless of what neighborhood you want to call it – it’s in very close proximity to several other CH public housing projects on/near Georgia Ave.

        • The media called the Park Morton Complex where the 7 year old got shot Petworth even though it’s Park View. There are already two to three low income housing projects nearby the old Jewish Home. Smaller, but there are always problems there. This would be a disaster.

    • Unfortunately Columbia Heights/Petworth have more public housing than any other neighborhood in the city. Funny that the city never seems to find these types of buildings in Georgetown.

      • more than shaw?

        • Yes. I work for the city and have seen the sites mapped. Ward 1 concentrations in Columbia Hieghts are the densest in the City.

          • You clearly don’t work in affordable housing if you don’t know what’s public housing and what’s not. Your statement is simply incorrect.

      • This isn’t quite true. Check SE DC.

        • SE isn’t a neighborhood.

          • You’re being unnecessarily dense.

          • OK, Washington Highlands (about 475 units) and the SW Waterfront (over 800) each have more public housing than Columbia Heights and Petworth combined (about 450 if you count Park Morton as being in Petworth, about 280 if not).

      • Either you’re making things up or you don’t know what you’re talking about. In Columbia Heights there’s Garfield Terrace, which counts as either one or two developments, depending on whether you count the family property and the senior building as separate developments. Other neighborhoods have far more public housing. Now, if you want to complain about other forms of affordable housing (LIHTC, Section 8, etc.), go for it. But at least know what you’re complaining about.

        • garfeld terrace, Columbia Village, the Senior buildings and teh LIHTC buildings and the section 8 buildings add up to signifcant amounts of very low income housing. On par with SW at 800 units.

          • LIHTC and public housing are different things. In newer developments the tax credits have been combined with HUD public housing subsidy, but none of the LIHTC buildings in Columbia Heights are like that. LIHTC has different eligibility rules and income targets than public housing. Again, know what you’re talking about before you join in.

          • …and the statement was that “Columbia Heights/Petworth have more public housing than any other neighborhood in the city.” Not affordable housing, public housing.

    • Please define Low income housing that is “Metro Accessible?” For most places in the world, for all of time, that would mean a 30 -60 min. walk. Kids in many African towns walk 6-8 miles each way. As a kid in a frugal family, we walked 2 miles to school and back every day to save the 15 cent bus fare.

      • If you’re truly low income, you may very well not be riding metro, as it’s pretty expensive. You’re taking the bus.

      • why are you even mentioning Africa?

      • What a horrible argument. You do realize that we’re not “most places in the world”, right? By that same line of reasoning, you could argue that this “low income” housing effectively places these folks into the top 5-10% worldwide, so no biggie, eh?

        • OK – plain exact fact – I think that it is not unreasonable that people receiving tax money to live on should have to walk 1-2 miles (15 – 30 mi.) to access public transportation.

      • This comment wins the thread. Also wins “Whitest Comment Ever.” Congrats sir/ma’am.

        I wonder if you think the kids should carry the books on their heads.

  • WE NEED AS MANY PEOPLE IN THE COMMUNITY TO TURN OUT AS POSSIBLE. In addition, please contact your ANC Rep as well as Muriel Bowser’s staff. If you care about the neighborhood, you must voice your opinion.

    • This is also on the dividing line between Ward 1 and Ward 4. I’m guessing Graham is on his lame duck status – so can some CH residents reach out to Brianne Nadeau on this?

      • Exactly. Graham is lame duck right now, Brianne isn’t going to want jeopardize her election and Bowzer doesn’t give a crap since she’s headed for the mayor’s office. I’ve emailed my ANC rep in Ward 1 and never heard back. ANC4 commissioner Vann-Di Galloway has been VERY helpful

        • Galloway’s number one concern with area development seems to focus around parking. His main issue is wanting to not have our streets too crowded with parked cars. Personally, I’d much rather focus my neighborhood attention on getting rid of drug dealers and improving our school’s facilities (namely, Raymond). Call me a jerk, but public housing isn’t going to fix the drug dealing or crime problems.

          • Parking? Are you kidding me? How about crime? How about filling the vacant Park Place with places to eat or other retail. Parking??? How out of touch can a person be? And I’m in his ANC Zone! Shocked.

          • I don’t want to criticize Vann Di Galloway without hearing this directly from him, but if true, he is definitely not aware of what most of his constituents view as a priority. Parking is hardly a concern. He seems like a nice guy, but I haven’t been too impressed with his ability to get things done.

          • He is a really nice guy, but I agree on not seeming to have much of Councilmember Bowser’s ear (nor any other city officials that I’ve seen).

          • saf

            And stop signs.

  • CH resident here, i will be attending the meeting to OPPOSE more public housing. auction to place to private developers!

  • Will anyone from Office of Planning be there, and would anyone in that office be helpful? Because before I advocate for one use of the building over another, it would be helpful to have a holistic view of what projected demand will be in this area over the next 30 years, and what other projects are in the works.

    I am generally in favor of making housing affordable by increasing the supply at market rates (per Yglesias “Rent is Too Damn High” and other people). But I recognize the public equity in this building, and the unique opportunity to build densely near a metro/grocery store/minor commercial area.

  • FWIW, when this proposal was presented before ANC 1A, it was described as an affordable, workforce development with the upper tier of affordability for residents who earn around $61,000/year. It has never been described to me as public housing as has been suggested here.

    I think there are still a lot of details to work through including what the ideal mix of affordability for the units should be. I encourage everyone to participate so that the best possible outcome can be achieved.

    • That is public housing. The “upper tier” is $61,000 a year. Section 8 and other entitlement sources of income can be counted towards ‘income’ to qualify to stay there.

    • Upper tier is $61,000. UPPER TIER. Don’t be fooled by the government rhetoric. If this was approved, it would Park Morton Part II – except across the street from a grade school and playground.

      • are you suggesting that the upper tier be higher? 61k is a lot of money.

        • for a household… with kids?

          that doesn’t go very far here. that really is not a lot of money. you shouldn’t spend more than 30% of your income on housing.

          that would be $1500 a month. which is a one bedroom apartment. how many kids can you raise in a one bedroom apartment?

    • Yeah, Ken, it seems you’re willfully misconstruing what’s proposed here. A 100% subsidized building run by DCHA is public housing.

      • There is a difference between a building with people earning $61,000/yr who get a subsidy for part of their rent because they don’t make a specific percentage of the local median income, and a building of unemployed people with no incomes whose entire rent is subsidized.

    • “upper tier of affordability for residents who earn around $61,000/year.”

      ie. Max $61k per HOUSEHOLD.

    • Unfortunately “workforce housing” sounds great as a slogan, but the reality is different. While there are certainly households with moderate incomes that will apply, the vast majority of applicants will likely be Section 8 voucher holders. Most landlords (if they participate in the voucher program) will be quite happy to fill the building with these tenants, since their rents will be guaranteed. In contrast, the teacher earning $61K has no rent guarantee, and actually presents a greater rental risk to the landlord.

      • the problem is that DCHA is going to try to sell this to the communty as Public private “win” for the City. The hearing is actually about disposing of the property to sell to a private developer. But don’t be fooled, it will still be 100% low income housing. Very little of it will be workforce level housing.

      • The problem for owners is that a Secton 8 tenant – once in your apt. – can screw up – stop paying anying – and be dropped from the program so the government rent stops with no notice – leaving you with NO rental income and no way to evict the tenant in less than 6 months – more likely a year.

  • After listening to the DCGS/DCHA presentation at the ANC 4C meeting a few weeks ago, here are my concerns:

    #1 I respect the fact that there are many housing needs in the city: senior housing, affordable housing for families, and VA housing, and that DC needs to address whichever one they think it best suited for the Spring Street site. However, if our neighbors have been told for years that it would become senior housing, they deserve a very clear explanation about why the city is deviating from that plan.

    #2 If the city is going to promote this as “affordable housing for families”, why on earth are they thinking of including studios in the building? If they want to help families, they should only build 1, 2, and 3 bedroom apartments. The only reason I can think of building studios there is so that the city can claim that they’ve built a higher number of affordable housing units. Another problem with studios is that it will mean that there will be more units in the building, more traffic, and fewer parking spaces for neighbors.

    #3 Are there any examples of 100% affordable housing building actually being successful in this city? By successful, I mean that there is not an increase in crime and drugs in the area. I’m not an expert in DC housing policy, but I had heard that many new developments were 80% market value and 20% below market units. I imagine that ratio is unlikely to meet the demand for affordable housing, but there is a huge difference between 20% and 100% subsidized units in a building. If the New Communities Initiative is struggling to meet the 1/3 market rate, 1/3 workforce, 1/3 low income goal, how could a 100% affordable housing approach be feasible?

    • binpetworth

      I was also at the ANC4C meeting and agree with all of your points here. I would love to see this follow the original plan of becoming (affordable) senior housing. Seniors make great neighbors!

    • “By successful, I mean that there is not an increase in crime and drugs in the area. ”
      That’s literally zero part of the definition of the success of public housing (hint, its actual purpose is in its title). Who told you that justice and your personal comfort where at all related?

      • There are a lot of people who assume that “affordable housing” necessarily means people who are on public assistance. It does not. HUD defines “affordable housing” as not spending more than 30% of gross income on rent. Typically, affordability is pegged to the median income for the particular area. So affordable housing encompasses working class people who don’t make enough to live in an area with rising rents.

  • Hopefully affordable housing for working middle class people who do not have high incomes including teachers, counselors, service people (firefighters, police, military), those who have careers in the arts, small business owners… people who really want to live in the city and could contribute to its tax base.

    Not just for people on public assistance.

    • The problem here is what they are proposing is 100% low income. Which is rightfully going to get community opposition in spades. Why because low income public housing projects do not work at all.

  • Does anybody know occupancy rates at big apartment buildings nearby? Newly constructed buildings like Park Place and The Griffin, and recently renovated ones like The New Hampshire and The Quincy (UIP)? If those things are full-to-bursting, I’d be more inclined toward allowing a developer to pay the city lots of money fort the privilege of meeting demand in that market segment. If they find themselves unable to fill apartments or sustain high rental rates, I see the logic in providing opportunities for targeted groups (elderly, veterans, low-income, workforce, 2- or 3-bedroom rentals, etc etc) that are forecast to need housing.

    • last i checked, park place was at 95 percent occupancy. developers have been interested in 1125 for years.

  • My first choice is a DC copy of the McMenamins Hotel Kennedy School in Portland:

    Really AMAZING transformation of a similar sized building into a small boutique hotel.

    • I’d totally support this!

      • A boutique hotel in this part of town would actually work extraordinarily well. With the proximity to metro and the 11th street strip, it could be a pretty huge success. Does anyone have contacts at somewhere like Kimpton or McMenamins/others?

        • I hope all of the businesses on 11th Street weigh in on this… It’s so close and many people have to walk by the Old Jewish Home to get down to their restaurants.

        • when the hammer murder happened, everyone was wondering who the hell would rent out a basement apartment in petworth to a tourist.

          boutique hotel???

          • That was in a very residential part of Petworth, further north, far from commercial businesses or metro. Even with that said, the Intown Uptown up near Emerson seems to do well.

            This location is a block from one of the coolest independent strips of bars and restaurants the city, and 3 blocks from metro. If you’ve been to the Portland hotel shown above, it’s on a similar type of density and extremely successful.

  • Just another example of Gentilification….couldn’t resist wordplay on an overused term. Public housing – bad, Mixed income- good .

    • That’s because the data is in, and public housing brings both blight and crime, and mixed income or senior housing does not. Public housing is an absolute abject failure, and 100% affordable does not work. It effectively has a negative effect on communities.

  • I think Muriel Bowser and our ANC reps are totally out of touch with what Petworth residents need/want. The neighborhood is not clamoring for affordable housing. What we need are more restaurants and retail businesses. We also need or focus on crime. Before we turn this stunning building into an affordable housing project, why don’t we address crime in the area? Or work to recruit new businesses? Let’s build the tax base and look at options that help everyone. Call me crazy, but Park Place is still vacant. Why not focus on getting businesses to move in instead of more affordable housing?

    • Because providing affordable housing for our citizens is more important than yet another Starbucks?

      • Accountering

        No… Its not.

        See what I did there? Just because you say it’s so, does not make it. Everyone has their opinions here, and your’s certainly isn’t worth more than mine. This area has a ton of affordable housing already.

        • “Everyone has their opinions here, and your’s certainly isn’t worth more than mine.”

          Actually, you’re mistaken. What’s important to large percentage of the public whose needs aren’t met by the market are dramatically more relevant to public policy than some guy who wants a Starbucks (there’s one in the new Safeway anyway).

      • For a lot of area residents, it’s not.

      • Slick messaging, but no one mentioned a Starbucks. Talk to folks. How about places we can go eat as a family? Or a gym to promote health and fitness. Maybe a children’s store or other small businesses? Ideally this building should contribute to and benefit the community as a whole. Whatever it is… Affordable housing is not the answer.

        • saf

          This is directly across the street from the newly renovated Raymond Rec Center. There is a nice gym there. Also a decent fitness room and a lot of classes.

          • I do agree, but it is open odd hours and has limited equipment. It definitely provides a service to some residents, but it hardly a full service gym.

          • Not even close. There is a gym that 3-4 people can use simultaneously, that doesn’t open until 10am and closes at 8pm.

          • Yeah and the only way that will remain nice is without 100% low income public housing in the area.

      • you’re in the wrong decade.

    • Increasing the supply of affordable housing would probably be more helpful for people who desire to live in the neighborhood but presently don’t, than for people who already have a place in the neighborhood to live. Similarly with senior housing – probably more useful to seniors who want to live there but don’t than for those who already do. The residents of Petworth weren’t exactly clamoring for more market rate housing before yours got built and you moved in, either.

      • As a home owner, I m clamoring for more market rate housing. People that can’t afford to live in CH can live else where, that’s how a market works.

    • Public housing does nothing but INCREASE crime. It will be better off to destroy the building then turn it into public housing.

  • It’s worth noting that the (former) Robeson School next door is also in the mix. One potential bait-and-switch from the city will be 100% public housing in 1125, while auctioning the Robeson site to a private developer. This is not OK in my opinion either. I’d like to see it auctioned and executed by a private developer, with a certain percentage set-aside for senior housing. The site is fairly expansive and can actually allow for a fair amount of onsite parking, and even a small outdoor park area for residents, etc. A private developer could do some pretty amazing things with it.

    • Thanks for letting us know. I wouldn’t put it past the District and Bowser/Gray and the ANC reps to try to sneak it by the residents. We must all stay vigilant and be vocal.

  • FYI – in case you’re wondering what the title “DTM” means (as I was), it’s Distinguished Toastmaster.

  • In you guys opinion what salary range constitutes “moderate-income,” “affordable” or “work force” housing? Would you want a legal secretary, a mailman or a plumber living next to you? Or are you looking only for people who make over $100,000 a year? I guess I just don’t understand this seemingly absolute hatred for the working class D.C. resident. If the buiding was converted into mixed-income apartments with a mix of incomes from very low to very high would you have a problem with that? Isn’t that what a neighborhood is supposed to look like? People of all income levels and backgrounds. I don’t understand – some of you moved into neighborhoods that were working class and now you want all of the working class people out because they make you uncomfortable? You say that you fear crime but we don’t know what crimes you are commiting in your homes and offices.

    As far as I can tell developers have bought most of the old D.C. school buildings (including my old elementary school) and turns them all into high priced condos. Also, there have been thousands of new high end apartments and condos built in Columbia Heights and Petworth over the past 10 years. But it seems that whenever someone mentions moderate income, affordable or work-force income housing some people get rabid crazy and demand that the development be stopped. I’m really trying to understand what this hatred is about people who make less money than you. Don’t they deserve to live in N.W. just like you? Again, please define what low and moderate and work-force salaries and housing means to you.

    • Hatred? That’s a strong word and while people seem very opposed to this idea, I don’t think there is any hatred. It seems that most people just don’t view this as the solution and several have cited studies that show truly mixed income housing complexes are better not only for the neighborhood, but also the residents. Just look at Park Morton… Please don’t be trying to incite people by throwing around the word “hatred”. People are genuinely concerned about this and have a right to their opinion.

      • Is there legitimate misunderstanding of the distinction between subsidized housing vs. public housing? There are lots of apartment complexes in DC (albeit not in Columbia Heights or Petworth) in which nearly or actually 100% of units are subsidized and have income eligibility thresholds, yet are not public housing like the Park Morton, and do not have any more problems with drugs and crime than the market rate apartments in the same neighborhood. I had a 100% subsidized low-income apartment complex in my back yard for my first 9 years in DC, in Brightwood. It was full of good, friendly, hard-working people who just didn’t make enough money to be able to afford a market-rate apartment or afford to buy a house. If your position is that if you can’t afford Park Place then you’re not welcome in Petworth, just say that, but most subsidized affordable housing (at least in NW DC) is pretty decent and bears virtually no resemblance to the Park Morton.

        I’m honestly not clear on whether many people in this discussion are legitimately unaware of this distinction or whether they are willfully conflating the two for the purpose of making their position sound easier to support without any critical thinking. The Park Morton is a special place in all sorts of ways. Most subsidized low-income housing is absolutely nothing like the Park Morton.

        • My guess is that they are legitimately unaware of the all the housing options that you find in an urban area. Most of the people commenting on PoPville grew up in predominantly white, middle- to upper-middle class suburbs and learned from an early age that “public housing” means “ghetto projects.”
          It wasn’t until I moved to NYC that I learned that “public” housing takes lots of forms – subsidized co-ops with both minimum and maximum income requirements, entire city-owned developments composed of income-restricted rentals (aka your low income “ghetto”), public-private partnership mixed developments with set asides for low and middle-income residents (typically 80% market rate and 20% subsidized), and other forms. There are lots of white middle-class people with household income of $120K/year living in some form of “public” housing. The Old Jewish Home could be one of those types of developments.

          • Agree except that’s not what DC is proposing. Read the proposal. People aren’t misinformed, they don’t want it in their neighborhood. And DC hasn’t really shown itself to be a responsible steward of public/affordable housing.

    • Sure, there are a few of those on here, but most people only react negatively to 100% public housing (whatever that means exactly). I think that most people support mixed housing – things like Inclusionary Zoning, or set percentages at different income levels.
      I love living next to and with a diverse set of people. I don’t love living next to a project of segregated low-income folks because those buildings generally aren’t run well and attract crime. It really only takes a couple of bad apples in there to make it unpleasant for many.

    • Soulshadow –

      I think you are misinterpreting the spirit of the comments. I would be happy if more working class families moved into the neighborhood. That includes plumbers, teachers, nurses, ditch diggers, kite makers…. whatever. My problem is with the NON working class moving in. People who have no job, and no prospect of a job.

      The problem here is that although DCHA is calling this “workforce housing”, most of the residents will be very low income and unemployed. And, no. I don’t think that those folks “deserve” to live in the neighborhood, any more than I deserve a government subsidy to live in Georgetown or Chevy Chase.

      What would make more sense would be both a lower and upper bound on family income. For example, to qualify for these units you must be fully employed for at least two years, and have an annual household income of (say) $30K to $80K. And then throw in a healthy mix of market rate units. I would be fine with that plan.

      • Agreed…require employment. Make it mixed income. This isn’t workforce housing, it’s the projects, and the residents have every right to fight it.

  • I think the city should consider turning it into an affordable co-op, similar to Penn South development in the Chelsea neighborhood of NYC. “Workforce” housing is fine and dandy, but only when the occupants have some skin in the game. Turn these folks into homeowners – with both minimum income and maximum income requirements – and this place will be a value-add to the community.

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