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Highland Park Addition Built at Hiatt and Irving St, NW – La Casa Permanent Supportive Housing Coming Too

by Prince Of Petworth December 19, 2012 at 11:30 am 44 Comments

Hiatt and Irving St, NW 2012

Quite a transformation of the lot that once housed trailers:

Hiatt and Irving St, NW 2009

And here’s a rendering for La Casa’s replacement building which will go in front of the new building and a bit to the west on the lot above:

From Studio Twenty Seven Architecture:

Rather than function as a shelter, the “La Casa” project will provide permanent, supportive housing for forty men. Each living unit is designed as a single-person efficiency that will provide stability and predictability for the tenants as they immerse themselves in day to day living.

The building is seven floors above grade and includes a full basement. Total above grade floor area is 26,500 sf. In addition to the single efficiency units, the building will also provide a community room and exterior courtyard for the tenants. The project is slated to achieve LEED Gold certification.

  • What’s up with all the irregular windows in the rendering for the La Casa project?? Do not like.

  • So, Just Sayin’

    When is Georgetown going to start holding its fair share of shelters and public housing?

    This project is a very, very good thing for these men, and that means it’s a good thing for the community overall — but there’s too much of this kind of thing concentrated so tightly in CoHeights, especially when there are other neighborhoods that are effectively gated communities that aren’t doing their fair share to share space with these kinds of projects.

    • There is a lack of redevelopment on the scale of Highland Park going on in Georgetown – to say nothing of land/property values.
      Now if GSA allows the old Power Plant to be turned into condos (supposed to be about a dozen units) then perhaps one or two of them can be used for this purpose.

      FWIW – I live in GP just north, and there is a shelter there as well as two strip clubs. So I think we are doing our part.

      • I. Rex

        I love that 2 strip clubs are part of GP’s doing their fair share.

    • Anonymous

      Where is all the rest of the permanent supportive housing in Columbia Heights? This is a sincere question; I honestly don’t know, and I haven’t seen much evidence while walking around that supportive housing is proliferating or all that problematic in the neighborhood. (Not to say that there isn’t crime, litter, or other issues, I’m just not sure if it clearly connects to this.) I do agree in principle that more affluent communities like Georgetown should be doing their fair share. However, there could be a number of reasons that La Casa and the residents would prefer an area like Columbia Heights–better public transit, for example, easier access to additional services, and more of a community feel.

      • Anonymous

        Uhhhh… 14th and Colombia looks like the wire. Pretty sure those are projects. Same goes for most buildings between Colombia road and V street. Now, not saying that’s a good thing or a bad thing but I definitely think that Colombia Heights does have a high concentration of public housing.

        Other areas that I think have a high concentration of public housing or public housing-like facilities:

        Park View into very southern Petworth
        H street East of the starburst
        Barry Farms
        Minnesota Avenue station west to the river.

        In my opinion they do tend to agglomerate, and it would be better if we spread them out more.

        • Anonymous

          Tenley town and Friendship heights both have metro stops and only one, very small, Housing Authority site for seniors only. Before the Tenley library was rebuilt they were trying to make that mixed use site of affordable housing on top and library ground floor. The neighbors fought it for many reasons but a key one was bringing too many families to the area. And the school was too crowded. If you are organized you fight anything. I think supportive housing is the answer to homelessness. But like others, I agree that CH has an abundance of low income, supportive uses crammed into one small area. this does in fact lead to more crime and public space issues such as loitering, trash etc. Within 5 blocks, you have one of the highest concentrations of subsidized housing in the entire City. And it shows in the crime and appearance of the area. As for Petworth, the southern end, the only housing authority site in that area is Park Morton. Which is now only half occupied and slated to be completely demolsihed and rebuilt as a mixed income property, probably in another five years. Some tenants have been moved to the new “Avenue” building on GA avenue. I would say there is 1/5th as many low income units in Petworth as there are in CH.

        • Anon 1:31

          I was referring specifically to this type of permanent supportive housing, not public housing in general. (In my experience, PSH tends to draw an older, single-adult, formerly-homeless demographic that is different and more subdued than the teen/early 20s crowd that seems to be responsible for the majority of the street crime, at least from what I see on the MPD alerts.) But I see your point, and I do agree there are benefits to not over-concentrating low-income housing.

          I’m from Baltimore, so…I dunno about that “Wire” comparison, though… ;)

    • When they get a metro stop or more bus lines – that’s when.

    • Hey Just Sayin’
      I’m also guessing my neighbors in Georgetown/Burleith feel the same way about undergrads as you do about those that aren’t of means and live in “the wire.”
      Diversity, whether age, occupation, economic means, race, gender… – is what makes a city neighborhood.

      • dcd

        Are you seriously comparing living near a few group homes of Georgetown or GW students to livign near one of the largest concentrations of low income housing in the city? That’s ridiculous.

        • I prefer low income housing to endless frat parties and oceans of tourists. Count your blessings.

          • Anonymous

            Not to minimize more serious street crimes that happen around Columbia Heights, but I grew up in a neighborhood that was teeming with undergrad group houses. It was nuts, and still is (my mother still lives there). Hordes of students roaming the streets shouting/singing/shrieking in the middle of the night, fights, and all kinds of “creative” car vandalism (mirror-smashing, running up and over the line of parked cars on the street, you name it…including smearing vomit over the entire front windshield).

    • If you’re waiting for large-scale public housing along Connecticut and Wisconsin Avenues, you’ll be waiting a long time. That said, there are smaller charities that do outreach to the homeless such as Community Council for the Homeless at Friendship Place.

  • Anonymous

    Gtown or Wst of the park will NEVER house their fair share because all the housing advocates argue that its about acquiring cheap land to build on. Its also political. You think ward 3 would allow the housing authority to sell of Columbia Village and buy property on Wisconsin avenue? I think la casa is doing good work but yes, this will basically function as 24 hour homeless shelter. At least the guys won’t be kicked out every morning onto the street. Everytime I am in CH I am shocked by the loitering, trash, homelessness. its a shame that it was redeveloped with more though on the mix of uses.

    • Anonymous

      There’s a vast difference between a “24-hour homeless shelter” and permanent supportive housing. Indeed, part of what contributes to loitering is that at most traditional shelters, individuals have to be out of there from morning until night (and since many shelter stays are episodic by nature, individuals don’t stay connected to services that could help them get off the streets). And for everyone who is shocked, saddened, or otherwise concerned about seeing homeless people on the streets in Columbia Heights, this is precisely the type of project that’s designed to help alleviate that.

      • Anonymous

        Housing facilities like La Casa have strict rules and curfews, and at least in the case of La Casa, it’s a recovery program as well. Residents will get access to treatment and medication for mental health concerns. If people break the rules, they are out, and that includes using drugs or alcohol – people are not hanging out in the front waiting for lunch.

        I’ve volunteered at a program in a facility much like this, and it is tremendous program. I think other organizations provide much more basic services – handing out food – and get a lot more credit and recognition for that, although in reality handing out food does little to address the various issues that may or may not be at the root of the situation. And it’s those facilities that tend to draw homeless folks in more dire circumstances – possibly current drug users and/or people with untreated mental health issues.

        Big difference between a drop in shelter and a longer-term housing program, and programs like La Casa deserve a lot more credit than they get.

  • branddave

    What bazaar architecture. Why would they design a building to look like most of it’s windows are boarded up? For a shelter no less. So strange.

  • Anonymous

    Lets just hope it’s only 40 men. I bet they will at least double that. Here we go again with the loitering and cat calling on this block. It’s been nice since its been closed, really wish it would of stayed that way

  • thor

    Did Cobb create that building in his dream?

  • Jay

    I’m a bit unclear on the layout. La Casa will be in front of the apartment? So that the apartment windows that currently look out on Irving Street will instead face the back of this structure?

    • Prince Of Petworth

      It’s a bit easier to tell in person but I think it’ll be to the west so not really blocking the building.

    • otavio

      The windows of Highland Park Phase II that front Irving Street are actually hallway windows, not apartment windows. If you stand on Irving and look into the windows, you will clearly see hallways. Apartment windows will not be blocked by the new La Casa building as they are facing

  • Before Permanent Supportive Housing gets demonized in these posts, please take a look at what it is and understand that it is not a shelter. It is housing with supportive services that are intended to give people a home.

    People moving into these apartments are neighbors, not others, get to know them and you will learn that they are veterans, dentists, former teachers, fathers and mothers. Yes, they might be different from you based on socio-economics, or how they perceive the world, but by treating your neighbors as others, you become no better than the gated communities in Georgetown that you talk about.


    • It’s true. I’m pretty sure I read in The Atlantic recently that homlessness amongst dentists is reaching pandemic levels.

      • You are right there are not many homeless dentists, but what I was writing there was a real life example of someone who was housed in one of these buildings and life has changed dramatically mixed with others I have met in my work to paint the diverse picture of homelessness.

        To Anonymous responding to Anonymous’ comment on my post:

        This person did not contradict them self. Homelessness is not just street or shelter homeless, it is also not having a lease/home of your own. If the loss of a job causes you to lose the place where you live, even if you have a safety net like family to take you in, it is technically considered homeless – check out the HUD mandated Point In Time Count and learn about Doubled Up which seeks to measure this occurrence since the housing bubble burst.

        • Identified

          Well said Espi.

    • Anonymous

      Thank you for this thoughtful post. We often like to think we’re nothing like homeless people, and never could be. In theory, I’m probably a few paychecks away from being homeless, despite finshing college and graduate school and having worked my whole life. In reality, I’m fortunate that if I fell on hard times, my family would help me (by letting me stay with them, not by giving me money, of which they don’t have any extra), as I would if they were in trouble. But not everyone has that support system in their lives. Add in many of the other factors of street homelessness (like mental illness and addiction) and the need for supportive housing is even more crucial. True, I’m guessing that statistically there are not many dentists among the street homeless–but your point is well-taken that homeless people come from all different kinds of walks of life, including the military (especially the military, actually) and professional backgrounds.

      • Anonymous

        You just contradicted yourself. If your family would help you out, then in fact you are not just a few paychecks away from homelessness.

        • Anon 1:30

          OK, sorry that contradiction bothered you so much, but I don’t think it invalidates my overall point (and I think that of the above commenter) that we sometimes perceive the homeless as fundamentally different from the rest of us, when in fact we could be in their shoes but for a few small twists of fate or circumstance (or maybe a religious person would say “but for the grace of God). And actually, that’s why I specifically said that “in theory” (as in, based on straight finances) I could be a few paychecks away from homelessness but that in reality I am not because I could seek help from family (at least as long as I still have family). This is not to over-dramatize my situation or suggest that becoming street-homeless is something I actively fear; it’s not, but I think when some of us stop and consider how tenuous our financial situation really is, we have some empathy for those who lack support or fall-back options and do end up homeless.

    • Anonymous

      There are no gated communities in Georgetown.

  • derta

    Why do people complain whenever a building looks somewhat interesting in this city? It’s been disappointing to see all those bland tan brick buildings and sidewalks ruin that Irving block’s potential . They’ll be dated in a decade. So visually dispiriting to walk down. This proposed building with the different sized windows and interesting facade will be a welcome break from the monotony and block the ugly building behind it (there are no apartments facing the section that will be blocked by the homeless facility.

    • yeah and…

      By “this proposed building with the different sized windows and interesting facade” do you mean it looks like a prison? Because I’ve seen some very classy prisions… Over all I don’t necessarily agree with the monotonous brick apartment buildings that will be dated in a decade – but – at least they don’t look and feel standoffish.

      • derta

        Nope. I didn’t mean to say it looks like a prison. Quite the opposite, actually.

  • La Casa has been in Columbia Heights for years (long before any of the past decade’s rapid development). Development of the surrounding building had to incorporate the existing shelter. That’s good.

    • Identified

      Well said Bruno.

  • I would love to see Upper Causasia get this supportive housing. That’s all Columbia Heights needs is more subsidized housing. Why is it all concentrated here why not Van Ness or Cleveland Park. That’s all Colubmia Heights need is a newly developed Skid Row on Iriving. Thank God I’m a dude build like a brick house. Good luck ladies after the development stock up whistles and mace.

    • Anonymous

      Your a dude build like a brick house? This has officially been the funniest comment of 2012. I don’t think the Commodores had you in mind when laying that track down.

  • Supported housing like this is an essential service – plus, nothing can be so bad as the previous shelter. I lived behind it for 18 years. Once the men were turned out for the day, they spent the entire day – in the empty lot which is now Highland Park & Hiatt place.

    I rented out a basement apt. in my building, and got about $100 less a month than apts. in the front of the building because the men would constantly be urinating & defecating & masturbating in the window wells. So over the lifetime of that apt. the homeless shelter cost me about $18,000.00.

  • Anonymous

    This post was a big of a roller coaster.

    Initial thought: Yikes, that new building is an atrocious POS.

    Thought 2: Oh good, they’re putting another building in front of it to block it from the street.

    Thought 3: Oh crap, it’s “supportive housing.” Wish this was left as any empty lot.

  • CHLifer


  • rochelle wiley

    i would like know how do i fill out paper work to move in a unit . thank you for your help


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